WHAT HAPPENS AT A DMV HEARING
When you've been arrested and charged with DUI in California, you were likely asked to "blow" in a breathalyzer to see what your blood alcohol level is at the time. Refusing to do this, or going ahead and taking the test and failing, or refusing to go to the hospital and have a blood test done will all result in the arresting officer filling out paperwork and submitting it to have your driver's license suspended so you are unable to legally drive at all.
If/when this happens, you have a very limited amount of time to challenge the suspension and have it reversed or rescinded - in fact, in California it is only 10 days. If for any reason you miss this window, you will just be out of luck with no reprieve whatsoever. This can be quite the hassle for most individuals who still need to get to work and go about their daily lives.
The number one thing you need to do when you are arrested is to get a great criminal defense attorney - preferably one who is well-versed with DUIs and who has built a reputation in the court system for getting the job done for their clients. And the reason for this is that there are any number of ways that a DUI case can go sideways for the prosecution - especially when you are going up before the DMV Admin for the suspension hearing - and there's a great chance you won't know what to look or listen for in order to take advantage of those "opportunities". When the case has a glitch - say for example the breathalyzer machine was overdue for a calibration - the arresting office, and probably the District Attorney are hoping you don't "lawyer up" and that you try to represent yourself.
Even though the DMV hearing on your suspended license is more or less informal, there are still rules and protocols to follow. If you don't know these, you can either walk into a hornet's nest on accident that you can't easily get out of, or you could really miss opportunities to help your case by not being aware. The arresting officer must be present at this hearing, and that is really important because there are multiple opportunities to challenge the details around the arrest itself that, again, you might not know are available to you.
A great example of this is you most likely would think to challenge the breathalyzer on its calibration. And this would be a shame, because if the calibration had not been done in a timely manner with it's last servicing, then the whole arrest goes down the tubes and their case is done - you're walking away free and clear. A criminal defense lawyer, on the other hand, would know to look at this and see if it was a model in good working order with good records - if anything is off with that machine they have reasonable doubt on the arrest. Same can hold true for other elements of the arrest as well - they would make sure of things like the arresting officer's reason for pulling you in the first place to make sure that reason was adequate and correct - if not, that's an open door they can walk through to get your case dismissed overall. They can also examine things like the officer's advice to you about taking the test and whether that advice was done properly.
You see how this is going - if there is anything that a criminal defense attorney can hang their hat on with a DUI, they're going to do so, and you could be walking away without the charge, or perhaps a much lesser problem than you had before if they can't make it go away all together. None of that is possible, however, if you try to skip getting an attorney and go before the DMV Admin yourself and then end up in court before the judge.
A trained and skillful Bay Area criminal defense attorney can take you into this suspension hearing and argue on the facts about the arrest, possibly getting the suspension reversed or rescinded, and even setting the stage for its complete dismissal. Do yourself the favor of getting an attorney.