How to Prepare for Your DMV Hearing

Witnesses, Subpoenas, Declarations, Discovery + Timeliness!

How to Prepare for Your DMV Hearing

Interview Witnesses Early On

If your case needs a witness to testify (such as the true driver of the car or the person you were with when they said you were driving), consider interviewing them early on with a tape recorder or a third person (who could testify if they changed their mind). Even friendly witnesses can get busy and decide that taking a day off work to testify for you is not worth it. If you end up having to subpoena them, you’ll be glad you have a way to force them to stick to their story.

Issue Subpoenas Early

If you decide you do need to subpoenas (either for documents or for witnesses), do it early. Consider issuing subpoenas even for friendly witnesses who may change their minds later on.

Be Prepared to Enforce Your Subpoena

If you have a witness that disobeys your subpoena (and law enforcement frequently does), be ready to insist that the hearing officer enforces the subpoena. This will be a battle, but you have the right to do it, and tenacity here often wins the case for you.

Submit Declarations and Discovery Timely

You may submit sworn written statements known as declarations in lieu of actually bring the witness to testify, but you must send the declaration to DMV 10 days in advance with a notice that the witness will not be present unless DMV sends a Request for Cross-examination.

Review Discovery Early On

Review the discovery sent by DMV as early as possible. The sooner you develop a plan of attack, the sooner you can start putting things into motion to make that plan successful. For example, after reviewing the police report, you may decide you need to submit a declaration or subpoena a witness. There are deadlines for each of these actions, so early review minimizes the chance that you might not take action timely.

Prepare a Script

Consider putting your words down on paper before you go to the hearing. That way, even if you get nervous, you will be confident that you say what you need to say to beat DMV.

The areas of the case that lend themselves to a written script are an opening statement (recommended just so you can relax a bit before testifying or making objections or argument), objections to DMV’s evidence, questions of witnesses and closing arguments. We do not recommend you script your testimony, as it will seem rehearsed and phony.

Government Code section 11450.20 says that the subpoena process at DMV is to follow the subpoena process for general civil court cases. Thus, subpoenas must be issued at least 20 days in advance of the hearing.

Government Code section 11514 allows a motorist to submit testimony by affidavit (or declaration under CCP section 2015.5) so long as it served on DMV 10 days in advance with a notice that the witness will not appear at the hearing unless DMV serves a Request for Cross-examination.

CCP 2015.5, GC 11450.20, GC 11514

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