Fisher Law Office

DUI: Balancing the DMV and Criminal Court

When a driver is charged with a DUI in California, they quickly realize that they must contend with two different governmental entities.  The criminal court will seek to impose jail time, fines, DUI program, and probation while the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will seek to suspend the driver's license as well as requiring that the driver complete a DUI program.  What's more, in order for the driver to maintain his/her full driving privilege, he/she must succeed both at the DMV and the criminal court. 

When someone is arrested for a DUI in California, the arresting officer will typically take their actual, physical license away from them and give them a pink sheet.  That pink sheet is a temporary license.  The fine print on the temporary license explains (albeit very cryptically) that the driver will be allowed to drive for 30 days from the date of arrest/citation, but that, on the 31st day, the driver's license will be suspended.  However, if the driver contacts the DMV within 10 days of the date of arrest/citation and requests a hearing, the driver will be given an additional temporary license and the driver will be allowed to drive indefinitely, pending the outcome of the DMV hearing.

At the DMV hearing, the driver (hopefully, with the assistance of his/her attorney) will challenge the DUI allegations.  The hearing officer (a DMV employee) acts as the judge and prosecutor.  The DMV hearing officer's job is both to prove that the driver committed a DUI and to determine whether the driver actually committed a DUI.  As you can see, this is hardly a fair process.  This makes it all the more important that the driver retains a skilled attorney knowledgeable in DUI law.

If the driver prevails at the DMV hearing, he/she is only halfway to maintaining his/her driver's license.  The driver must also beat the DUI allegations in the criminal court in order to avoid a driver's license suspension.  In other words, a driver may "win" the DMV hearing, but, if he/she is convicted of a DUI in the criminal court, the DMV will receive notice of the conviction and promptly suspend the driver's license.  Conversely, a driver could beat the DUI in the criminal court, but lose the DMV hearing.  The DMV would then suspend the driver's license solely on that basis.

It is easy to see why it is critical to retain an attorney who is very familiar with this juggling routine.  The rules are very technical and require knowledgeable legal representation.  If you or someone you care about has been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications, please contact Fisher and Fisher for aggressive, knowledgeable representation.

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San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-4028

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DUI: Balancing the DMV and Criminal Court | Fisher Law Office