Case History: California Drivers Advocates was hired to assist a client whose driver license was in jeopardy of being suspended following a DUI arrest in the City of Jurupa Valley. Our 47 year old Client’s case was further complicated by the fact that as the holder of a Commercial Class “A” driver license, so the DMV was seeking to disqualify him from driving commercial vehicles for one year.
During the early morning hours of a Saturday in March 2016, the Riverside Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to the scene of a roll-over traffic accident in the area of Jurupa Valley. The responding Sheriff’s Sergeant found our client standing near a badly damaged car and he admitted driving the car. He performed poorly on Field Sobriety tests and a blood test would later reveal a blood/alcohol concentration of .16%; which is twice the legal limit.
The Sheriff’s Sergeant arrested our client and transported him to an area hospital for his chosen blood test. While at the hospital, it was discovered he had been badly injured and had an open and bleeding wound on his arm.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Under the “Official Duty Presumption,” the DMV Hearing Officer presumed the responding Sheriff’s Sergeant had a lawful reason to detain our client. Normally an arrest for DUI requires that the arresting officer witness the driving event, but a particular section of the Vehicle Code allows a presumption of driving when there is a traffic accident.
Because the DMV was permitted to presume driving and because the chemical blood test revealed a blood/alcohol concentration above a .08%, the DMV was eager to suspend our client’s license and to disqualify him as a commercial driver. Essentially our client was “guilty” until proven innocent.
Our Defense: At our DMV hearing, there were three primary questions to be addressed:
- Was it lawful for the Sergeant to contact our client and upon doing so to presume he had been driving in violation of the Vehicle Code?
- Was it lawful for the officer to arrest our client?
- Was our client’s blood/alcohol concentration a .08% or greater when he drove?
Although the DMV is permitted to presume driving and, in this case our client admitted driving, the department must still establish a time of driving. In our case, the police reports did not indicate a time of driving. When we cross-examined the Sheriff’s Sergeant he admitted that he had failed to ask the time of driving. Furthermore, the Sergeant admitted the accident had occurred in a desolate area that could have gone undiscovered for quite a long period of time. The Sheriff’s Sergeant had no idea who had called to originally report the accident or if that caller had actually witnessed the collision. The Sergeant quite honestly testified he had no way of knowing when the accident occurred.
The DMV is also permitted to presume the accuracy of any chemical blood or breath test, if it is taken from the driver within three hours of the termination of driving. In our case, because the time of driving was not known, it could not be established that the chemical blood test had been seized within 3 hours of the termination of driving. Based on this, the DMV could not presume its accuracy, no matter how high the results.
Outcome: This case was very detailed and took a great deal of effort to resolve. We issued a number of subpoenas for additional evidence and were prepared to cross-examine a highly experienced Sheriff’s Sergeant. It took nearly six months and two hearing appearances to resolve, but we were able to prevail.
At the conclusion of the APS Hearing, the hearing officer took the matter under submission. Three weeks later, we received official notice that the hearing officer had “Set Aside” the suspension and our client’s driving privilege was fully reinstated. Our client suffered no APS suspension and no disqualification as a commercial driver. He was not required to attend a DUI school, and was not required to purchase an SR-22 Form. This was similar to being found “Not Guilty” by a jury.
As a result of our effort, our client remains employed and is able to provide for his family. He has learned a valuable lesson and is committed to safe and sober driving.
Call CDA Today. Let Us Go to Work on Your Case. The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates have been fighting and winning DMV Administrative Per Se hearings for years. We excel at every type of administrative hearing handled by the DMV and have a history of winning. Call us and let us get you back on the road.