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What is a Driving Record at an APS Hearing?
Whenever a driver in California has been arrested for driving with a Blood/Alcohol Concentration that is at or above the legal limit, the California Administrative Per Se Law (APS) kicks in and the accused driver is in jeopardy of losing their privilege to drive in the State of California.
The only opportunity an accused driver has to reverse the suspension of their driving privilege is by scheduling, conducting and winning an Administrative Per Se Hearing before the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Known as an APS Hearing, these administrative proceedings are complete evidentiary hearings where evidence is introduced, witnesses testify, legal arguments ensue and experts render opinions. This process is very similar to a “mini-trial.”
When introducing its case against the driver, the DMV will present several documents to establish a valid reason for suspending that person’s driving privilege. One of the most common documents presented is the driver’s Official Driving Record.
The official driving record is a computer generated document that reflects the driver’s driving history within the State of California. This document contains information that is vital to the DMV proving it has jurisdiction over the case.
How Does the DMV Use a Driving Record at an APS Hearing?
In the presentation of its case, the DMV is permitted to present whatever documentary evidence, witness testimony or scientific evidence that is relevant to the matter. Numerous legal codes and sections control what evidence is permitted into an APS hearing and the standards for moving those items into evidence.
As stated in other chapters here, the DMV will primarily build its case by introducing the arresting officer’s sworn report, known as a DS-367. If this document is properly prepared and executed, the information contained within the report is presumed trustworthy and the arresting officer need not testify.
To help establish the DMV’s jurisdiction over the accused driver, the DMV will use that person’s driving record as “an official record of the department” to establish that the accused person holds a driver license and that an arrest occurred. If the accused driver holds a California driver license, the driving record will reflect the entire driving history of the accused person, the type of arrest that occurred and the jurisdiction the DMV has to enforce a license suspension.
If the accused driver is from another state, the California driving record is likely to be quite sparse. Because the “out of state” driver will not have a California driver license number, the DMV will assigned an “index number” to the accused driver. Also known as a “X” number, this driving record usually presents minimal information, including the date and location of the DUI arrest. Most often, the index file does not include information from the person’s home state driving history.
The driving record is a potentially damaging piece of evidence at an APS hearing because it can establish prior convictions for DUI or prior administrative suspensions. It can also reflect a person’s driving history which can influence the hearing officer’s overall impression of the driver’s ability to safely drive. Also, “out of state” prior convictions may not necessarily meet the requirements for “prior convictions” as identified under California Law and could allow the DMV to charge the priors that have no basis for being added to the case. Your DMV Defense Expert should work diligently to prevent the introduction of the driving record into evidence or to limit the information that can be taken from it.
How Do We Fight the Driving Record at an APS Hearing?
As mentioned above, a Driving Record can be a very damaging piece of evidence at your APS Hearing, especially if it contains inaccurate or erroneous information. Your DMV Defense Expert must have the training and experience necessary to carefully scrutinize the accuracy of the driving record and to identify those instances when the Driving Record can be rejected as evidence. This is difficult because the Driving Record is considered an “Official Record” of the DMV and thus it falls within the “Official Records” exception to the Evidence Code.
Because the Driving Record is an unsworn document, they are considered hearsay and cannot be moved into evidence unless they can be deemed trustworthy. This is where your DMV Defense Expert’s training and experience will make the difference.
The DMV hearing officer will automatically presume the accuracy of each of their documents, especially the Driving Record as it is generated by their own computer. Hearing Officers are shocked when presented with concrete proof that the driving record is inaccurate, erroneous or untrustworthy. It’s amazing to watch a hearing officer’s reaction when they realize their precious evidence is going away.
Call Us Today. We Will Fight to Keep the Driving Record out of Your APS Hearing.
The rules of Procedural Due Process require that an accused driver have the opportunity to fight to attack the DMV’s case and to reverse the suspension of their driver license… That is where we come in. The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates (CDA) have been fighting and winning APS Hearings for years.
Preventing the DMV from moving documentary exhibits into evidence takes more than knowledge. Knowing that an item of evidence is not admissible is not the same as proving it is not admissible. Experience often rules the day and the DMV Defense Experts from CDA have been fighting to keep the DMV from suspending driver licenses for years.Call us today. We’re ready to go to work for you.