San Diego DMV Hearings Attorney
Avoid Driver’s License Suspensions with a Proactive, Aggressive Defense
While driving may be a privilege and not a right, it has become a necessity in today’s society. Driving plays an essential role in the ability to conduct everyday affairs. Without the ability to drive, even the simplest task, such as grocery shopping, becomes an overwhelming and frustrating process. Unfortunately, the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) does not care if you need to drive to get to work or school—but San Diego DMV hearings attorney George H. Ramos, Jr. does.
DMV administrative hearings are very technical and intimidating. Individuals who attempt to battle the DMV on their own are usually unsuccessful. At the law firm of George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates, our experienced San Diego DMV hearings attorney has a full and thorough understanding of how driver’s license suspension laws play out in actual DMV proceedings and use this knowledge to provide clients with the proactive, aggressive defense they need to protect their driving privileges.
Don’t run the risk of losing your license. Contact George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates today.
- How do Administrative Per Se hearings work?
- How strict are underage DUI laws in California?
- What are negligent operator hearings?
- If the DMV revokes your license because of a health or mental issue, how does the medical reexamination process work?
- How does priority re-examination notices work?
- How to hire a San Diego DMV hearings attorney
Administrative Per Se Hearings— DUI Arrests
In California, a DUI arrest results in two separate cases. The California DMV regulates licensing and takes administrative and disciplinary action. This is separate and apart from a criminal proceeding involving driving under the influence of alcohol. In order to retain your driving privileges under this circumstance, swift action is required, as the right to contest DMV action against your driver’s license is time sensitive.
When a driver is arrested for a DUI, the officer immediately confiscates that individual’s driver’s license and issues him or her a pink piece of paper. This piece of paper serves as a formal notice of license suspension and acts as a temporary license, valid for 30 days. In this case, contact a San Diego DUI attorney immediately.
Drivers have 10 calendar days from the date the Notice of Suspension is issued, including weekends and holidays, to contact the DMV and request a hearing, known as an Administrative Per Se hearing (“APS hearings”). Failure to contact the DMV within that time results in the loss of the right to be heard. Subsequently, the driver’s license will automatically be suspended once the 30-day temporary license expires.
APS hearings take place at the California DMV Driver Safety Office and are conducted by DMV hearing officers who act as both the judge and prosecutor in the proceeding. The issues determined at the hearing will depend on whether the driver submitted or refused to submit to chemical testing of his or her blood or breath. Fifth Amendment protections do not apply in this setting, and drivers may be called as witnesses by the hearing officer.
While drivers have the right to present a defense, APS hearings are not criminal, and therefore public defenders are not provided. Due to the lack of an impartial judge, it is strongly urged that individuals seek representation for APS hearings.
Suspensions and Penalties
In California, a first-time DUI offense in ten years can result in a four-month driver’s license suspension. However, if the driver refused a chemical test, the DMV will impose a one-year suspension. For the second offense within a ten-year period, drivers face a one-year license suspension or a two-year suspension if they refused to submit to chemical testing. The third offense results in a driver’s license suspension for three years.
At George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates, our experienced San Diego DMV hearings attorney has been extremely successful in winning APS hearings as he makes a special effort to clarify the issues for the hearing officer, as well as uses their own training materials and internal memoranda as authority for his position. Attorney George H. Ramos, Jr. also does full discovery, issuing subpoenas for the arresting officer’s training records, and the maintenance and calibration records for any machine used to give a blood alcohol test to our client. Every tool in the arsenal is used to ensure your driving privileges are not suspended.
Convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are eligible to be removed from your record. Contact an expungement attorney in San Diego to discuss getting your mistake removed from your record.
California Zero Tolerance Law—Underage DUIs
Under California’s zero tolerance law, the DMV is authorized to suspend the driver’s license of any individual, under the age of 21, who drives with any measurable amount of alcohol in his or her system. Such offenses can result in a one-year driver’s license suspension or a one-year postponement if the individual has yet to obtain a driver’s license.
Certain case law provides that a portable breath machine carried in a police vehicle (commonly called a PAS test: “Preliminary Alcohol Screening”) is not assumed to be as reliable as the larger breath test machine in a custody facility. Certain foundational facts must be established by the DMV.
It is our experience that some police departments do not properly train their personnel in the use of the PAS test, or properly maintain and calibrate the PAS device. This means that a minor’s chance to keep their driving privilege is better than is usually believed.
However, certain technical issues must be brought forth by the issuing of subpoenas before a minor can effectively defend their driving privilege in a “zero tolerance” hearing. If you’re facing San Diego, California DMV hearings, contact the lawyers at George H. Ramos, Jr. for aggressive, experienced representation.
Negligent Operator Hearings
The California DMV can suspend or revoke an individual’s driver’s license upon a determination that the individual is a “negligent operator.” Under section 12810.5 of the California Vehicle Code, a negligent operator is defined as any driver whose driving record shows a violation point count of four points in 12 months, six points in 24 months, or eight points in 36 months.
