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Beat Your DMV Hearing (2024): Get Prepared Now!

To prepare for a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) hearing, you should take a number of steps including understanding the reason for the hearing, gathering evidence, reviewing the law, preparing your testimony, and considering whether or not to hire legal representation.
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What is a DMV Hearing?

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, when DMV takes action against your driver’s license (DL), you may have the right to request an administrative hearing [1].

These administrative hearings, which are distinct from criminal court proceedings, differ in two key aspects:

  • They are presided over by a Driver Safety (DS) Hearing Officer rather than a judge.
  • The standards for admitting and considering evidence are less stringent compared to those in a criminal court.

A hearing is your opportunity to receive a fair and impartial review of the action being taken should you wish to contest it. Hearings must be requested within 10 days of receiving notice or 14 days from the date of the notice, if the notice was mailed. Failure to make a request within this window will result in a forfeiture of your hearing rights – Agency stated.

Standard of Proof for a DMV Hearing

According to DUI Centra, during a DMV administrative hearing, the hearing officer must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that your driver’s license should be suspended or revoked [2].

In cases involving driving under the influence (DUI), the officer must prove that you were operating a motor vehicle:

The evidence presented against you must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that you were driving under the influence or with a BAC above the legal limit. This means it was more likely than not that you were intoxicated or impaired when a police officer arrested you for DUI. “Preponderance” generally means there is more than a 50% chance that the allegations are true.

A preponderance of the evidence standard is used in civil trials. If your DUI charges proceed to criminal court, the burden of proof changes to “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The burden of proving the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt is higher than by a preponderance of the evidence. A prosecutor in a DUI case must prove to a jury or the judge that the only reasonable explanation for the evidence presented in court is that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

How to Win a DMV DUI Hearing

Winning a DMV DUI hearing can be achieved through various legal strategies. These include demonstrating that police lacked probable cause to stop the motorist for a DUI and/or that police failed to follow proper procedures in obtaining the blood or breath test.

Another strategy is to show that the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under 0.08%, that they were not actually “driving” the vehicle, or that they did not refuse to submit to a breath or blood test.

What are My Odds of Winning a DMV Hearing?

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, the outcome of your DMV hearing hinges on the specifics of your case. A strong police case for drunk driving lowers the odds of winning at the DMV hearing, but if there are errors in the arrest, your chances increase. Consulting with a DUI or criminal defense lawyer can improve your odds.

Factors affecting your chances include whether the police had probable cause for the stop, the clarity of their instructions, breath test results, whether the consequences of refusing a test were explained, and if you refused a test.

The odds of winning the hearing are not zero. You should strongly consider invoking your right to have the administrative hearing. Doing so can challenge what would otherwise be an automatic driver’s license suspension.

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If you or a loved one was involved with these matters, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case evaluation. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.

References:

1. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-education-and-safety/educational-materials/fast-facts/driver-safety-administrative-hearings-process-ffdl-26/
2. https://www.duicentral.com/blog/2022/april/what-is-the-burden-of-proof-at-a-dmv-hearing-/

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