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Court Rules DMV’S Hearing Procedure Unconstitutional

     For many years the California DMV has used a single hearing officer to play the role of both prosecutor and judge in its administrative hearings regarding license suspension actions. Moreover, rulings by hearing officers to “set aside” suspension orders were sometimes reversed by Driver Safety Office managers who simply didn’t agree with the ruling even though they did not participate in the hearing.
     California’s Second District Court of Appeal, Division 4, has ruled this administrative hearing procedure unconstitutionally denies licensees due process of law. In California DUI Lawyers Association v. California Department of Motor Vehicles (April 15, 2022 – Docket B305604), the Court has ordered that management may no longer overrule hearing officer rulings and that hearing officers may not advocate on behalf of the DMV’s interests while simultaneously playing fact-finding and decision making roles.
     The DMV will have to promptly obtain a “stay” on these orders or implement a new system that complies with the Court’s injunctions. The DMV is not precluded from using a single hearing officer to both present the DMV’s evidence and to also be the judge, but the decision maker must remain neutral and not be an advocate for the DMV’s interests.
     If you have questions about this ruling or otherwise wish to consult with Bay Area attorney Paul Burglin, you may contact him through his website at  Paul Burglin co-authors the two volume treatise, California Drunk Driving Law (James Publishing).  He is Dean Emeritus of the National College of DUI Defense and Board-Certified in DUI Defense (ABA approved).  

About 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.

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