If you're charged with driving under the influence, one of the first processes you may go through (if you request it) is a DMV hearing. The proceeding is held to determine whether or not your driver's license should be suspended.
As part of your case, you will also be scheduled to appear in court. Unlike the DMV hearing, this is not an optional proceeding; you are required to attend. The trial is to determine whether or not you are guilty of the offense.
It's important to note that the administrative hearing and the court proceeding are separate. Thus, the outcome of your hearing will likely not affect what happens with your criminal case.
The Factors Considered at a DMV Hearing
The DMV hearing is only concerned with what happens to your driver's license. Do you get to maintain your driving privileges, or will they be suspended? To determine the answer to this question, the Driver Safety Hearing Officer from the DMV will consider various factors, mainly having to do with the technical aspects of your arrest and the chemical test.
The hearing officer will be focused on whether:
- The police officer had probable cause to stop you;
- Your arrest was lawful;
- The officer told you that refusing a chemical test would result in the suspension or revocation of your driver's license for a certain period;
- You had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher (if you took a chemical test); and
- You refused to submit to a chemical test after being requested to do so by the police officer
Depending on the evidence submitted in your case, the hearing officer may decide to uphold or set aside your driver's license suspension.
Some of the factors the hearing officer reviews are similar to those considered in your criminal case. However, even if the hearing officer decides that the loss of your driving privileges is unwarranted, that does not mean your case will be dismissed or your impaired driving charges will be dropped. You must still go through the trial to defend your innocence. But depending on the reason the hearing officer rescinds the suspension, you may be able to raise the outcome as a defense in court.
The Elements of a DUI
When your case is heard in court, a judge or jury will listen to the evidence you and the prosecutor provide to decide whether or not you drove under the influence.
During your case, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
The elements they must prove include the following:
- You drove your car, and
- You had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or
- Your abilities were impaired by alcohol and/or drugs to the point that you couldn't operate your vehicle with necessary caution or care
Whereas the results of your administrative hearing might not have an impact on your criminal case, the outcome of your criminal case can affect your driving privileges. If the DMV determines that what happened in court substantially affects the decision made at your hearing, it might reverse the suspension or revocation of your driver's license.
Because various factors can influence what happens at your administrative hearing or in court, it's beneficial to speak with an attorney about your case.
At Koenig Law Office, our lawyer has extensive experience and in-depth knowledge about both processes at work in a DUI matter. We can adeptly guide you through your case in Bakersfield. Call (661) 793-7222 or submit an online contact form today.