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Any time you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Orange County, two separate proceedings will be generated as a result: a criminal court case and a DUI hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), formally known as a “Driver Safety Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearing,” which determines what will happen with your driver’s license. While the criminal court proceedings will determine what criminal penalties you may face if you are convicted of the DUI charges, the DMV DUI hearing will determine whether your driving privileges are suspended as a result of the DUI arrest. For more information about DMV DUI hearings in Orange County and how to protect yourself against a driver’s license suspension, contact our knowledgeable DUI defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today.

Affordable Orange County DUI Defense Attorney

For many first-time Orange County drunk driving offenders, losing their driving privileges is the most burdensome of the penalties they will face as a result of their DUI. Depending on the circumstances of your case, misdemeanor first DUI charges in Orange County may result in a six-month suspension of your driver’s license by the criminal court, and the DMV may impose its own four-month administrative license suspension as well. If you lose your driving privileges in Orange County and you are no longer able to drive to work or to school, you could lose your job or fail out of school, and your car insurance and registration could also be affected, among other adverse consequences. Furthermore, if you are caught driving with a suspended license, you could be arrested and face additional legal consequences. Any time you are facing DUI charges in Orange County, it is a good idea to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney to represent you in both your criminal case and your DMV hearing.

DMV Hearing and Criminal Court

Under Orange County law, a DUI is a criminal offense, not just a traffic violation, and if you are arrested for DUI in Orange County, you could face criminal penalties under California Vehicle Code § 23152 (a) VC, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or Vehicle Code § 23152 (b) VC, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Compared to a DUI criminal trial, during which a jury examines the evidence presented by the prosecutor and the defense to determine whether the defendant committed the DUI crime, a DMV hearing is an administrative procedure that only deals with your driving privileges, separate from any criminal charges you may face as a result of your drunk driving offense. The hearing is held at a DMV office, not a courthouse, and the sole purpose of the hearing is to determine whether your driver’s license will be suspended as a result of your DUI arrest.

Common Orange County DMV Hearing Questions

How do I Schedule a DMV Hearing?

Immediately after being arrested for drunk driving in Orange County, your driver’s license will be confiscated by the arresting officer and you will be issued a “Notice of Suspension,” which acts as a temporary license for 30 days. This temporary permit also gives you notice that you are entitled to a DMV DUI hearing to put a temporary hold on the suspension of your driver’s license, but only if you request the hearing within 10 days of your DUI arrest. If you fail to request a DMV DUI hearing during the allotted 10 days, you lose your right to do so and your license will automatically be suspended at the termination of the 30-day period. In order to schedule your DMV hearing, you must contact your local DMV driver safety branch office, which is where the hearing will be held.

What Happens During a DMV Hearing?

If you do schedule a DMV DUI hearing during the 10-day window, the suspension of your driver’s license will be temporarily delayed pending the outcome of the hearing. As mentioned above, your DMV hearing occurs independently of your criminal trial and these types of hearings differ from court trials in many ways. For instance, your DMV hearing will be held at a DMV office and presided over by a DMV hearing officer, not in a courtroom by a judge, and will be much more relaxed than your DUI criminal trial. On the other hand, the “burden of proof,” or the evidence required to prove your alleged guilt, is much more easily satisfied in a DMV hearing than in a criminal case, which means the risk of you losing your driving privileges is high. The scope of a DMV DUI hearing is rather broad and will address a number of issues, including the following:

  • If the arresting officer had probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence, a violation of Vehicle Code § 23152 (a) VC
  • If the arresting officer had cause to put you under arrest
  • If you were driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, in violation of Vehicle Code § 23152 (b) VC

After considering these issues and others, the DMV officer assigned to your hearing will either decide to suspend your driver’s license, known as “sustaining the action,” or reverse the suspension of your driving privileges, known as “setting aside the action.” If the officer sustains the action, you effectively lose the hearing and your driving privileges will be suspended. If you win the hearing, the decision is the equivalent of receiving a “not guilty” verdict and you may prevent your license from being suspended altogether.

What are My Rights During a DMV Hearing?

Although DMV DUI hearings and DUI criminal proceedings differ in many important ways, you still have the same rights during a DMV hearing that you have in criminal court and it is important to be aware of these rights and how they apply to your case. For instance, you have the right to be represented by an attorney at your DMV DUI hearing. However, unlike a criminal court proceeding, the DMV will not appoint an attorney for you in the event that you can’t afford to hire one on your own. During the DMV hearing, you or your attorney have the right to:

  • Review and challenge evidence,
  • Testify on your own behalf,
  • Subpoena and present witnesses, including the arresting officer, and
  • Cross-examine witnesses.

Should I Hire an Attorney for My DMV Hearing?

