Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Got a DUI But Live in Another County, Can I Have The Case Moved?

Under California DUI Laws, a person who is arrested in one county but lives in another can ask for what is called a change of venue.  This principle applies in reality only to the DMV hearing but can also be requested for the criminal case, but with little chance of success.  The request for a change of venue is rooted in the California Vehicle code and permits an out of county driver to have a DMV hearing held in the county in which they reside.  There are limitations to the request and the DMV has the right to object to the move if it presents an undue hardship on their case, such as if there are witnesses needed to testify at the hearing that live where the incident ocurred.

What are the benefits to requesting a change of venue for the administrative hearing in a DUI case?  First, it is likely going to be much more convenient for the licensee to travel and appear at the hearing if necessary.  Second, in many cases moving the hearing to a distant field office has the advantage of taking the "home town" advantage away from the arresting officer.  Let me explain:  If you are arrested in a locale where the arresting officer does many hearings, the hearing officer will know the cop and may feel less inclined to rule against him or her on a close case due to the fact that they will likely see each other again.  So, the reason is one based in human nature.  If the hearing officer does not know the cop, he or she will presumably be more objective, fair and unbiased.  Now, this must be tempered with the prospect that by moving the hearing to a new county you may get a hearing officer that is worse than the one set to hear the matter in the county of arrest.  This can be dealt with by the attorney and make the call as appropriate and should be balanced against all other factors.

One other advantage to requesting a change of venue is that the hearing will usually be delayed due to the process of having the case file transferred form one county to another.  This is always a good thing, a delay in any case nearly always benefits the licensee and allows more time to prepare, plan and strategize the hearing in relation to the criminal case.

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