If you have received a criminal charge for allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance, you might be confused as to the various stages of the process. Although a DMV hearing may seem similar to appearing in court to defend against your DUI charges, there are important differences in these two proceedings to keep in mind as you prepare.
DMV hearings are by request
The first difference between the two proceedings is that, in California, a DMV hearing is optional – while a court appearance is not. Rather than a compulsory criminal hearing, DMV hearings are available by request for your benefit. It is up to you whether you want to take advantage of the opportunity for a hearing or not.
At the moment of your arrest, the police officer likely revoked your license and issued you a temporary license so that you could get home. Depending on the alleged offense, the DMV can suspend your drivers’ license for a time or completely revoke it.
If this happened to you, you should have received notice of your right to a DMV hearing. The Constitution doesn’t allow the government to take property from you without offering you due process – which means a right to contest the taking and make your case for why you should retain your property. Thus, if the DMV suspends or revokes your license, they must give you the opportunity to request a DMV hearing if you want one.
The results of a DMV hearing are reversible
If you decide to hire an attorney and attend your DMV hearing, you might be able to make the case for why your license should not be suspended. But what happens if you lose the hearing?
Your court hearing and your DMV hearing are two separate proceedings. However, your court hearing has the potential of overturning the results of your DMV hearing. If you lost your DMV hearing, but the court ultimately finds you not guilty of the alleged DUI, the DMV will re-issue you your license.
Although the DUI process is complex and stressful, it’s good to know that you have the option of requesting a DMV hearing to try to restore your driving privileges. You can decide whether or not you want to invest the time to take advantage of that opportunity.