Articles Posted in DMV and DUI’s

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My criminal defense practice is almost exclusively in the area of drunk driving. However, I have had a few DUI cases were my client was able to prevail at the DMV APS Hearing, just to receive another notice of suspension from the DMV because of a medical issue such as diabetes, seizures, loss of consciousness or memory issues. My clients have then retained me to also defend them at the P & M Hearing in hopes of maintaining their driving privileges. Since I handle these hearings for my clients, I am now getting retained by people just to handle these DMV matters.grandmadriving-300x200

What triggers this action by the DMV is either: 1.) The “Confidential Morbidity Report” which is filled out by a treating physician; or, 2.) A “Request for Driver Reexamination” which can be filed by any person who knows of a reason why someone is unable to drive safely.

Under Health & Safety Code Section 103900, a doctor is required by law to Continue reading →

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If you are driving a vehicle in California, you have agreed to a chemical test of your breath or blood to determine the alcohol and/or drug content, if you are lawfully arrested and suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, (implied consent). The required chemical test must be given after a lawful arrest. If you refuse, you may suffer harsher consequences through the DMV and in the court.

The preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, the handheld breath test that is given at the scene, is just a field sobriety test. You can and should refuse to take that test, as well as any other field sobriety tests, unless you are under 21 or on DUI probation.

Once arrested, you must provide a sample of your breath or blood. However, in some instances, such as the other tests are not available, drugs are suspected and you cannot provide a blood test, or you have a medical condition that does not allow you to provide a breath or blood sample, a urine test may be offered instead.

If you fail to submit to a chemical test after a lawful arrest, the DMV will take immediate action on your driving privileges. You will be given notice that your driver’s license will be suspended 30 days after the arrest unless you request a hearing within 10 days after the arrest date. If you fail to request the hearing, or if the DMV does not set aside the license suspension after the hearing, your license will suspended for one year on your first offense, revoked for two years on your second offense within 10 years, and revoked for three years on your third offense within 10 years. (Note, this is separate from any action that the court may take against your license in the criminal portion of your case.)

If a DMV hearing is requested, the Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearing will only address four issues:

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Whether you are 21 years old or older, or under 21 years old, if you are arrested for driving under the influence, two separate actions are triggered. The first is the Administrative Per Se, or APS, action from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which deals with the suspension of your driving privileges. The second is the criminal process through the Superior Court, which deals with criminal penalties such as probation, fines, DUI programs, community service, possible jail time, and a range of other possible penalties. This blog article deals specifically with the Zero Tolerance Law and the DMV APS action.

In California, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. It is also illegal for anyone under 21 to drive if they have any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. Once the under 21 year old is detained or arrested, they must submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test, PAS, or other chemical test. If their blood alcohol content (BAC) is found to be .01% or greater, they will be given notice that their license will be automatically suspended in 30 days unless they request a hearing challenging the suspension within 10 days of the arrest. The suspension for a first offense is one year.

If the under 21 driver submitted a PAS sample or completed another chemical test, there are only 3 issues that the hearing officer will consider at the hearing. 1.) Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you had been driving a motor vehicle in violation of sections 23136, 23140, 23152, 23153, or 23154 of the Vehicle Code? 2.) Were you lawfully placed under arrest, or if the alleged violation was of section 23136 or 23154 of the Vehicle Code, were you lawfully detained? 3.) Were you driving a motor vehicle…under 21 years of age and had a blood alcohol concentration of .01% or more as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test, or any other chemical test?

You have a right to retain a DUI defense attorney to represent your interests at the APS hearing.

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An SR-22 is a certificate of insurance. It is proof that you have met the state’s minimum requirements for liability car insurance. This form is obtained from your insurance company and they file it with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, to show proof of financial responsibility.

The DMV may require an SR-22 when you reinstate your driving privileges after a suspension or revocation. This happens after a DUI arrest if you lose the Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearing challenging the license suspension, you do not request a hearing and your driving privileges were automatically suspended, or you were convicted or plead guilty to a drunk driving charge and the sentencing included a suspension or revocation.

After a specific amount of time, (depending on certain factors), you may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license. The restricted license allows you to drive to, from, and during the course of your employment and to and from the DUI program. The DMV will not issue the restricted license unless you register in and attend the requisite drunk driving program, pay the reissuance and restriction fee, and file an SR-22 with the department. The SR-22 must be maintained for a period of three years after a DUI suspension.

