[CDL-Member] CDLA v. DMV CoA Opinion
California DUI Lawyers Association vs. California Department of Motor Vehicles
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for conducting hearings to determine whether an automatic suspension of a driver’s license is acceptable. This follows the arrest of an individual for driving under the influence. This process allows DMV hearing officers to act as both advocates and triers of fact in each instance of suspending a driver’s license after driving under the influence. The DMV also gives its managers the authority to override any decision made by the DMV hearing officers, without requiring notice to the driver.
As a result of these practices, the California DUI Lawyers Association (CDLA), is suing the DMV for:
- Violating 42 United States Code section 1983 affecting due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
- Violating due process rights under article 1, section 7 of the California Constitution
- “Illegal Expenditure of Funds” under the Code of Civil Procedure section 526a
1st CDLA Claim
The California DUI Lawyer’s Association initially filed claim against the DMV alleging that the APS hearing system, in place within the DMV, is unfair and unconstitutional. The CDLA’s claim here is that a driver’s license is a vital property right that they cannot suspend without due process. Specifically, the CDLA filed claim on the grounds that in “the DMV written materials, the hearing officer at each APS hearing acts as an investigator, advocate for DMV, and fact finder”. CDLA’s complaint goes on to reference the California Administrative Procedure Act. Stating that an individual cannot serve as a presiding officer in a adjudicative proceeding where that same person has served as an investigator, prosecutor, or advocate in the proceeding. This initial claim resulted in the trial court directing both parties to file new motions. These new motions were directed to incorporate all prior finds as well as any supplemental briefs.
2nd CDLA Claim
In filing a new motion, the CDLA claimed that “a driver’s license cannot be suspended without due process of law, and the combination of advocate and adjudication roles in a single, subordinate DMV employee violates required due process protections” (CDLA2 Opinion, Pg. 7).
After considering both the CDLA’s and the DMV’s claims and evidence, the trial court ultimately granted summary adjudication in favor of the DMV. This was granted on CDLA’s section 1983 cause of action, that the DMV argued to fail as a matter of law as it could not be brought against a state entity. The trial court also ruled in favor of the CDLA’s cause of action for the DMV’s violation of due process rights.
The judgement here, reached by the trial court, “permanently enjoined the DMV from “maintaining or implementing a structure for Administrative Per Se hearings on the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license that allows ex parte communications or command control by DMV Driver Safety Branch managers over Driver Safety Hearing Officers’ decisions, including set asides or suspensions, before decisions are issued.”” (CDLA2 Opinion, Pg. 9).
The trial court in the California DUI Lawyer’s Association vs the Department of Motor Vehicles case, is being asked to vacate the initial order. This initial order was denying both the CDLA’s and the DMV ‘s motions for summary judgement. In turn, the trial court is being asked to grant summary judgement in favor of the CDLA.
The overall court judgement is being asked to be modified as follows:
- Judgment ruled in favor of CDLA and against the DMV on the first cause of action which was violating 42 United States Code section 1983 affecting due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
- The Judgment be ruled in favor of the CDLA and against the DMV and their director on the second cause of action which was violating due process rights under article 1, section 7 of the California Constitution
- Judgment also be ruled in favor of the CDLA and against the DMV and their director on the third cause of action which was “Illegal Expenditure of Funds” under the Code of Civil Procedure section 526a
Lastly, the judgment is being motioned to rule that the DMV be permanently restrained from allowing its APS hearing officers function as both advocates for the position as well as finders of fact in the same proceeding.
Stay Informed – CDLA v. DMV
While this ongoing legal battle with the California Department of Motor Vehicles continues, look to the California DUI Lawyer’s Association for any updates on the latest appeal outlined above.
Rick Mueller, San Diego DUI Specialist and member of the California DUI Lawyers Association (CDLA), has the experience and proven track record to help in a situation involving a DUI in San Diego County in the meantime.
[CDL-Member] CDLA v. DMV CoA Opinion