Guest Blog: DMV APS (Administrative Per Se) Hearings
By Joshua Kaizuka, Sacramento DUI Defense Attorney
California DUI arrests are a confusing time for many drivers. Most are shocked to learn that police can immediately take your license before you even see a judge. This is because California has two separate methods to penalize DUI offenses – the courts AND the DMV.
APS suspensions are part of the DMV hearing process and are treated differently than your actual criminal case. In order to protect your driving privileges, it’s important to understand how this process works.
One of the most critical points is that you must request the hearing within 10 days of your arrest. Failing to request an APS hearing means your license will likely be suspended automatically from four months to several years depending on the number of prior DUI related suspensions are on a driver’s record.
At the time of the hearing, the hearing officer will determine three things:
- was the licensee driving?
- if the licensee was driving, was the blood alcohol level .08 or higher?
- if the first two things are true, was the arrest lawful?
The DMV hearing officer will then decide whether to re-impose or lift the suspension. Although winning your APS hearing protects your license at the administrative level, your driving privileges may still be revoked as a result of a DUI conviction in the criminal case.
Your best bet is to work with a competent DUI attorney to help fight your suspension and build a strong defense for your DUI case.
Why Schedule a Hearing?
Requesting a hearing can strengthen your case in a number of ways. Especially when you enlist the help of an experienced DUI law firm.
- You get to keep your driving privileges – at least until the DMV hearing officer renders his or her decision.
- Your attorney can subpoena patrol car video to possibly refute the lawfulness of arrest.
- Maintenance and calibration records for DUI testing devices can be obtained. If errors are found, experts may be retained to determine if the blood alcohol level was less than .08 at the time of driving or if the result are even valid due to problems with the device.
- Blood evidence can be retested for scientific accuracy.
- The arresting officers can be subpoenaed and questioned at your hearing.
Having an experienced attorney set your DMV APS hearing serves to ensure the best possible outcome in your case. In many instances, an experienced DUI attorney has dealt with the numerous DMV hearing officers, knows which ones to watch out for, can appear on your behalf freeing you from the time and frustration of having to do try and figure it all out yourself, if you even can!
The biggest benefit of requesting a hearing is in allowing your attorney more time to build your case (whether it ever goes to court or not). Collecting and verifying evidence can be a lengthy process, especially when it comes to DUI allegations.
The faster your attorney can get to work the better your chances of avoiding a conviction in the criminal case or at least reducing your sentence.
Waiving Your Rights or Failing to Appear
Although a DMV hearing is not mandatory, it’s usually in your best interest to ask for one. Waiving your rights – or failing to appear – simply means the APS suspension will occur regardless of whether there is a defense or not. And you may not like the results.
First-time offenders usually face a minimum 4-month driving suspension. While 2nd and 3rd offenses can easily lead to one or two-year suspensions respectively. Of course a conviction in criminal court can lead to longer suspensions.
Winning Your Hearing
A successful DMV APS hearing can be a big boost to your DUI criminal case. Not only are you allowed to keep your driver’s license in the interim, but new options may open up for your defense in the criminal case.
Usually, prosecutors are more willing to offer plea bargain deals during the DUI negotiation phase of your case. In fact, if during the course of APS hearing holes in the government’s case can be shown, the prosecutor may choose to dismiss your DUI case altogether or greatly mitigate the situation.
Keep in mind that the DMV and DUI court processes are completely separate from one another. So winning (or losing) one does not necessarily guarantee the same result for the other. Getting a reduced charge like a wet reckless or even a dismissal will not get your license back if you lost the DMV APS hearing. DMV does what it wants to do when it comes to license suspensions and doesn’t care what a judge says unless you can get an acquittal of the DUI charges in court.
Choosing a DMV APS Hearing Attorney
When you make an important decision or purchase, you do research. Don’t rush into hiring a lawyer. Watch out for mailers. The best thing to do is to do some research yourself. You can get basic information on-line about attorneys who deal with DUI cases. The attorney should have more than a few years of experience, have training specific to DUIs, have actually conducted contested hearings, DMV hearings, and jury trials. Put together a list of three or more, call them, see if you actually get through to the lawyer, go meet face to face with attorneys from your list, then make a decision based on whom you feel most comfortable with and who will work to obtain the best possible result in your case.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, please contact Breathe Easy Insurance Solutions for SR22 Insurance. We will file it electronically with the DMV for you, and can answer any questions you may have about SR22 insurance. Call us at 866.822.7755 today!