Most people request the SR-22 from the insurance company that is currently insuring them. However, that is not recommended. Insurance companies have millions of customers and it is not cost effective for them to run a record check on each and every customer. Instead, they rely on self reporting. Once you tell your insurance carrier that you need an SR-22, they will check your DMV record, looking for things like a DUI.

In many cases, the insurance company will not insure a driver with a DUI on their record, so they get dropped and the policy is cancelled. Other companies will issue the SR-22 but then raise the premium, as you may be deemed to be a “high risk driver.”

If you are dropped or you fail to maintain the SR-22 for the entire three years, the insurance company is required to notify the DMV. Your driving privilege will again be suspended unless you immediately obtain another policy.

The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman recommends you do not self report. Instead, we provide our clients with the names of insurance brokers that specifically deal with drivers with driving under the influence matters. Through these brokers, the licensee can obtain a supplemental insurance policy and an SR-22; thus, maintaining their current car insurance. And, in the event that the original insurance carrier finds out about the DUI and raises the premium or cancels the policy, the brokers will help the client find another insurance company that will insure them regardless of their DUI arrest.

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is an administrative body that deals with driver’s license issues. The DMV may initiate a inquiry into a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on several different grounds. Here, only medical issues will be discussed.

The DMV may initiate an investigation or evaluation of your ability to drive after receiving information from any source including the driver, family/friends, medical professionals, law enforcement, and others. Often, the DMV Driver’s Safety Office is provided information about a licensee’s medical condition during the Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearing following a drunk driving arrest. Even if the licensee prevails at the APS hearing and their license is reinstated and the suspension order is set aside, they may receive notice from the DMV that due to their medical condition, their driving privileges are again being threatened.

Upon receiving the information, the DMV will do one of several things. They may have the driver and their doctor fill out a Driver Medical Evaluation, or DME. If the driver fails to cooperate, their license will be suspended. If the documents are submitted, and it is determined that the driver is not a risk, no action will be taken. If further information is needed, the DMV may conduct a reexamination of the driver. If it is believed that the licensee is an immediate safety risk, their license may be suspended or revoked immediately.

The reexamination is also called a Physical and Mental Evaluation, P & M Hearing, or a medical suspension hearing. It is held by a hearing officer at the San Diego Driver’s Safety Office, not the local DMV. During the hearing, the officer will review all the supporting documents and the licensee is given an opportunity to present evidence in their defense. The licensee’s evidence should focus on their current ability to safely operate a vehicle.

After the hearing, if the hearing officer determines the driver is not a safety risk, the DMV will not take action against the licensee’s driving privileges. However, if the officer does find a safety risk, the driving privileges may be suspended until the medical condition is corrected or revoked if the condition is deemed incurable.

If additional information is needed, the hearing officer can schedule a follow-up reexamination. They may put the driver on Medical Probation I, which requires the driver to comply with their medical regimen. They may instead place the driver on Medical Probation II, which requires annual reports to the DMV. In addition, the DMV has authority to issue a limited term license, requiring the licensee return at a future date for another reevaluation, a restricted license, or suspend or revoke the driving privileges.

For many, the loss of their privilege to drive means loss of mobility and independence. Do not go into these hearings without proper counsel to give yourself the best opportunity to save your license. Drivers may be represented by counsel at these P & M Hearings and you should immediately contact a San Diego DMV hearing attorney to assist you with your case.

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In California, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. Further, anyone under the legal limit must be alcohol-free when driving. This is codified in California Vehicle Code Section 23136, the Zero Tolerance Law, which states, “[I]t is unlawful for a 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 vehicle.”

The Zero Tolerance Law is a civil offense and is handled through the DMV. Any underage driver who is detained or arrested for drunk driving is required to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) or other chemical test. If the driver refuses or fails to complete the test or the blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .01% or more, the DMV will suspend or revoke the youth’s driver’s license.

If the under 21 year old driver took the PAS or other chemical test and the results were .01% or higher, their driver’s license suspension is one year. If the driver refused or failed to complete the test, the license suspension is one year for the first offense, revoked for two years for the second offense within 10 years, and revoked for three years for three or more offenses within 10 years.

