Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to defend a client whose driver license was being suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles following an arrest for DUI in which he allegedly was driving with an Blood/Alcohol Level that exceeded the legal limit.
One evening in April 2017, our Client was driving in Riverside County when he was stopped by a California Highway Patrol Officer who alleged he witnessed our Client driving erratically. The Officer claimed that our Client repeatedly swerved onto the shoulder of the freeway and then drove through a gore point at an off ramp. After being stopped by the officer, our Client admitted consuming alcohol prior to driving and was ordered out of his vehicle to participate in a DUI investigation. The Officer’s report would later allege that our Client’s eyes were bloodshot and watery, that his speech was slurred and that he was unsteady on his feet. The Officer administered a series of Field Sobriety Tests that he felt our Client performed poorly. Our Client was subsequently arrested for suspicion of DUI and was transported to the Riverside County Jail where he submitted to a chemical blood test that estimated his alcohol level at .22%.
When he was released, our Client’s driver license was confiscated and he was issued an “Order of Suspension” advising him that the DMV was initiating the process to suspend or revoke his license. The order further told him that to defend himself; he was required to contact the Department within ten days to schedule a hearing.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV has no discretion in matters of this nature. If a driver is found to have been driving a motor vehicle with a Blood/Alcohol Concentration of .08% or greater, the Department must move to suspend or revoke that person’s privilege to drive.
To take a Suspension or Revocation action in a DUI case, the DMV must establish the following issues:
- Did the Peace Officer have a lawful reason to come into contact with the driver and upon doing so, have reasonable cause to believe that he had been driving in violation of the Vehicle Code?
- Was the driver lawfully arrested?
- Was the driver operating a motor vehicle with a blood/alcohol concentration of .08% or greater, by weight of alcohol.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his Administrative Per Se hearing with the San Bernardino Driver Safety Office. When our request was granted, we also asked that the Department place a “Stay” on the suspension. This means the DMV stops the suspension until the outcome of his hearing. This can be critically important for a driver as a case of this nature could take months to resolve.
Once the hearing was scheduled and a Stay was granted, our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine his complete medical history, driving history, criminal history and the events leading to his arrest.
Once we received the police reports from the DMV (referred to as Discovery), we conducted a critical review of that material. Based upon that review, we issued a series of Subpoenas which directed the Police Agency to release certain items of evidence that we considered important. In this particular case, the issuance of these subpoenas was pivotal and turned the case upside down.
One of the most important factors in any DUI hearing is whether or not the Peace Officer had a lawful reason to stop or detain the accused in the first place. In our case, the arresting CHP Officer documented a series of driving events that he determined was consistent with impaired driving. The Officer’s report indicated that the events were captured on dash-cam video.
The DMV Experts at CDA learned years ago that the proper defense of a Client often requires us to search for evidence that the police would prefer we didn’t have. In this case, we issued a subpoena for the production of the Dash Cam video. When we reviewed the video, it was abundantly clear the CHP officer had embellished his report as none of the reported driving events was present.
As required by the Government Code, we filed a “Notice of Affirmative Evidence” with the DMV hearing officer ten days before the hearing. At the hearing, our evidence, including the video recording was accepted by the hearing officer without objection. We carefully cross-examined the CHP officer to nail down his testimony. We got the officer to commit to specific locations where the alleged driving violations occurred. When we pointed out the inconsistencies in the police report and the officer’s testimony, versus was evident in the video, the hearing officer found the CHP Officer was not credible and issued an Order of Set Aside on the spot.
Call CDA Today. Let us put you back on the road.
The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates include former police officers, DMV Hearing Officers, Investigators and Scientists. Our training, our experience and our reputation provide any driver the best opportunity to win their Administrative Hearing.
If your driver license is being suspended or revoked for a DUI arrest, don’t despair; these cases can be won. Don’t let anyone convince you that you are in a hopeless situation.