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Former DMV Officer Took Bribes on San Diego DUI cases

License Suspensions is one of the worst punishments that come with a San Diego DUI.  If your license gets suspended after the APS hearing there will be some period of time before somone can drive again. The driver will not be able to drive….with no exceptions. To get back driving you have to be enrolled in a DUI course and have other items to the DMV.  The APS hearing is separate from the courthouse dates that someone will also have to deal with.

The APS hearing is one of the most understood parts in San Diego DUI cases. A great many of the people who get San Diego DUI go with the Public Defender. The APS hearing is administrative so someone is not entitled to a Public Defender.  So….these people either do not set the APS hearing to begin with or fend with the DMV and the APS hearing on their own.  San Diego APS hearings are tough for attorneys I cannot imagine a regular person doing it.

I know some of my clients would pay small fortunes to avoid the San Diego APS suspension. It is crazy to hear this happened because the San Diego APS office seems to be a place of all business to me.  I wonder in the story below whether the attorneys got in trouble as well.  San Diego DUI brings so many consequences that it can bring out all means to avoid them. Read the story below.


A former San Diego Department of Motor Vehicles official pleaded guilty Tuesday to accepting bribes, including money, gift certificates and designer handbags, in exchange for helping people accused of DUIs, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Alva Benavidez, 51, a former officer of the California Driver Safety Office at the DMV, admitted to accepting more than $5,000 in cash and gifts from attorneys and their firms in her plea agreement, said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

At the DMV, Benavidez worked as a driver safety oofficer (DSO), where she presided over hearings to decide whether a person charged with driving under the influence should have their license suspended.

Benavidez admitted to giving favorable treatment to six different attorneys and six of their staff between 2005 and August 2014. In exchange for helping those clients, she was given checks and cash ranging from $250 to $750, as well as two Juicy Couture purses, Ray-Ban sunglasses and a Cheesecake Factory gift certificate.

In her plea agreement, Benavidez admitted to stealing arrest packets from the DSO before that information could be put into the database. She also set aside driver license suspensions and provided unauthorized temporary driver licenses for people who had previously been arrested for DUIs.

“Obviously, today’s guilty plea exposes a troubling breakdown in the enforcement of our DUI laws. The investigation into corruption involving the DMV is continuing, and we will pursue the facts wherever they lead,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Kanter.

Benavidez has been released on bond until her sentencing. She will be sentenced at 9 a.m. on April 20.

The full article can be found here.

Here is some information on the DMVs part in a San Diego DUI case.

I’ve just been arrested for a San Diego DUI. What happens now?

The officer is required by law to immediately forward a copy of the completed notice of suspension or revocation form and any driver license taken into possession, with a sworn report to the DMV. The DMV automatically conducts an administrative review that includes an examination of the officer’s report, the suspension or revocation order, and any test results. If the suspension or revocation is upheld during the administrative review, you may request a hearing to contest the suspension or revocation.
You have the right to request a hearing from the DMV within 10 days of receipt of the suspension or revocation order. If the review shows there is no basis for the suspension or revocation, the action will be set aside. You will be notified by the DMV in writing only if the suspension or revocation is set aside following the administrative review.
At the time of my arrest, the officer confiscated my driver license. How do I get it back?
Your driver license will be returned to you at the end of the suspension or revocation, provided you pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV and you file proof of financial responsibility. The reissue fee remains at $100 if you were under age 21 and were suspended under the Zero Tolerance Law pursuant to Vehicle Code §§23136, 13353.1, 13388, 13392. If it is determined that there is not a basis for the suspension or revocation, your driver license will be issued or returned to you.
The officer issued me an Order of Suspension and Temporary License. What am I supposed to do with this document?
You may drive for 30 days from the date the order of suspension or revocation was issued, provided you have been issued a California driver license and your driver license is not expired, or your driving privilege is not suspended or revoked for some other reason.
The Notice of Suspension that the officer gave me at the time of my arrest states I have ten days to request an administrative hearing. What is the purpose of this hearing and what can it do for me?
A hearing is your opportunity to show that the suspension or revocation is not justified.
For how long will my driving privilege be suspended if I took the chemical test?
If you are 21 years of age or older, took a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test, and the results showed 0.08% BAC or more:

  • A first offense will result in a 4-month suspension.
  • A second or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 1-year suspension.

If you are under 21 year of age, took a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test and results showed 0.01% BAC or more, your driving privilege will be suspended for 1 year.
Do I need a hearing to get a restricted license to go to and from work?
No. A request for a restricted license cannot be considered at the DMV hearing. You may apply for a restricted license to drive to and from work at any DMV field office.
The officer stated I refused to take a chemical test. What does this mean?
You are required by law to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol and/or drug content of your blood. You did not submit to or complete a blood or breath test after being requested to do so by a peace officer. As of January 1999, a urine test is no longer available unless:

  • The officer suspects you were driving under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, or
  • Both the blood or breath tests are not available, or
  • You are a hemophiliac, or
  • You are taking anticoagulant medication in conjunction with a heart condition.

How long will my driving privilege be suspended for not taking the chemical test?
If you were 21 years or older at the time of arrest and you refused or failed to complete a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test:

  • A first offense will result in a 1-year suspension.
  • A second offense within 10 years will result in a 2-year revocation.
  • A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 3-year revocation.

If you were under 21 years of age at the time of being detained or arrested and you refused or failed to complete a PAS test or other chemical test:

  • A first offense will result in a 1-year suspension.
  • A second offense within 10 years will result in a 2-year revocation.
  • A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 3-year revocation.

How is the DMV suspension or revocation for the DUI arrest different from the suspension or revocation following my conviction in criminal court?
The DMV suspension or revocation is an immediate administrative action taken against your driving privilege only. This is called Administrative Per Se (APS). Any sanctions imposed by DMV under APS are independent of any court-imposed jail sentence, fine, or other criminal penalty imposed when a person is convicted for driving under the influence (DUI).
The suspension or revocation following a conviction in court is a mandatory action for which jail, fine, or other criminal penalty can be imposed.
Hire a Proactive, affordable, and quality defense when you are facing San Diego DUI charges. Whether you have been charged of a San Diego Expungement, San Diego Bench Warrant, San Diego Failure to Appear, San Diego Restraining Orders, San Diego Terminate Probation, San Diego Minor Possession of Alcohol, San Diego Probation Violation, San Diego Prop 47, Lakeside DUI, Lemon Grove DUI, National City DUI, Cardiff DUI, Racho Santa Fe San Diego DUI, Rancho Bernardo DUI, Spring Valley DUI, Solana Beach DUI, Leucadia DUI, Golden Hills DUI, North Park DUI, Torrey Pines DUI, Eastlake DUI, Paradise Valley DUI, San Diego DUI, Poway DUI, Chula Vista DUI, La Mesa DUI, Santee DUI, Mission Valley DUI, Clairemont DUI, Point Loma DUI, La Jolla DUI, Carmel Valley DUI, Mira Mesa DUI, Pacific Beach DUI, Del Mar DUI, Encinitas DUI, Oceanside DUI, Ocean Beach DUI, Escondido DUI, Vista DUI, San Marcos DUI, Carlsbad DUI, El Cajon DUI, it is vital you need to hire an attorney who knows how to defend your rights and can determine if the government can prove their case. Contact the Law Office of Mark Deniz now for a free case evaluation at (858) 751-4384 or send an email to [email protected].

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