DUI DMV Suspension Appeal Win!

We recently achieved a huge win for our client in a DUI DMV Suspension Appeal, known as a Petition for Writ of Mandate. This is a process where we sue the DMV in court and ask a judge to overturn or “set aside” the DMV hearing officer’s decision. This case was in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The DUI Arrest

Client was pulled over for speeding 70 mph in a 65 mph zone, and driving solo in the carpool lane. The police officer smelled an odor of alcohol, and initiated a DUI investigation. He arrested our client and demanded a chemical test. Client declined a breath test and said that he would need a family member to translate the blood test form. The officer got a warrant, and observed a phlebotomist draw the client’s blood. He then issued a Notice to Appear in court and a Temporary Driver License form DS367.

Prosecutors did not file a DUI case in court regarding this arrest, so we got a judge to order the arrest records sealed. This did not stop the DMV from proceeding to suspend the client’s driver’s license. We worked on this case for over a year with the DMV.

The DMV Proceedings

Before we can file a DUI DMV Suspension Appeal, we first have to go through the DMV hearing process. This is only possible if we request a DMV hearing within 10 days of the arrest. Otherwise, the driver forfeits the opportunity to challenge the driver license suspension.

In a 2022 case, an appellate court ordered the DMV to stop using a single hearing officer in dual roles – as both prosecutor and judge. This means that DMV hearing officers are no longer supposed to advocate for the Department’s position, but instead, they are supposed to act as neutral factfinders.

Well, in this case, as usual, the hearing officer couldn’t help himself. He changed the grounds for the hearing from .08%+ to a refusal hearing, with drastic consequences for the driver. When we pointed out that the DMV had not provided notice of this change, the hearing officer continued the hearing (over our objection) to give the DMV time to provide that notice. Then, the DMV still failed to provide proper notice.

Upon reconvening the hearing, we had the client testify that he had not received any notice of the change in hearing issues. The hearing officer then invaded the attorney-client privilege in his cross examination. He asked about what we had told our client about the hearing, then overruled our objection.

The Hearing Officer then issued a ruling, suspending the client’s driving privilege for a year. A note about DMV Hearing Officers – these are not attorneys; they are DMV bureaucrats with no legal training. They routinely violate the law, and DUI attorneys need to be prepared to appeal them in court.

DUI DMV Suspension Appeal Win! Petition for Writ of Mandate granted in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The DUI DMV Suspension Appeal to the Superior Court

We filed a DUI DMV Suspension Appeal as a Petition for Writ of Mandate in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. We then filed an Opening Brief, reviewed the Opposition from the California Attorney General’s Office, and filed a Reply brief. The first good sign came when the court granted a stay of the DMV suspension while this case worked its way through the court. So, our client got to continue driving until the court made its final decision.

The Court agreed that the DMV hearing officer should not have granted himself a continuance, and should not have invaded the attorney-client privilege. The Court found that the DMV hearing officer had overstepped his role as neutral factfinder. The court issued a Writ of Mandate and set aside the DMV’s driver license suspension.

The judge admonished the deputy attorney general, advising her that the DMV needs to follow the law. He said that this case was “not a close call.”

Because of the refusal allegation, the client was facing a one-year hard suspension of his driving privilege. There would have been no options for him to get a restricted license.

Is Your DUI Attorney Prepared to Go the Distance?

A small percentage of DUI defense attorneys in the Los Angeles area have experience filing DUI DMV Suspension Appeals in court. When they lose a DMV hearing, they explain to the client that it’s a messed up hearing, and they move on to the next case. You can read more about the process here.

In two other recent cases, where we sued the DMV in court, they gave up before we got to a hearing. The hearing officer improperly ruled against us. We filed DUI DMV Suspension Appeal (Petition for Writ of Mandate) in the Superior Court. Then, the DMV contacted our office and offered to set aside the suspension if we drop the lawsuit.

The time line to file an appeal in court is very short, so it’s best to hire an attorney at the beginning of case, who is ready to file an appeal if necessary. If you or a loved one are arrested for DUI in Los Angeles or the surrounding counties, call us today! Torrance attorney Don Hammond has the training, experience, and expertise to win DUI cases in court and with the DMV – and even in court against the DMV! Contact us today at 323-529-3660 for a free consultation.

The DUI Attorney Don Hammond


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