It is always a good idea to have an experienced DUI defense attorney in your corner when facing the suspension of your driving privileges. In most cases, if you hire a private DUI defense attorney for your criminal trial, your attorney will represent you at the DMV hearing as well. He or she may even request and schedule the DMV hearing for you, so long as you retain his or her services within the 10-day timeframe. Additionally, unless you are planning to testify, your attorney may appear at the DMV hearing on your behalf, which means you do not need to attend.

An experienced DUI defense attorney is a tremendous asset to have on your side during a DMV hearing, as he or she can perform many functions you may not know how to do yourself, including refuting the state’s evidence against you, preventing incriminating evidence from being admitted at the hearing and presenting various legal defenses on your behalf. Hiring a criminal defense attorney with experience with DMV DUI hearings and DUI trials is the key to getting the best possible outcome in both proceedings. Some of the defense strategies a skilled DUI defense attorney may present at your DMV hearing are similar to those used in a criminal proceeding, and may include the following:

  • You were not driving
  • You were arrested at an illegal DUI checkpoint
  • The arresting officer did not have probable cause to make the initial traffic stop
  • The arresting officer did not conduct a proper 15-minute observation period
  • The BAC results of the breath test were inaccurate
  • There were other explanations for your false high BAC results
  • You did not refuse to submit to a chemical test

How Will the DMV Hearing Affect My Criminal Case?

Your DMV hearing is a separate proceeding independent of your criminal case, focusing exclusively on the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest and whether your driving privileges should be suspended as a result of the arrest. The DMV hearing will not address the issue of whether you committed a criminal act and the outcome of your DMV hearing will have no bearing on the result of your criminal case. That being said, the two proceedings are inextricably linked, and testimony obtained during your DMV hearing could convince the prosecutor to offer a reduced criminal charge as part of a plea bargain. Or, if the hearing reveals flaws in the state’s case against you, winning your DMV hearing may even result in your Orange County DUI charges being dismissed altogether. Conversely, if you receive a “not guilty” verdict in your criminal case under Vehicle Code § 23152 (b) VC, the law against driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, the DMV will be required to reissue your driver’s license.

How Long Will My License Be Suspended?

If you lose your DMV DUI hearing, the length of the resulting driver’s license suspension will depend on a number of factors, including your criminal history and the circumstances of your case.

  1. First DUI – If you are a first-time DUI offender in Orange County, and you lose your DMV hearing, your driver’s license will be suspended for four months, although you may be able to have the suspension converted to a “restricted” license after the first month. If you refuse to submit to a chemical blood or breath test, which is a violation of California’s Implied Consent Law, your license will be suspended for one year, with no provision for a restricted license.
  2. Second DUI – If you lose a DMV hearing within 10 years of a prior DMV suspension or DUI court conviction, your license will be suspended for one year, with an “IID Restriction” after 90 days. If you refuse to submit to a chemical blood or breath test, your license will be suspended for two years with no provision for a restricted license.
  3. Third DUI – If you lose a DMV hearing within 10 years of two or more prior DMV suspensions or DUI court convictions, your license will be suspended for one year, with an “IID Restriction” after 180 days. If you refuse to submit to a chemical blood or breath test, your license will be suspended for three years with no provision for a restricted license.

How Can I Get My License Reinstated?

Any time a driver loses an Orange County DMV DUI hearing, there will be some term of driver’s license suspension imposed. In order for these drivers to get their driving privileges upgraded to a “restricted” status or fully reinstated, they must fulfill the following additional obligations:

  • Enrollment in an alcohol education program,
  • Payment of a $125 license reinstatement fee,
  • Filing an SR-22 insurance form, and
  • In some cases, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in their car.

Contact Our Experienced DUI Defense Attorneys Today

Most people understand that being arrested for drunk driving in Orange County means they could end up facing criminal penalties in a court proceeding, but few people realize that the DMV can also impose certain penalties for DUI arrests. What that means is this: the DMV can suspend your license following a DUI arrest, even if you are not actually convicted of the criminal offense. If you or a loved one is facing charges for an Orange County DUI, don’t hesitate to protect your legal rights. Consult our knowledgeable DUI defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today to discuss how best to defend yourself against these criminal charges. Our legal team has more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience and we have helped thousands of Orange County residents defend themselves against drunk driving charges. Let us put our expertise to work for you.

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I had a felony and a misdemeanor charge against me, one for a DUI and another for domestic violence. CallIng Seyb Law Group was the best thing I ever did, they fought for me and got my charges significantly reduced AND kept me out of jail!! God bless you and thank you so much for what you guys did and getting me through this traumatic event. – J.T. Anaheim

Case Results

We've won 1000's of criminal & DUI cases in Orange County. Here are just a few recent victories:
  • DUI with Injury - Reduced to Wet & Reckless/No Jail
  • Domestic Violence – Reduced to Infraction/Classes Taken
  • Assault / Battery - Case Dismissed
  • 1st DUI .12 BAC - Charges Dropped
  • Grand Theft - Reduced to Infraction

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