Currently, the California Department of Motor Vehicles holds administrative hearings to determine if an individual’s driving privilege should be suspended following an arrest for driving under the influence. These proceedings have been taking place for years in California. At the hearings, the Department of Motor Vehicles appoints an employee who acts as both the prosecutor and judge.
Just last week the Second Appellate District Court of Appeal for the State of California issued a decision in California DUI Lawyers Association v. the California Department of Motor Vehicles (2022) Cal.App.Lexis 316, which impacts all pending administrative hearings conducted in California following an arrest for driving under the influence. In essence, the CDLA court found that the current process used by the DMV at APS hearings violates a driver’s due process rights by the use of a DMV employee to act as an advocate for the DMV and the judge in the proceedings.
Citing California law, the CDLA court explained that although procedural fairness does not prohibit the combination of the advocacy and adjudicatory functions within a single administrative agency, tasking the same individual with both roles violates the minimum constitutional standards of due process. The court further held that Vehicle Code section 14112 subdivision (b) that exempts APS hearings from the separation of functions requirement outlined in Government Code section 11425.30 is unconstitutional to the extent it allows the DMV to combine the advocacy and adjudicatory roles in a single APS hearing officer.
The CDLA court entered a permanent injunction that states the DMV is permanently enjoined and restrained from having its APS hearing officers function as advocates for the position of the DMV in addition to being finders of fact in the same adversarial proceeding.
What does this mean for California drivers? Well for now it means that the DMV can no longer use a single employee to conduct the APS hearings. Today our office has been contacted by the DMV on multiple pending cases requesting to continue the hearings. How the issue will ultimately be decided is unclear. What is certain is that the DMV will appeal the decision of the court. Once we have more information, we will post an update.
If you have any questions about how this impacts your pending case or license suspension, call us at (559) 222-5800.