Saturday, May 25, 2024

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Dealing With the Impossible California DMV

Today I want to give you an example of just how frustrating and difficult it can be to deal with the California State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and why you really want to have a Board Certified DUI defense attorney representing you on drunk driving case.

Motorists who are cited and prosecuted for driving under the influence of alcohol in California face consequences with both the California DMV and the Court system. The DMV takes an administrative action to suspend the individual’s driving privilege, while the District Attorney files criminal charges seeking a DUI conviction and punishment in the form of incarceration, fines, and additional sanctions.

To keep track of one’s prior driving record, the DMV records the dates of any violation, administrative license suspension, and criminal conviction.  If a license suspension and criminal conviction arise out of the same incident, then the recorded violation (or offense) date should be identical. This is not normally a problem, but sometimes the driving occurs just before midnight but the arrest takes place after midnight.  In this circumstance, we have an offense committed on one day, and an arrest occurring the following day.

When it comes to charging one accused of a crime, the prosecutor uses the violation date. Yet for some reason known only to it, the DMV uses the arrest date rather than the violation date.  In this circumstance, the individual’s driving record will show two separate incidents, and the California DMV Mandatory Actions Unit will treat the offender like he or she committed two separate offenses.

So here is how this anomaly plays out. Joe Smith is observed driving on May 1, 2012, and is pulled over just before midnight. A DUI investigation ensues with questioning and field sobriety exercises administered on the side of the road, and Mr. Smith is arrested at 12:30 in the morning on May 2, 2012. A subsequent conviction in Court shows a violation date of May 1, 2012, but the DMV’s administrative license suspension shows a violation date of May 2, 2012. So when Mr. Smith tries to get his driving privilege reinstated on the date of statutory eligibility, the DMV looks at its own record and denies him or her the reinstatement because it concludes he or she has two separate incidents!

The kicker is that the California DMV is fully aware that it is misreading the driver’s record and imposing requirements upon him or her that should not be imposed. It does not care, which is why you need legal counsel knowledgeable on the law and its proper application. This is just one example of how going it alone, or going with a lawyer who does not specialize in DUI defense can be hazardous.

If you need to consult with a DUI defense attorney in California, call Board Certified DUI defense attorney Paul Burglin at (415) 453-0534, or visit his website at

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Paul Burglin

Paul Burglin

Paul Burglin practices DUI defense in the San Francisco Bay Area including the Napa/Sonoma wine country. He has been specializing in DUI defense for more 35 years After graduating from U.C. Berkeley in 1980, Mr. Burglin received his law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law in Washington. He is Board Certified in DUI Defense (as approved by the American Bar Association) and co-authors the two-volume treatise, "California Drunk Driving Law." He is past Dean of the National College of DUI Defense ( and is Editor-in-Chief of its case law update and newsletter. He is one of only a select few of DUI defense attorneys in the United States to have attended the University of Indiana’s Borkenstein Course on chemical testing and scientific protocols offered to prosecution experts, and he is a certified graduate of that program. He has been selected to the 2021 Northern California Super Lawyers list and is A-V rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

One Response

  1. California requires proof of SS nubemr when first applying for a CA drivers license or ID card. If your card is lost, you can get proof by going to a local Social Security Office and get a printout with your SSN and your name, they’ll stamp it with a SSA rubber stamp, and the DMV will accept it. (former Rock Hill, SC resident now living in Sacramento). Oh, and drop the Cali thing. I know SC people say Cali but no one in California uses that. It’s Cal when you live in the state, not Cali.References :

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