Individuals accumulate points on their driving records when the DMV receives notification from courts and reports from law enforcement agencies that the driver was responsible for an automobile accident or committed a moving violation, a mechanical violation affecting safe driving, or a criminal driving offense. Driving offenses such as hit and run, reckless driving, and driving under the influence are designated as two points. Most other offenses, such as speeding, running a stop sign, and illegal passing are designated as one point.
The DMV utilizes a computer system known as “NOTS”, Negligent Operator Treatment System, which monitors California driving records and the points accumulated for violations. The NOTS program consists of four levels; once a driver accumulates a certain number of points, the computer system generates the appropriate letter for the level reached, which is then mailed to the driver:
- Level 1: Warning Letter
A driver will receive a warning letter when he or she accumulates two points within any 12 month period, four points within any 24 month period, or six points within any 36 month period.
- Level 2: Notice of Intent to Suspend
A driver will receive a notice of intent to suspend letter when he or she accumulates three points within any 12 month period, five points within any 24 month period, or 7 points within any 36 month period.
- Level 3: Probation and Suspension Letter
A driver will receive probation and suspension if he or she has received four points within a 12 month period, six points within a 24 month period, or 8 points within a 36 month period. This letter informs the driver that within 34 days of the date of the letter, the driver will be declared a negligent operator, receive a six-month license suspension, and be placed on probation for one year.
- Level 4: Suspension or Revocation Letter
A driver who violates his or her negligent operator probationary license will receive a suspension or revocation letter. Each violation of probation can result in an additional six-month license suspension and an additional one year of probation. Upon a third violation, an individual’s driver’s license will be revoked for one year. If revoked, the individual must apply for a new license after the revocation period.
California drivers are entitled to a hearing upon request before their license may be suspended on the grounds that they are a negligent operator or before additional penalties may be imposed for violation of probation. However, drivers must contact the DMV and request a hearing within 10 days of receiving a negligent operator letter. Otherwise, the right to a hearing is deemed waived. Therefore, if you have received a level 3 or level 4 letter, it is imperative that you contact a DMV hearings attorney immediately to protect your driving privileges.
The negligent operator hearing will take place at a DMV driver safety branch office. It will be conducted by a DMV hearing officer. At the hearing, the officer will evaluate your driving record thoroughly and determine whether to declare you a negligent operator. Then, the officer will determine the type of action to take against your driver’s license. The standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, meaning the officer need only conclude that it is more likely than not that you are a negligent operator to take action against your driver’s license.
At George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates, our experienced San Diego DMV hearings attorney can request a hearing on your behalf. Fully aware of the necessity of having a driver’s license, he will aggressively defend you at your hearing by attacking the basis on which each point was awarded and by providing a thorough account of any and all mitigating circumstances to persuade the officer to conclude that your license should not be suspended or revoked.
Physical and Mental Re-examinations
The DMV may restrict, suspend, or revoke the driver’s license of any individual who suffers from a physical or mental condition that affects his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. A DMV investigation into an individual’s driving abilities may be triggered by certain information. Information may come from a variety of sources, including judges, law enforcement officers, family members, and physicians.
Physicians, in particular, have the discretion to report any condition they believe affects an individual’s ability to drive. They are also required by law to report individuals who suffer from certain medical conditions including:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Epilepsy or Seizures
- Lapses in Consciousness
- Macular Degeneration
- Muscular Dystrophy
If the DMV receives notification regarding a medical condition that affects a person’s driving abilities, the driver may be required to submit a DMV Driver Medical Evaluation (“DME”) and attend a re-examination hearing that will be scheduled for no less than ten days from the date of the notice.
The DME is a five-page document calling for the completion of a comprehensive health history by both the driver and his or her physician. The driver and physician must then sign the document under penalty of perjury. At the re-examination hearing, a DMV hearing officer will review your DME form, hear testimony from you and/or your physician, and administer a written, vision, and/or driving skills test. Failure to appear for the hearing will result in automatic driver’s license suspension.
The DMV is often unsophisticated and ill-informed in their approach to these situations. Proper representation from a seasoned San Diego DMV hearings lawyer and expert testimony can be quite helpful.
Priority Re-Examination Notice
In certain cases, the DMV may order a priority re-examination. A priority re-examination is an immediate evaluation of a driver by a DMV Driver Safety hearing officer. Such examinations are required when the DMV receives a report from a law enforcement officer who personally observed a driver exhibiting evidence of physical or mental incapacity and therefore believes that a driver poses a significant safety risk.
Unlike regular physical and mental re-examinations, priority re-examinations are not automatically scheduled. A driver must contact the DMV within 5 days of receiving a Priority Re-Examination Notice and schedule a hearing, or his or her license will be suspended.
Facing a Driver’s License Suspension? We Can Help!
Don’t give up your driver’s license without a fight. At George H. Ramos, Jr. & Associates, our San Diego DMV hearings lawyer has the knowledge and experience it takes to ensure you avoid a license suspension. Contact our office today for a free initial consultation.