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What is “Zero-Tolerance” at the DMV?
Most California drivers are not aware that within the walls of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) there is an enforcement branch known as the Division of Driver Safety. The Division of Driver Safety has the power to review the driving record and actions of all California drivers to ensure they are operating motor vehicles safely and that they are obeying all provisions of the California Vehicle Code (CVC).
The Division of Driver Safety operates out of large regional offices that are scattered throughout the State of California. Known as the Driver Safety Office, these locations are staffed by support personnel and the “all powerful” DMV Hearing Officers. Within the world of the DMV, the DMV Hearing Officer enjoys the same power as a Superior Court Judge. Hearing Officers make decisions on a daily basis to suspend or revoke the driving privilege of accused drivers. Left to their own devices, the California DMV would take many more people off the road than they already do.
Written within the pages of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) are two sections that mandate “Zero-Tolerance” for the use of alcohol when driving a motor vehicle. Essentially this means that in these two categories of drivers, the DMV will not tolerate any use of alcohol when driving…….period!
Zero Tolerance while on DUI Probation:
Any driver in the State of California, who is convicted of either misdemeanor or felony DUI, will be placed on a term of probation by the court. Depending upon various factors in a person’s case, the term of probation can be for a period of 1, 3, or 5 years. When a driver is convicted of DUI and is placed on probation, the court conviction and the term of probation are electronically reported to the DMV.
One of the “conditions” imposed upon a driver while on DUI probation is that they must not drive a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood. If a driver is found to be on DUI probation and is discovered to have driven with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01% or greater, they have violated the terms of their probation and are subject to penalties both in court and at the DMV.
California Vehicle Code section 23154 (a) provides……
It is unlawful for a person who is on probation for a violation of section 23152 or 23153 to operate a motor vehicle any time with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test.
Also, if a person who is on DUI probation refuses to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test at the request of a peace officer, they likewise have violated their DUI probation.
Zero Tolerance for Under Age Driver:
The next category of “Zero Tolerance” aggressively enforced by the DMV is in cases involving drivers who are under the age of 21 and drives a motor vehicle with any alcohol in their blood. Prior to the age of 21, California drivers are granted “provisional” driver licenses that are subject to more stringent regulation. One of the standards imposed on young drivers is the “Zero-Tolerance” standard for alcohol when operating a motor vehicle.
California Vehicle Code section 23136 (a) provides……
Notwithstanding sections 23152 and 23153, it is unlawful for person under the age of 21 years who has a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test, to drive a motor vehicle…
Also, it is a violation of the law for person who is under the age of 21 to refuse to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test at the request of a peace officer.
Any time the DMV suspects that a driver who is subject to one of the “zero-tolerance” categories in the vehicle code has violated that standard, the DMV will move quite efficiently to completely suspend or revoke that person’s driver license for an extended period of time.
The only way to avoid the complete suspension or revocation of one’s driver license in this case is to schedule, conduct, and win a “Zero-Tolerance” hearing at the DMV. The process of the Zero Tolerance hearing is identical to the process encountered in an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing following an arrest for DUI.
The rules of evidence are the same and the process is the same as the APS hearing. The only real difference is that the DMV must simply prove a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01% or greater as opposed to the 0.08% or greater standard at most APS hearings.
Can I Win a “Zero-Tolerance” Hearing at the DMV?
Emphatically, yes…….. You can win a zero tolerance hearing before the California DMV, but they are one of the most difficult cases to overcome.
Similar to an APS hearing following a DUI, the DMV still must prove:
- That the law enforcement officer had reasonable cause to come into contact with the driver.
- That the law enforcement officer had reasonable cause to lawfully detain the driver.
- The driver was operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01% or greater.
We understand that these seem like terribly low standards of proof, and to be candid, they are. However, in many cases, a thorough investigation, complete preparation, and a professional presentation at a zero-tolerance hearing can overcome the intended suspension. Also, you have absolutely nothing to lose by being aggressive in your defense. If you conduct a zero-tolerance hearing and lose, the DMV cannot punish you more severely. On the other hand, if you conduct a zero-tolerance hearing and win, the DMV reinstates your driving privilege in full.
Why would anyone allow the DMV to steal their driver license without a fight?
Call CDA now……….We are ready to begin working for you.
Because the standards of proof at a “zero-tolerance” hearing are so low, the average California driver stands very little chance of prevailing at such a hearing on their own. The only viable chance of winning a “zero-tolerance” hearing is by selecting a DMV Defense team who understands the process as well as the DMV does.
When you walk into a “zero-tolerance” hearing at the DMV, the hearing officer is in complete control. He or she holds all the cards and will not lift one finger to assist you in defending yourself. When a hearing officer sees a driver walk into one of these hearings without representation, they smirk and assume the hearing is over before it has begun.
You’d be amazed at the change of attitude when the DMV realizes that an accused driver is represented by someone with long lines of experience and a deep understand of DMV process. When the DMV hearing officer sees you walk in the door with your representative from California Drivers Advocates, they know they are in for a fight. They know they have to bring their “A” game. Call CDA today. We are ready to put you back on the road.