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Note: The information provided on this page is ONLY intended for drivers facing a driver license suspension due to a DUI arrest. For information related to a DMV Hearing in connection with a medical, vision or skill related issue, Click here.

What is a DUI related Administrative Hearings?

If you are arrested for DUI you will be facing two separate legal proceedings: a criminal proceeding for DUI in a Note: The information provided on this page is ONLY intended for drivers facing a driver license suspension due to a medical, vision or skill related issue. For information related to a DMV Hearing in connection with a DUI arrest, click here.

What is a DMV Administrative Hearings?
Under certain circumstance the DMV may suspend or revoke a driver's driving privilege due to multiple reasons (mental and/or physical condition, lack of skills, lapse of consciousness or control, etc.).

However, before the DMV suspends or revokes a person’s driving privilege, the Laws of Procedural Due Process provide the affected driver an opportunity to present evidence to challenge (and hopefully to reverse) that action.  Even though when it is generally known that driving is a "privilege", the truth is that once such privilege has been obtained it can not be arbitrarily taken away since it is considered a "vested" right. At a practical level that means that once the decision to suspend or revoke your driver license has been made you have the right to request a DMV Administrative Hearing, which is your opportunity to present relevant evidence or testimony to contest the action. In other words, this is your chance to tell the DMV hearing officer exactly why you should be able to keep your driver license.

Timing is crucial since you must request an administrative hearing within 10 days of receiving personal service or 14 days from the date the notice is mailed. If you do not make a timely request, your right to a hearing will be forfeited

What is the purpose of the hearing?
The hearing is really an information gathering process (evidentiary hearing) through which hearing officer can make and informed and fair decision after reviewing and taking into consideration your “testimony” and all your supporting documentary evidence (for example the medicines you are taking, your doctor's opinion, your willingness to take lessons from a licensed driving instructor, etc.).

 What are your legal rights during a DMV administrative hearing?

​    You can be represented by an attorney, at your own expense.

    You can review DMV's evidence and cross-examine any witness offered by the department.

        Note: DMV's evidence is usually written documentation. You may request a copy of this documentation to review before your hearing. If you want to question the information contained in the evidence, you must subpoena, at your own expense, the person who prepared that document.   

    You can testify on your own behalf.

    You can present your own evidence and/or relevant witnesses on your behalf.

        Note: Any evidence you present must be relevant to your case (copies of medical evaluations, vision examinations, accident reports, photographs, or other documents that support your claim to keep your driver license). All evidence presented becomes part of the official record maintained by DMV and will not be returned

    You can appeal any adverse decision (You may appeal the decision through a departmental review or through Superior Court).

​What happens at the hearing?
Depending on its purpose an administrative hearing might have a slightly different "tone". For example a hearing due to your failure to pass a re-examination or due to certain medical conditions is more like a formal "interview" and is not supposed to be confrontational. Other administrative hearing are more like “mini-trials” in which evidence is introduced, objections and legal arguments are heard, witnesses may testify and experts may offer opinions. You can testify on your own behalf but I think it is needless to say that in order to prevail at such a hearing you will need to have a commanding knowledge of the California Vehicle Code, DMV policies, the Administrative Procedures Act, the California Evidence Code, and the California Code of Civil Procedures, areas of expertise that goes beyond the normal knowledge of an average driver. Fortunately you are permitted to be represented by your own attorney, which will greatly increase your chances of being successful.

A typical Driver Safety Administrative Hearings Process takes place before a DMV Driver Safety (DS) Officer. At the beginning of the hearing the hearing officer will turn on a recorder, test it, and then s/he will state her/his name, title, authority, date and location for the record. If you are being represented by an attorney the hearing officer will ask counsel to state the attorney’s name and law office address. Then you will be asked to state your full name, your address and your date of birth. Next, the hearing officer will summarize the purpose of the hearing and state onto the record each document that the DMV has obtained to justify its intent to suspend or revoke your driver license.

These may include some of the following documents:

    Driver Record Printout.

