By John W. Thornton

dmv issues, DUI arrest, Santa Cruz criminal lawyerYes, almost certainly. We have all had our issues with DMV, these compound in the aftermath of a DUI arrest. While there are some cases that do not result in DMV hassles, they are rare. What follows is but a few examples of what to expect.

First, let me explain the change in attitude at DMV since the "administrative per se laws" went into effect in 1990. It is best summarized by what can be found on the wall in the room in the Capitola DMV Office where DMV hearings are conducted. When I first began doing DMV hearings, there was a big sign that announced your rights as someone facing license discipline: the right to an attorney, to subpoena witnesses, right to testify, etc. After a few years, this notice was pushed aside and, in its place, was placed a notice regarding what charges you can expect for threatening the hearing officer (DMV judge). Now, there is a list of items for which you can be arrested for bringing into the hearing office (firearms, knives, mace, etc.).

If you were arrested for a DUI involving alcohol, you were likely given a pink temporary paper license that, amongst other things, explains that you need to call DMV to request a hearing within ten days of the arrest should you choose to try and keep your privilege to drive. It then gives a Sacramento (916) area code number to call to request the hearing.

This is just a number that will refer you to another number to call, and that's if you're lucky enough to get through to the machine and not get cut-off/put on perpetual hold. If you go in person to the DMV to request the hearing (don't), you will nearly certainly be misadvised to "just wait until court." If you do that, your ten days will expire and you won't have the ability to challenge the suspension.

What about the hearing itself? First off, it is one of the only areas of law where the hearing has a judge and prosecutor who are one and the same person. That's right – the would-be independent judge is also the person who introduces the evidence you. There is currently a lawsuit pending to end this unfortunate set of circumstances; DMV is fighting to keep things the way they are.

What about reinstating a license once the suspension time is up? Often, the DMV provides unnecessary hurdles there. Time and time again, my clients who have sought reinstatement are told to come back another day, which they are simply going to be suspended again through another procedure, and they might as well deal with the whole thing at once. These are folks who go into DMV with a suspended license, and could be walking out with a license allowing work-related driving, but are talked out of it by a DMV employee. Every time a client of mine is going to the DMV under these circumstances, I prepare them for this scenario – and routinely they call to say “they really did try to talk me out of it!”

CAVEAT: There really are some DMV employees who are motivated to do the right thing, and do the right thing. They are sincerely appreciated.

For more information about how a DUI can affect your life, contact a skilled Santa Cruz DUI attorney. John W. Thornton, Attorney at Law, has assisted clients in the Bay Area for nearly 25 years. Call 831-426-5800 to schedule a free initial consultation.