The Risks You Take When You Handle Your DMV Driver’s License Suspension Case On Your Own Without a San Francisco Attorney

drink and keysThere are many things that can derail your legal case. Your case may be unsuccessful because you don’t have enough factual evidence on your side. Your case could also be unsuccessful because of procedural deficiencies. One of the most preventable ways to fail is because you decide to handle your case yourself, and you make procedural errors that you could have avoided with representation from an experienced California DMV attorney. Achieving a successful result in your license suspension case, or any type of legal matter, involves more than just knowing the facts of your case and being able to present them. It involves having a familiarity with the procedural rules of your case and making sure that you follow them.

The case of one East Bay driver serves as a useful story of caution on this point. The case began when a local police officer in Antioch responded to the scene of a two-vehicle accident and identified what he believed was alcohol on the breath of one of the drivers. The officer also thought that that driver’s eyes appeared bloodshot and watery. The driver, Michael, told the officer that he’d last had alcohol more than five hours before the accident, when he’d had two drinks with vodka in them. He indicated to the officer that he’d been awake for 21 hours.

Michael underwent a blood test some 2½ hours after the accident. The test yielded a BAC of 0.08. The DMV suspended his license. After Michael elected to have an administrative hearing, the hearing officer upheld the suspension. The driver took his case to the trial court but was still unsuccessful. He appealed to the Court of Appeal, but once again the suspension was upheld. Significant parts of what plagued Michael’s case on appeal came down to procedural problems, which can be a common shortcoming when people decide to handle their own cases without legal counsel.

The Court of Appeal pointed out two major flaws in Michael’s case. One flaw related to Michael’s argument that he did not receive a proper Miranda warning and that certain statements he made should have been excluded from evidence. A central part of Michael’s Miranda argument was that he reasonably believed he was under police custody and not free to leave. To back up this argument, he offered only “his own conclusory assertion” that he believed he was in custody. He did not point to specific facts that were part of the case’s evidentiary record. He also did not point out any previous court decisions that would indicate that a reasonable person in his shoes would have believed that they were in custody. When a party who brings an appeal fails to do these things, the “argument may be deemed forfeited,” the court explained.

Additionally, Michael made an argument that the evidence was insufficient for the hearing officer to conclude that the blood test was completed within less than three hours. The three-hour time limit is important because, if the authorities can complete your test within three hours of the accident, the law will consider the test result to be an accurate reflection of your blood-alcohol content at the time of the accident. The problem for Michael was that he did not make this argument until filing his reply brief in his appeals court case. Generally, arguments made for the first time in a reply brief will not even be considered by the court, unless the person raising that argument provides the court with a good reason why the judges should. Michael did not have a good reason, so the argument was waived.

Although, in this driver’s case, the appeals court concluded that Michael’s arguments would have lost on the merits, the result is still an important warning for anyone seeking to get their driving privileges back. Your driver’s license case is important enough to give yourself every advantage available to achieve success. This is not the time for “DIY” because it too easily can result in losing a case just because of a procedural failure, even when you had a valid argument on your side.

If you or a loved one is seeking to get your DUI-related driver’s license suspension reversed, the odds are against you if you go it alone. The best way to beat the odds is to retain an experienced DMV attorney. The skilled San Francisco DMV professionals at Uthman Law Office have been providing reliable service to our driver’s license suspension, DUI defense, and other clients for many years. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. Put our experience to work for you in your DMV case. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation to get the help you need.

Photo Credit: stevepb, [CC0 License], via Pixabay