Can the DMV Suspend my License for a DUI if No Officer Sees Me Driving?

A recurring evidentiary issue in DUI DMV suspension hearings is that of a civilian witness seeing the defendant drive and the DMV using that evidence as the basis of the action notwithstanding an absence of any police officer observations.  The seminal law in the area that deals with admitting civilian witness statements into the hearing using only the police reports is as follows.  In Santos vs. Department of Motor Vehicles (1992) 5 Cal App 4th 537, 546 for example,  the court observed: “Public employee business records, however, are admissible in civil actions only to the extent that they report the employee’s firsthand knowledge”.  In many cases the officer has no firsthand knowledge of any driving by the licensee.  The officer does not observe driving and the officer’s only knowledge is based on what he was allegedly told by a private citizen. The testimony of a witness concerning a particular matter is inadmissible unless he has personal knowledge of the matter. See Evidence Code § 702.
    According to one Hermosa Beach DUI Attorney, the sources of information in this case are not from a  public employee with a duty to observe facts correctly or report observations accurately to the police, therefore the witness statements to the officer do not come within the official records exception or any other recognized exception to the hearsay rule.  The Courts have ruled that civilian statements are inadmissible in a police report.   Further, not only would the statement regarding driving be inadmissible as lacking foundation, it also constitutes multiple hearsay in violation of Evidence Code § 1201.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty five years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV regarding license suspension hearings stemming from drunk driving arrests.
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