Time is of the essence
If you have been arrested for DUI, the arresting officer likely confiscated your driver's license. You were provided with a DMV form called a DS-367. This form is three pages long and is loaded with fine print. On the third page, one piece of information people frequently miss is the notice that you only have 10 days to request an administrative hearing with the DMV regarding your license suspension. If you, or your attorney, fail to request this hearing within 10 days, the suspension becomes automatic and cannot be challenged.
For most people, having a suspended license in Alameda County makes day-to-day life extremely difficult. Even for a first time DUI, there will be at least 30 days of actual suspension before you become eligible to obtain a restricted license. That is why, in nearly all cases, you should request a DMV hearing. Contact our office and we can contact the DMV for you.
We will dig into your case, to show the DMV that a suspension is unwarranted. We obtain calibration and service records for the machines used to analyze your breath or blood. These machines are not infallible, especially when they have not been properly maintained and tested. We obtain records on the training and experience of the people who performed the tests, drew blood, analyzed blood, etc. Without proper training, the test results are unreliable. With blood samples, we can also obtain a court order to have the blood retested by an independent lab.
What is a Helmandollar Plea?
A Helmandollar plea is a way to force the DMV to either not suspend your license or to set aside a suspension that has already occurred. The peculiar name comes from the case Helmandollar v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1992) 7 Cal.App.4th 52, which made this type of plea agreement legal. This is how a Helmandollar plea works:
First, the defense attorney and the prosecution agree to settle the case for a wet reckless. Then in court, the client enters a plea of no contest to the wet reckless charge. Normally at this point, the DUI charges (i.e., the "(a) count" and the "(b) count") are dismissed.
However, with a Helmandollar plea, the judge then holds a bench trial on the (b) count. A bench trial is a trial without a jury where the judge hears the evidence and renders a verdict. The prosecutor agrees to not put on any evidence to support the (b) count. Without any evidence before the court, the judge must find the defendant Not Guilty of the charge.
An acquittal is then entered onto the record. This is significant because, if the DMV suspends a person's license for DUI, and that person obtains an acquittal in court, the DMV must set aside the suspension. This only works if there is an acquittal of VC 23152(b). A dismissal of the charge is meaningless to the DMV. The other reason why this works is a wet reckless conviction (VC 23103(a)/23103.5) does not trigger license suspension.
As you can see, the process is somewhat convoluted. Not all cases are realistic candidates for a Helmandollar plea. Not only will the prosecutor need to be persuaded to reduce the charge to a wet reckless, but he must also be convinced that there is good reason to agree to Helmandollar plea. Then the judge must also agree to do this plea. Some judges will simply not accommodate this request, even in the prosecution is on board.
Though Helmandollar pleas are generally rare, they not unheard of in the cases we handle. For more information, please contact our office for a consultation at our Oakland office.