It all starts with a letter telling you your license will be suspended, or a police officer confiscates your driver's license following an arrest, either way a lawyer can help get it back. Attorney Matthew Ruff defends clients before the California Department of Motor Vehicles for all license suspension matters. He has handled in excess of 1000 hearings throughout the state. Matthew has over 21 years experience fighting the DMV for his clients.
If you have been given notice of a pending suspension or revocation of your CA driving privilege you need to act quickly to hire a lawyer and contest the action, the law only gives you a limited time to challenge the DMV's decision. Call Matthew Directly at 310-527-4100
Among the hearings Matthew has defended are:
License Suspension for DUI
Negligent Operator Drivers License Suspensions
Senior Driver License Suspensions (Lack of Skill)
DMV HEARINGS FOR DUI SUSPENSION
After a DUI arrest the DMV MUST be contacted within 10 days to avoid automatic suspension of a driver license. It is CRITICAL that the DMV be contacted by the individual's attorney within 10 calendar days of the arrest. On the 11th day, the DMV will refuse to provide a hearing and the suspension will automatically take effect in 30 days. If an attorney has not been retained within the 10-day window, the individual should contact the local Drivers Safety Office himself. In Southern California DMV Driver Safety offices are located in El Segundo, City of Commerce, Irvine, San Bernardino and San Diego. In Kern County the offices are located in Fresno and Bakersfield.
It is strongly recommended that a DMV hearing be requested. There is a good chance of having the suspension thrown out if represented by an experienced DMV Attorney.
When a California driver is arrested the law requires he or she be given a choice of a breath or blood test. If (1) a breath test indicates .08% blood-alcohol or more, or (2) a blood (or, if neither breath nor blood are available, urine) is taken for later analysis, or (3) the individual refuses to submit to chemical testing, his driver's license is immediately confiscated by the police (unless it is an out-of-state license) and he is issued a pink sheet of paper. This paper serves as (1) a formal notice of immediate suspension, (2) a temporary license valid for 30 days, and (3) a technical explanation of the laws and procedures involved.
If this is a first offense within 10 years, the license will be suspended for 4 months. This can be reduced to 1 month followed by 5 months of work restriction if the individual files proof of enrollment in a DUI school and proof of insurance (the "SR-22" form). If the case involves a refusal to submit to chemical testing, the suspension is for 1 year; no work restriction is possible. A 2nd offense within 10 years carries a 1-year suspension, 2 years if a refusal. If the driver was under 21 years of age at the time of the violation and has been suspended under the zero tolerance per se law, a work and school restricted drivers license can be obtained by completing a critical need application from the DMV.
If the individual was recently arrested or given a citation, The driver has ten days within which to call the Drivers Safety Office of the Department of Motor Vehicles to contest the suspension at an administrative hearing. This is called the Administrative Per Se Suspension ("APS").
In most cases, due to work overload, the DMV will be unable to provide a hearing before the 30-day temporary license expires. In that event, the lawyer should demand -- and will receive -- an extension of the temporary license (called a "stay") until the hearing is provided and a subsequent decision rendered.
This "APS" suspension is based upon California's so-called "implied consent" laws: any person driving in this state is "presumed" to impliedly consent to chemical testing if he is suspected of drunk driving. It would certainly seem, however, that the procedure violates the U.S. Constitution. First, there appears to be a presumption of guilt and lack of due process: the officer is judge, jury and executioner. Second, it would seem to constitute "double jeopardy": the individual is being charged with a criminal offense and punished (including a license restriction) in court -- and then is accused in a separate proceeding and punished again with a license suspension. The courts, however, have used strained logic in concluding that one is criminal and the other administrative -- a license suspension is simply an "administrative sanction", not a "punishment"!
The hearing is conducted by a hearing officer who is an employee of the DMV. This person, although not legally trained, will act as the "judge" -- and also as the prosecutor! He can, for example, rule on his own objections. The hearing is conducted like a miniature trial, but without jury and with somewhat different rules of evidence. The defenses tend to be more technical than in court, with procedural and bureaucratic errors often the grounds for a "set-aside" of the suspension. Because of the technical nature of these hearings and the lack of an independent judge, it is inadvisable to attempt to represent yourself. And because they are not criminal in nature, public defenders are unavailable.
Even though these hearings seem to be futile for the accused, our office routinely is able to dwell on the "technicalities" in the case to secure a win for the client.
For example: in a recent case we were able to obtain a set aside of our client's suspension in spite of the breath results of nearly 4 times the legal limit!
Testimony can be produced by both sides, although the hearing officer usually only produces documents, such as police reports, laboratory reports and the officer's sworn affidavit. Because there is no Fifth Amendment right at the hearing, the attorney may or may not choose to have the client at the hearing since he can be called by the hearing officer as a witness. A decision is usually not rendered until some days or even weeks after the hearing. If adverse, the decision can be appealed to the DMV in Sacramento and/or to the courts by filing a "writ".
