California DMV's Power to Revoke Licenses for DUI in Spotlight

When a person is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in California, the Department of Motor Vehicles can immediately suspend his license if the person was arrested with a blood alcohol content above the legal .08%. In fact, the DMV can go ahead and suspend your license even if a judge overturns your DUI case for lack of evidence.

Now, these powers of the California Department Of Motor Vehicles are under attack. The California DUI Lawyers Association has filed legal action, alleging that arbitrary actions by DMV employees who act as prosecutor and judge, constitute a violation of citizens’ constitutional rights. According to the lawsuit, DMV employees very often suspend or revoke licenses, with very little evidence except the arresting officer’s report. Often, these employees fail to make fair decisions, under pressure by the Department Of Motor Vehicles.

Analysis of data from the California Department of DMV from 2012, found that employees either suspended or revoked the licenses in at least 135 cases where people were arrested for DUI. In all of these cases, persons were either never charged with any crimes, or had their criminal cases dismissed for lack of evidence. The only time that the DMV set aside legal action was when the case went to trial, and the person was acquitted of DUI-related charges.

Critics including Los Angeles DUI lawyers have long claimed that the system is designed to be unfair to motorists, who are arrested for DUI. The Department of Motor Vehicles has not conducted an analysis on the number of such persons, who lost their licenses or had their licenses suspended or revoked, in spite of not having been convicted of any DUI-related crime.