The DMV is responsible for the administration of your driver’s licenses and your privilege to drive. Once charged with a DUI, the DMV initiates a process to suspend your license. If you do nothing, your license will be suspended automatically in the vast majority of all cases. So it's important for you or your attorney to act quickly and contact the DMV to apply for a hearing and contest the suspension.
While each state’s DMV administrative process is different, they all have an administrative hearing that you must request where you will be heard on why you should retain your driving privileges. Sometimes these hearings can be weeks if not months away from the day you were arrested. Consequently, you get to keep your license and right to drive in the meantime.
The most immediate challenge for anyone charged with a DUI is that the time period available to you to file for a DMV administrative hearing is usually quite soon after the time you were charged. For example, in California you have ten days from the date of the arrest. So it is critical that you or your attorney call the DMV as soon as possible. Your DUI lawyer will know the DMV rules in your state, help you with the request and prepare you for the DMV hearing.
DMV administrative hearing
Lets be clear, the DMV hearing does not determine if you are innocent or guilty of the DUI. It is focused only on your driving privilege. The following is usually considered:
- -did you take a chemical blood or breath test or refuse
- -did the arresting officer have reasonable cause to believe you were operating the vehicle while intoxicated
- -was it a lawful arrest
- -were you driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more
If your license and driving privilege is suspended it is possible that even if you are acquitted of the DUI criminal charges or receive a reduction in the charges (e.g. to reckless driving) or the decision is made not to pursue the charges, this does not automatically reinstate your driving privileges. So again it is imperative that you request the DMV hearing and be thoroughly prepared for the hearing; your ability to drive depends on it.