Negligent Operator Hearings
Once you are licensed to drive in California, If you start accumulating too many tickets for moving violations, which count as 1 or 2 points, you may be considered a negligent operator and lose your driver license for having too many points.
Most driving offenses, such as hit and run, reckless driving, and driving under the influence, are designated as 2 points and will remain on your record for up to 10 years from the violation date. Most other offenses are designated as 1 point and will remain on your record for 3 years from the violation date. Any "at fault" accident is normally counted as 1 point.
You will be considered a negligent operator if your driving record shows any of the following point count totals:
- 4 points in 12 months, or
- 6 points in 24 months, or
- 8 points in 36 months
At the Law Office of Matthew J. Ruff we recognize that you may have a critical need to drive and can request a hearing for you and represent you at the DMV. Recently, we were successful in saving a client's license even though he had more than 5 points in 12 months. Call us now to discuss your specific case. In yet another case a client was on probation already and again got too many tickets. We were able to get him back on probation and avoid a 1 year suspension.
Suspensions for Medical Reasons
The DMV may restrict, suspend or revoke the driver license of a driver for a medical reason such as: a serious memory disorder, diabetes mellitus or lapses of consciousness. If this happens, you must request a hearing immediately. Matthew J. Ruff is quite successful at returning our client's driver license. We recognize your need to drive and can help you. We will request a hearing for you and represent you at the DMV.
Physicians are required to report certain physical and mental conditions, the Health and Safety Code requires physicians and surgeons to report in writing to the local health officer, the name, birth date, and address of every patient at least 14 years of age or older who is diagnosed as having a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness or dementia (mental disorders) or other conditions such as Alzheimer's.
Although not required by law, any other condition may be reported by physicians when they believe a patient cannot drive safely because of a medical condition.
If a doctor has notified the DMV of your medical condition, you may be required to have a hearing and submit a Driver Medical Evaluation (DME) form. This form is requested when medical information is needed to evaluate a driver's medical condition in relationship to safe driving. Primarily used by DMV Driver Safety, this five-page document assists hearing officers to evaluate the physical and/or mental condition(s) of the driver and to determine what action, if any, to take with regard to the driving privilege.
The first page of the Driver Medical Evaluation (DME) form requires the driver to complete a brief health history and to certify under penalty of perjury that the information is true and complete. The remainder of the form requires the driver's physician to provide information on the driver's diagnosis, treatment, and level of functional impairment, if any. Specific sections address lapses of consciousness, diabetes, Alzheimers, dementia and cognitive impairments, as they pose a higher degree of potential traffic safety risk.
The DME must be signed by you and your physician, prior to being evaluated by Driver Safety. The form is available through our firm. Our knowledge of these hearings has resulted in success for our clients in keeping their licenses.
Senior Driver License Actions
When you reach age 70, DMV requires that renewals be in person rather than by mail. You may be asked to take a written test to ensure that you are up-to-date on any new laws that have been passed.
If you get a ticket, and the officer issuing the ticket feels that you may have shown either a lack of skill or lack of knowledge, he or she may also issue a Request For Re-Examination.
If you have a medical condition that may affect your driving, a doctor may file a medical report with the DMV.
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Epilepsy, including "breakthrough seizures" in cases that were formerly under control.Alzheimer's Disease
- Muscular degeneration
- Muscular dystrophy
If you fail the written test several times, or if you are issued a Request For Re-Examination, or a doctor files a report on a medical condition, the DMV Driver Safety unit may contact you.
They may send you a medical questionnaire. They may also schedule a hearing, by phone or in their office, within a month. You are responsible for providing any information they request. Based on that hearing, they can suspend a license until a medical condition clears up, or issue a temporary license for purposes of instruction. They can also require a written test, or a drive test, or both. They can also revoke a license permanently.
If the hearing goes against you, you have rights of appeal, both at the local office, and in Sacramento. This is explained in our booklet, "Getting Your License, Keeping Your License.
If the hearing goes against you, you have rights of appeal, both at the local office, and in Sacramento. A DMV Lawyer is advisable in these cases.
Attorney Matthew Ruff is experienced with DMV hearings and ensuring the client's rights are protected. Even if your license has been revoked for Lack of Skill a Lawyer can help get it back. Call us toll free at 1-877-213-4453 for immediate help.
In the beginning of this year, Matthew was able to save the license of more clients than in any other previous year. For example, in one case he obtained a set aside of a commercial license that was in threat of being suspended following a APS hearing involving driving with a .10 % BAC. Feel free to call the office to discuss your DMV action or visit Matthew Ruff on his social media page hosted by Google Plus.