Drivers arrested for multiple DUI / DWI offenses within 10 years face serious consequences at the DMV. The DMV will attempt to suspend a suspected drunk driver’s license in what is known as an administrative per se (APS) hearing.
Drivers arrested for DUI / DWI have only 10 calendar days to request a DMV hearing. If no hearing is requested within 10 days, the DMV will automatically begin the process of suspending a driver’s license. An experienced California DUI / DWI criminal defense lawyer can represent the interests of an accused drunk driver at an APS hearing and fight to maintain the individual’s driving privileges.
The sanctions faced by drivers with multiple DUI / DWI arrests after an unsuccessful APS hearing depends on whether the motorist refused to take a chemical test. A driver arrested twice for DUI within 10 years who agreed to a chemical test faces a one-year license suspension and the requirement to file formal proof of insurance (an SR-22) with the DMV for the next three years. The motorist also is required to enroll in alcohol education classes. The driver may be entitled to a restricted license that allows travel to work and alcohol education classes.
Second-time DUI / DWI drivers who refuse to take a chemical test face harsher consequences. Drivers who refuse a chemical test also face a license suspension of one year, but have no opportunity to obtain a restricted license. The driver must file an SR-22 in order to have the license reinstated at the end of the suspension period.
The DMV must determine three facts in order to suspend a driver’s license at an APS hearing – that police had a reasonable belief that the driver committed a crime, that the arrest was lawful, and that the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or greater while behind the wheel. A skilled DUI / DWI criminal defense attorney will cast doubt on all three of these assertions.
Keep in mind that punishment imposed in connection with an APS hearing is separate from any consequences stemming from a court conviction. Although courts no longer have the authority to order driver’s license suspensions, the DMV will suspend a driver’s license for two years upon learning of a second drunk driving conviction within 10 years. This suspension is concurrent with, not in addition to, any APS suspension. The DMV also will require the installation of an ignition interlock device and attendance at an 18- to 30 month alcohol education class.
Although drivers with two DUI / DWI arrests within 10 years can lose driving privileges as a result of an unsuccessful APS hearing or a criminal court conviction, both actions can be successfully challenged. An experienced California DUI / DWI attorney can defend a motorist vigorously at both the DMV and in court, and fight to retain the driver’s license.