How to Use the DOL Hearing to Prepare for a DUI Criminal Case
After a person gets arrested for a DUI they confront two legal actions. The first is usually with the Court system and that is where they will answer for the DUI criminal offense. The second is with the Department of Licensing which is where a determination will be made whether to suspend the drivers license of the accused.
Although these two legal actions are completely separate and should be treated as such, the DOL hearing can be used to help prepare for the criminal case, and in some circumstances to the advantage of the Defense. In my opinion there are three ways this can be achieved.
Free deposition of the arresting officer: Often times in a DOL hearing, I will issue a subpoena for the arresting officer. The reason this is done is so I can conduct an interview with the arresting officer where they are under oath, they are being recorded, and the Prosecution is not present to interfere. This is meaningful because in other types of criminal situations often times the arresting officer will not agree to be recorded, or they want the Prosecutor present during any interviews. DOL hearings for DUI situations are the exception where the Defense can basically have a deposition of the arresting officer. Because they are under oath and being recorded any statements can be used impeach them in the criminal trial.
Litigate legal arguments with DOL first: At the DOL hearing pretty much the same legal arguments regarding probable cause, the admissibility of the breath or blood tests, and many others are the same that would be litigated in the criminal case. Because the DOL hearing usually happens before a jury trial in the DUI case it’s a good idea to make these arguments and see what gets the most traction, or see what the reasoning is why they got denied and then reframe them in the criminal case.
Using the ruling from DOL as a negotiation tool: As before stated many of the same arguments litigated at the DOL hearing are the same litigated in a DUI case. So if a motion is granted at the DOL level, that can be used as a negotiation tool with the Prosecutor. You can say, “hey we argued this motion at the DOL hearing, they ruled in our favor because of X, Y, Z. DOL uses the same legal standard that a estimate would in a pretrial motion consequently offer us this deal or there is a good chance we will prevail.”
If these three methods are employed this will not only consequence in better success in the criminal case, but less work if the case goes to trial because all the heavy lifting was done for the DOL hearing.