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Do I need an attorney for an administrative hearing?

If you are facing driving under the influence charges here in California, you might simultaneously have a pending hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles regarding your right to continuing to have driving privileges.

This administrative action ensures that your right to due process is not abridged and is entirely separate from -- while still related to -- your criminal offense.

This hearing will not delve into your alleged guilt or innocence. Its focus remains solely on the legitimacy of your arrest and your compliance with submitting a breath, urine or blood sample to determine whether or not you were indeed intoxicated.

For instance, those suspected of DUI who refuse to submit to chemical testing upon demand of the police officer will wind up with driving privileges suspended for a year or revoked for as long as three years.

No one is under any obligation to attend a DMV hearing. If they do, they still must attend all court appearances in their criminal trials.

The hearing officer has the power to set aside a license suspension, allowing defendants to keep their licenses without this having any repercussions on the criminal charges they face.

However, if defendants wind up acquitted in their criminal trials but lost their driving privileges administratively, those privileges will subsequently be reinstated and any suspension or revocation reversed once the acquittal is handed down.

Your criminal defense attorney can represent you in both the criminal and administrative phases of these legal processes, or you can represent yourself at the administrative hearing should you choose to do so.

Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles, "DUI Arrest: DMV Administrative Hearings vs Criminal Court Trials," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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