How to Request a DMV Hearing After a DUI Arrest in California

3/12/20 UPDATE: Due to COVID-19, all DMV hearings will be done over the telephone. People who prefer in-person hearings may request them, but they will be delayed indefinitely.

A person must contact the DMV within 10 days after a DUI arrest to request a stay and a hearing. The driver can make this request by either calling or faxing a DMV Driver Safety Office. If the person is represented by a DUI defense attorney, the attorney generally handles this on behalf of the client. 

“A stay” refers to a stay of the license suspension. This allows the person to keep driving on a temporary license if the DMV does not conduct a hearing within 30 days from the date of the arrest.

A DMV hearing after a DUI is an administrative procedure where:

Note that following a DUI:

  • the arresting officer seizes the person's driver's license, and
  • the DMV can suspend the license.

The length of the suspension will be:

Our DMV hearing attorneys will discuss the following in this article:

dmv hearing for dui
A person must contact the DMV within 10 days after a DUI arrest to request “a stay” and a hearing.

1. What should a person request following a California DUI?

A driver arrested in California for DUI must contact the DMV and request:

  • a stay, and
  • a DMV hearing.

The driver must do this within 10 days of his/her arrest.

2. How does a person make this request?

A driver can make this request to the DMV via either:

  • the phone, or
  • a fax.1

A driver makes this request to a Driver Safety Office (located in the county where the arrest was made). This is not the same as a local neighborhood DMV office.

2.1. Phone request

A phone request simply means:

  1. the person arrested calls the applicable Driver Safety Office, and
  2. asks for both a stay and a hearing.

The person should also ask for “Discovery.” This is a request for the police report that documented the DUI in question.

The arrestee should have a copy of his or her ticket when the call is a made. This is because the DMV employee handling the call will ask for:

  • the date of the arrest,
  • the location of the arrest,
  • the name and ID number of the arresting officer, and
  • the type of test that was administered (e.g., blood test).

2.2. Fax request

A fax request means:

  1. the arrestee faxes the applicable Driver Safety Office, and
  2. asks for both a stay and a hearing.

When a fax is used, a driver faxes a letter that includes the following information:

  • the driver's name,
  • the person's license number,
  • the date of the arrest,
  • the location of the arrest,
  • the name of the police agency that made the arrest,
  • the name and ID number of the arresting officer,
  • the type of test that was administered, and
  • the driver's contact information.

Note that most of the above information can be found on the ticket for the arrest.

When a fax is used, the motorist will want to get a fax confirmation. This will confirm:

  1. the date and time of the fax, and
  2. the driver safety fax number that was used.
10 day rule
A driver must request a stay and a hearing within 10 days from the date of the DUI arrest.

3. What is the 10-day requirement?

A driver must request a stay and a hearing within 10 days from the date of the DUI arrest.

For example, if a person was arrested on April 5, he/she has to make the request by April 15.

The DMV is very strict about this timing requirement. If a person makes a request after the 10 days, the DMV can suspend the person's driving privileges.

4. What is “a stay?”

A stay refers to a “stay of suspension.”

Note that the police seize a person's driver's license after a DUI arrest. Once a driver requests a hearing, the DMV then issues a 30-day temporary driver license. This allows the driver to continue driving for 30 days, despite not having a license.2

The temporary license is “30 days” because a DMV goal is to:

  • hold its hearing within 30 days, and
  • do so within 30 days from the date of the arrest.

There are situations, though, when the DMV does not conduct a hearing within 30 days. When this happens, the stay request means the DMV will not terminate the 30-day license.

Rather, the DMV grants the subject driver unrestricted driving privileges. These are good until:

  • a hearing is conducted, and
  • the DMV makes a suspension decision.3

5. What is a DMV DUI hearing?

A DMV hearing is an administrative procedure where:

  • an arrestee appears before a DMV hearing officer, and
  • tries to prevent the Department from suspending his/her driving privileges.4

Note that following a DUI:

  • the arresting officer seizes the person's driver's license, and
  • the DMV can suspend the license.

All administrative hearings are conducted at a DMV office.

The hearings are held before a DMV hearing officer. This is a DMV employee and is not:

  • a judge, or
  • an attorney.

A hearing runs like a California criminal trial. The DMV and the driver have the opportunity to present evidence and prove their respective cases. Note that a driver has the right to be represented by a DUI lawyer at these hearings.5

After the evidence is presented, the hearing officer rules for or against the driver. If for, then a driver's license suspension is set aside. If against, the officer orders a period of license suspension or revocation.6

The length of a suspension will be for:

  • up to four months (if a first-time DUI conviction), or
  • up to one year (if a second or subsequent DUI conviction).

Note that the penalties issued at a hearing are:

  • separate from,
  • any penalties ordered by a criminal court.7

This means a driver can be punished twice for the same DUI.

For additional help...

california dui attorneys
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For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.


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