    Driver Medical Evaluation(s) and Report of Vision Examination forms.

    A Request for Reexamination by DMV from a law enforcement agency.

    A Traffic Collision Report from law enforcement agency.

    A report from a doctor, hospital, family member or a neighbor.

    Any other documents that the Department has pertaining to your case, such as written or drive test results.

The DMV’s documents will be identified as “Department’s 1,” “Department’s 2,” etc. All documents submitted by you (or your attorney) will be identified similarly as “Respondent’s 1,” “Respondent’s 2,” etc.

At a certain point the officer will swear you in. Simply raise your right hand, and after being questioned by the officer, just say: “Yes, I do.”

Note: If I am representing you, I will have already stated (on correspondence) our request for reinstatement, a drive test, a special instructional permit for lessons under the supervision of a licensed driving instructor, etc.

Then the officer will usually ask you (or your attorney) a series of questions related to the issue at hand (your medical condition, any use of prescribed medications, your vision, any prior failed road tests, etc.).

Often, the officer will also ask questions related to the use of alcohol and illegal drugs. These questions are part of a routine process so don't take them personally or feel offended. Simply focus on your goal of getting your license back by honestly answering each question directly, but briefly.

Tell the truth. Think before you answer but don't wait too long, as that looks like you are making up an answer. Volunteer nothing, if the answer calls for a "yes" or "no", just answer with yes or no and stop. Use words (no nods or shaking of the head). Don't interrupt the questioner. If you don't know an answer, just say so. If you can't remember an answer, just say so. If you don't understand a question, just say so and ask the officer to rephrase. Whatever you do, please do not get frustrated or angry.

A written test may be given before, during or after a hearing or interview.

At the end of the hearing the DMV hearing officer will analyze and weigh the facts of your case and either ask for new documentation from your doctor, or  in most cases make a decision regarding your driving privilege by either:

    End or dismiss the action (meaning you will be able to continue driving).

    Restrict your driver license or place you on probation so you can continue driving, but on a limited basis, such as "no night time driving"

    Uphold the original decision to suspend or revoke your driving privilege

​That decision may be taken at the conclusion of the hearing by orally stating it on the record; or may be informed by mail (the office will simply say that s/he will take this matter under further analysis and that you will be informed by mail—usually within 30 days from the hearing.

Why should you hire me?
See, this is a specific area of law that is not taught in law school and cannot be mastered by taking classes on the Internet either. It requires not only a knowledge of the substantive laws and policies but also a comprehensive understanding on how the DMV operates, something that I really know very well because I have been dealing with the DMV for the last 26 years, as licensed driving instructor, driving school operator and driving school owner. As a matter of fact, before becoming a licensed attorney I worked as a DMV licensed driving instructor and I was the owner/operator of one of the most successful driving schools of San Diego metropolitan area.

​If there is something that I know how to do it is how to deal with the DMV at a variety of levels.

​I have a passion of helping others. That is what I have been doing since 1993 when I got my first driving instructor license. As an attorney-at-law I can help you to improve your chances of being successful on your next DMV administrative hearing. I can do that by working on your case at different stages:

    Prior to the hearing, by working with your doctor and coordinating with a driving schools in order to create a compelling presentation for the hearing.
    At the hearing, by personally taking you to the DMV’s Driver Safety Office, which will give us the opportunity to clarify any last minute questions.
    After the hearing, by coordinating with the DMV, your doctor and the driving school accordingly with the decision taken by the hearing officer.

What are my fees?
I charge a flat fee. A “true retainer” of $2,000 fee for cases in the San Diego metropolitan area (note: “true” retainer is a sum of money paid by a client to secure an attorney’s availability over a specified period of time). The contract agreement covers three matters: (1) Getting you ready for the hearing; (2) Attending with you the in-person DMV Driver Safety Office appointment (if that is, in fact, required to move your case forward); and (3) Any and all “follow up” work after the hearing short of any additional “in-person” appointment at the DMV.