When your license is taken from you after a California DUI arrest, you are entitled to an administrative hearing with the DMV on whether that action was justified. Upon scheduling your hearing, a hearing officer will be assigned to your case. But what are their qualifications?
Is my DMV hearing officer a lawyer or judge?
No. The outcome of your legal hearing will not be determined by a person with any credible legal training or education. In fact, according to the DMV, a hearing officer applicant is not even required to have a college degree.
If my DMV hearing officer is not a lawyer or a judge, does that mean my DMV hearing will not involve any legal issues?
No. Your hearing will most likely involve three issues:
- Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of CVC §§23152, 23153, or 23154?
- Were you lawfully detained while on DUI probation or lawfully arrested?, and
- Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had 0.01% BAC or more while on DUI probation; 0.04% BAC or more while driving a commercial vehicle; or 0.08% BAC or more while driving a noncommercial vehicle.
Each one of these issues is littered with evidentiary and constitutional legal questions that can easily be overlooked and dismissed by someone without proper legal training.
For example, an illegal stop/arrest in violation of the 4th amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure might get your case dismissed by a judge in court, but go right over the head of your hearing officer.
Is there any way to use this information to my advantage?
Yes. By hiring a lawyer, you ensure that you are the only party in your DMV hearing with the proper legal training and experience to highlight the issues in your case that would otherwise be overlooked by your hearing officer.