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DUI Arrest and the California Department of Motor Vehicles

When a person is arrested for DUI, 2 things are going on:

  1. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) wants to suspend the driver’s license; and
  2. The court wants to punish the driver.

It is very confusing, but in this blog, we are focusing only on the DMV.

The DS 367

In California, when a person is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), the police officer is supposed to confiscate their driver’s license and hand them a pink DMV paper that informs them of their rights.

The pink document, called a DS 367, advises the person that they have only 10 calendar days from the date of the arrest to contact the DMV and request a DMV hearing. If they do not, they will forfeit the opportunity to contest the suspension of their driver’s license.

If a hearing is timely requested, the DMV will “stay” (postpone) driver’s license suspension, pending the outcome of the proceeding. A good defense presented at a DMV hearing could result in the DMV making no suspension of the driver’s license and providing the driver (or attorney) with an order to have the license returned, no strings attached.

However, the DS 367 states, “You have 10 days from the receipt of this notice to request a hearing to show that the suspension or revocation is not justified.”

A person would think when calling the number on the DS 367, (916) 654-0214, the DMV would merely ask for the necessary information to schedule a DMV hearing.

The required information would include:

  • Name;
  • Phone number;
  • Address;
  • Date of arrest;
  • Arresting agency;
  • Officer name and/or badge number;
  • Type of test administered (blood or breath);
  • Driver’s license number;
  • Driver’s license class;
  • Age/date of birth; and
  • The driver’s license issuing state

Even better: The DMV could merely post a form on its website with the necessary information to be completed and submitted online or faxed (and a fax receipt retained for your records too).

The DMV could either make the call-in process easier or develop an efficient online request method, but it does not. Instead, it has a frustrating and confusing way of having people schedule their hearings.

The reason to contact the agency is to set a date and time for a DMV hearing. The DS 367 further states: “The suspension or revocation will not be stayed (delayed) unless you request a hearing within 10 days from the issue date.”

Upon arrest for DUI, many people are given the DS 367 but do not know, and are usually not told by police, that they must notify the DMV within 10 calendar days or they give up their right to contest the suspension of their driver’s license. In our experience, the majority of people who call our office either have not read the DS 367 or do not appreciate the value of requesting a DMV hearing.

Even if people have read the DS 367, the telephone number is difficult to find, and it still takes enormous patience, know-how, and even luck to successfully request a DMV hearing by phone.

Attempting to Schedule a DMV Hearing

Generally, we request DMV hearings in writing, as making said requests by phone is the least preferred option. However, we called (916) 654-0214 (the number on our client’s DS 367), and we experienced the following:

  • First, a recording played. We pressed 1 for English.
  • Then, the recording ran for 4 minutes, giving general information.
  • After approximately 4 ½ minutes, we received the following prompts:
  • “If you were 21 or older, and were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, press 1”;
  • “If you had a commercial class A, B, or C driver’s license, and were 21 or older when you were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, press 2”;
  • “If you were under 21 years of age when you were stopped by an officer and requested to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test, press 3”;
  • “If you are calling to schedule a driver safety hearing, press 4.”

However, as others would likely do, after hearing 1, 2, and part of 3, we pushed 1. We did not hear option 4 the first time through this process.

After pressing 1, the recording gave another 6 minutes of general information. It repeated much of the same that was given during the previous 4-minute information period, and basically re-stated the entire DS 367 word for word.

After approximately 10 minutes, the recording prompts the caller to go back to the first menu by pressing pound (*). This is the only option.

The caller then waits through the same 4 minutes of information heard previously, essentially twice now, only to get back to the following prompt: “If you were 21 or older, and were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, press 1.” Hopefully, people do not press 1 again at this point.

Given the language of the recording, the DMV should expect that many, like us, would never hear option 4, or they would hear it only after spending 15+ minutes on the phone. The message does not say, “To hear information about a DUI involving a person 21 years or older, press 1. It says, “If you were 21 or older, and were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, press 1.”

At no earlier point in the recording does it mention “Listen to all the options” or “An option to request a DMV hearing will be reachable from this menu.”

We did not expect after hearing the first two, and most of the third, options that any further selections would pertain. This system is not user-friendly.

Many of our clients have told us they timely called this number but were unable to obtain a DMV hearing.

DMV Representatives Are Not Properly Trained for DUI Arrests

Some people go physically to their local DMV office to request hearings and are similarly unsuccessful in obtaining them.

We have heard from clients that the DMV will tell people:

  • “You should wait until you hear from the court,” or
  • “We do not have the police reports yet, contact us in a few days,” or
  • “You do not need to request a DMV hearing because you are eligible to reinstate your license immediately.”

If a person can prove they called or went to the DMV within 10 days, many times we can get the DMV to grant a stay of suspension and DMV hearing.

Speak with Our Team at the Law Office of Ivan O.B. Morse for Legal Assistance

The DMV and criminal processes are very confusing. As stated earlier, there are two matters going on, and each is important. If you wish to request a DMV hearing, contact a criminal defense lawyer right away.

In our opinion, every person arrested for DUI should make a timely hearing request. If you did not contact the DMV within 10 calendar days or did not schedule a hearing because the DMV gave you misinformation, it is not too late to request one. Our clients have provided evidence of timely contact made to the DMV. Sometimes a late request results in a hearing still being given.

Contact our attorneys Ivan O.B. Morse and Ryan L. Smith as soon as possible. Do not fail to request a DMV hearing (preferably by fax) within 10 calendar days from the date of the arrest.

To schedule a free consultation, call us at (888) 865-0741 or contact us online.