The Suspension/Revocation Order and Temporary Driver License will allow the driver to continue to drive with the same privileges and restrictions as they had under their driver’s license for a period of 30 days from the date it was issued. After that 30-day period, the driver’s license is automatically suspended or revoked unless within 10 days after the date of detention or arrest the DMV is contacted to request a hearing to challenge the suspension or revocation. You may hire a San Diego criminal defense attorney to represent you and your interests at the DMV hearing. If you prevail at the hearing, the suspension or revocation will be set aside and your driving privileges are restored in full.

On the first offense, if the suspension or revocation is not challenged or if you do not prevail after the DMV hearing, but the driver completed a chemical test, the driver may apply for a critical need restriction after the 30-day suspension, under CVC 12513, 13353.8. This will only be granted if the driver can show a critical need to drive and that other transportation options are inadequate.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23136 does not preclude further criminal prosecution under the other driving under the influence statutes including CVC Section 23152 and 23153, which are wobblers, meaning they can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. In addition, there is another CVC section that specifically deals with under 21 drivers, CVC Section 23140. Under this section, is it an infraction for anyone under 21 years old to drive with a blood-alcohol content of .05 — .07%.

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. For information about a specific case, speak to a drunk driving attorney in your area.

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sleep.jpgIn the San Diego courts, if you plead guilty or you are convicted of a first drunk driving offense, the court will order you to enroll and complete a first conviction program. There is a 3-month program and a 9-month program.

The 3-month Drunk Driving First Conviction Program is the standard program ordered by the court. However, the court will impose the enhanced 9-month program if the blood-alcohol content (or BAC) was at or above .20%. Defendants must be aware of this if they want to obtain a restricted driver’s license after the Administrative Per Se suspension imposed by the DMV. The DMV will only require enrollment in a 3-month program for the restriction; however, after the court process is complete, the defendant may have to enroll and complete the 9-month program instead.

In order to comply with the court ordered 9-month first conviction program, you must attend a court approved program. These can be found on the San Diego Court’s website. The nine month course costs $1,190.00 and includes:

  • Six education classes, 1 class per week, 2 hours per class;
  • Thirty counseling group sessions, 1 session per week, 1.5 hours per session;
  • Twenty face-to-face interviews, 1 bi-weekly, 20 minutes per interview; and,
  • Thirty-nine self-help meetings, 1 per week.

You can enroll using the DMV DUI paperwork or the court referral form. However, you want to make sure you enroll in the right program.

Failure to enroll and/or complete the ordered program by the dates set by the court will result in a probation violation. In addition, the DMV will not allow you to apply for a restricted driver’s license until you enroll and you will not be eligible to reinstate your driving privileges in full until you complete the requisite program.

The most confusing issues for DUI defendants revolve around the interaction between the DMV and the court consequences and the defendant’s driving privileges. For the most up to date information, contact a criminal defense lawyer in your area that exclusively deals with drunk driving matters.

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meeting.jpgFirst off, if you are stopped by law enforcement and they have probable cause to believe you are driving while under the influence of alcohol with a .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher, they will give you an “Administrative Per Se Suspension/Revocation Order and Temporary Driver License” form. This document allows you to drive with all your normal privileges like your original driver’s license for thirty days after the date of your arrest. After the thirty days, your license will automatically be suspended unless you contact the DMV within ten days after the date of arrest to request a hearing to challenge the automatic suspension.

If you fail to request a hearing or you lose the hearing, the DMV will suspend your driving privileges for four months. However, after thirty days into the suspension, you can apply for a restricted driver’s license. This restricted license will allow you to drive to, from, and during the course of your employment, and to and from any DUI programs, and will last five months.

In order to get this restriction, you will need to register for a First Conviction Program (FCP), pay a $125 reissuance fee, and file proof of financial responsibility (SR-22 form).

If you plead guilty to drunk driving in court or you are convicted after a trial, the court will suspend your driving privileges for six months and order you to complete the FCP.

If your BAC was below .20%, you will be ordered to complete a three month FCP. If your BAC was .20% or greater or you refused to take a chemical test after a lawful arrest, the court will order you to complete the nine month First Conviction Program. (Note: The nine month FCP will be discussed in a later blog.)

In order to comply with the court ordered program, you must attend a court approved First Conviction Program. These can be found on the San Diego Court’s website. The three month course costs $477.00 and includes:

  • Six education classes, 1 class per week, 2 hours per class;
  • Twelve counseling groups, 1 session per week, 1.5 hours per session;
  • Three face-to-face interviews, 1 per month, 20 minutes per interview; and,
  • Three self-help meetings, 1 per month.

