DUI FAQs

California DUI Arrest: DMV Administrative Hearings vs. Criminal Court Trials - Q. & A.

I am scheduled to appear in court on the California DUI charge. Is this similar to a California DMV hearing?
No. The DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding regarding the suspension or revocation of your driving privilege only.

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Why does California DMV offer the right to a hearing if I am already scheduled to appear in court for the California DUI charge?
Both the California and U.S. Constitutions provide that no person shall be deprived of property without due process of law. Due process of law entitles you to a notice of the action California DMV intends to take against your driving privilege and an opportunity to be heard (hearing).

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How is the California DMV hearing different from the court trial for the California DUI?

The California DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding regarding your driving privilege and the circumstances surrounding the California DUI arrest, not whether you are innocent or guilty of the criminal act of a California DUI. Only the following issues (including a number of critical legal subissues) will be addressed:
• If you took a blood or breath or (if applicable) a urine test:
1. Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23140 , 23152 , or 23153 ?
2. Were you placed under lawful arrest?
3. Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in your blood?
• If you refused or failed to complete a blood, breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test:
1. Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23140 , 23152 , or, 23153 ?
2. Were you placed under lawful arrest?
3. Were you told that if you refused to submit to or failed to complete a test of your blood, breath, or (when applicable) urine, your driving privilege would be suspended for one year or revoked for two or three years?
4. Did you refuse to submit to or failed to complete a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test after being requested to do so by a peace officer?
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Am I obligated to have a California DMV hearing?

No. You are not required to request a California DMV hearing. But if you want to save your driving privileges, arising out of a California DUI, your California DUI attorney must contact DMV within ten (10) calendar days from the arrest. Check your pink order of suspension and contact a California DUI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.

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Does the California DMV administrative hearing substitute for the California DUI court trial?
No. The California DMV hearing and the California DUI court trial are independent of each other. The DMV hearing deals with the circumstances surrounding a California DUI arrest. The California DUI court trial deals with whether you are innocent or guilty of one or more criminal acts including California DUI.

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The suspension of my driving privilege was sustained following my DMV hearing, but I was found Not Guilty of the California DUI charge in criminal court. Do I get my license back?
When a driver has been acquitted – after a court trial – of driving with .08% BAC or more, a suspension or revocation will be reversed when it is determined by California DMV that the court action does, in fact, equal an acquittal.

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The suspension of my driving privilege was sustained following my DMV hearing, but the California DUI charge was reduced in criminal court. Do I get my license back?
No. A reduction of a California DUI charge in the criminal court is separate and independent from the California DMV administrative proceeding, and does not affect the driving privilege suspension arising out of the administrative proceeding.

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The suspension of my driving privilege was sustained following my DMV hearing, but the California DUI charges were dismissed in the criminal court. Do I get my license back?
Not necessarily. Current law may permit a driver to apply for a renewed right to a hearing within one year of the arrest date when a California DUI charge is dismissed or not filed by a District Attorney due to lack of evidence, or filed, but later dismissed by the court because of insufficient evidence.

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I was convicted in court of the first-time offense California DUI charge, but it was indicated I could get a restricted license. How do I obtain this restriction?
If you have a non-commercial driver license and your alcohol program provides DMV with proof of enrollment in a first conviction program, your insurance company files proof of an SR-22 filing (financial responsibility), and you pay a $125 reissue fee after any 30-day suspension, you may apply for a restricted license to drive to and from the program and/or to, from, and during work. The reissue fee is $100 if you were under age 21 and were suspended under the Zero Tolerance Law pursuant to Vehicle Code §§23136, 13353.1, 13388, 13392. There may be another DMV reissue fee once California DMV receives notice from the court of any conviction.

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My California DUI Lawyer had a California DMV hearing and the hearing officer set aside the suspension and let me keep my license. Does this have any effect on what happens to the California DUI charge in criminal court?

No. The DMV hearing officer can only set aside the administrative action against your driving privilege. This decision is separate and/or independent from any criminal California DUI charge, sanction, penalty, or decision.