You can enroll using the DMV paperwork or the court referral form. However, you want to make sure you enroll in the right program.

The most confusing issues for DUI defendants revolve around the interaction between the DMV and the court consequences and the defendant’s driving privileges. For the most up to date information and to discuss your specific facts and issues, contact a criminal defense attorney in your area that exclusively deals with drunk driving matters.

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In California, a bill was introduced that would require all people with a second or subsequent drunk driving conviction to install an ignition interlock device, or IID, in their car, State Senator Jerry Hill announced on Friday, according to NBCSanDiego.com. According to the bill, a second conviction would require the installation and use of the IID for one year. Upon the third conviction, the IID would be required for two years. On a fourth or subsequent conviction, the defendant would be ordered to comply for three years.

An ignition interlock device is a machine that is installed in your car’s ignition. In order for your car to start, the driver must first blow into the machine. If no alcohol is detected, the car will start. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start. In addition, as the car is running, it requires additional breath samples with no alcohol detected to keep the car operational.

As of July 1, 2010, California began a pilot program for IID use. According to the pilot program, if the DUI violation occurred in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, or Tulare, California, the convicted is required to install an IID in all vehicles that s/he owns or operates, even on their first drunk driving offense, before applying for a restricted driver’s license. First time offenders must maintain the device for 5 months. Second time offenders must maintain the device for a year. Third time is 2 years and the fourth and subsequent offenders must comply for three years. (Note: This program is expected to expire on January 1st, 2016.)

Under the current law, if you are not in one of the above-referenced counties, such as San Diego, you usually will not be ordered to install an IID on a first driving under the influence conviction. However, courts do have discretion to order this and it “shall give heightened consideration to applying this sanction to a first offense violator with 0.15 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at arrest, or with two or more prior moving traffic violations, or to persons who refused the chemical tests at arrest.” (See California Vehicle Code Section 23575.) The court has discretion in ordering a term not to exceed three years from the date of conviction.

In a second or subsequent DUI conviction that involved alcohol not drugs, the defendant may shorten the license suspension or revocation by agreeing to install the IID.

Even if the court does not order the IID, the DMV is required to order the installation when a person is convicted of driving with a suspended or revoked license and that suspension or revocation is due to a prior DUI, California Vehicle Code Section 14601.2, 14601.4, or 14601.5.

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.

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hearing.jpgA driver is arrested in San Diego County and is charged with drunk driving. Two processes begin: 1.) The criminal process involving the courts; and, 2.) The administrative action involving the California Department of Motor Vehicles, (DMV).

The San Diego criminal action is either not filed or the matter is filed but later it is dismissed by the prosecutor. How does this affect the administrative process and the driver’s license suspension?

Once arrested for driving under the influence, the driver has 10 days from the date of receiving the Administrative Per Se Suspension/Revocation Order and Temporary Driver License to request a DMV APS Hearing to challenge the automatic suspension of the driver’s license. If the DMV finds for the driver and reinstates their full driving privileges, there is nothing that the driver needs to do after finding out charges will not be filed or if the criminal case is dismissed.

However, if the DMV finds against the driver and subsequently suspends the licensee’s privilege to drive, but later the prosecutor decides not to file charges or dismisses the pending DUI charges due to lack of or insufficiency of the evidence, the DMV may grant a renewed right to request an administrative hearing under California Vehicle Code Section 13353.2(e).

In order to request this rehearing, the driver, (or his/her DUI defense attorney), must request from the DMV form DS 702, the Administrative Per Se Notice of Failure to File or Dismissal of Criminal Charges. The prosecutor must agree to fill out the form, indicating why the matter was dismissed or not filed. That form is then sent to the Sacramento DMV Office. This must be done within one year of the date of arrest.

The DMV has discretion in deciding to reopen the matter. If approved, the file is sent back to the local Drivers Safety Office for a rehearing. This is basically a new hearing, where all documents and testimony must be re-entered into evidence and any new evidence must be presented to the hearing officer.

Most often, the hearing office does not render a decision at the hearing. Instead, the Notice of Findings and Decision are sent in the mail.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in San Diego County, you owe it to yourself to hire an exclusively, DUI defense firm that can advise you on your specific case. The above blog entry is not legal advice and may not pertain to your driving under the influence matter.

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