What to Expect at Your DMV License Suspension Hearing
Since the police and the DMV are both involved when your license is suspended, it can be confusing and difficult to understand precisely what is going on. Learn more about your DMV hearing.
Facing a DMV License Suspension Hearing
The last thing you ever thought you would have to face is a license suspension hearing. Suppose you are careless or negligent while driving and cause a dangerous situation for yourself or others. In that case, you could face severe consequences in the legal system and the potential loss of your license, either temporarily or permanently.
If you are subject to a suspension of your driver’s license, your driving privileges may be reinstated after completing the terms of the suspension. You will have to apply for a permit and sometimes show proof of insurance.
A driver’s license being revoked is different than it being suspended. If your license has been revoked, it means your privileges have been terminated and must be reinstated through the meeting of eligibility requirements set forth by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Suppose you have been arrested for driving under the influence or on a suspended license. Upon the arrest, you will receive a notice stating that you are eligible for mandatory license revocation. You have ten days to request a DMV administrative hearing to prevent it from taking effect immediately. Failure to request administrative hearings results in automatic revocation of your driving privileges. That is different from DUI penalties and charges you face at DC court.
Because DMV hearings are not criminal matters, drivers are not obligated to retain an attorney. But, if you are facing administrative suspension, especially if it’s related to a DUI arrest, you should immediately contact a reputable defense attorney like Christopher Mutimer, your DC DUI lawyer, for free consultation and legal advice.
Preparing for the DMV Hearing Questions
Once a police officer arrests you for a DWI, you should begin discussing the possible DMV hearing questions with your attorney. They can also prepare you for what happens at the DMV administrative review.
A DMV hearing is held in one of the following ways. The first way is through a telephone hearing, and the second is in person. The evidence will be reviewed and determined whether the case will be heard over the phone or in person. One way the case will be over the phone is if the police report is flawed. If there is evidence that needs to be scrutinized, an in-person hearing may be more beneficial.
You may wonder if it is worth fighting at a DMV hearing. Basically, yes – it is. Keep in mind the officers at the DMV hearing are not licensed attorneys, nor have they gone to law school. They have been trained by the DMV, and that is it. Their goal is to stop you from driving anymore if you were arrested for drunk driving. They are taught that if you are charged with DUI or having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, you will not be receiving your license back.
DUI Administrative Hearing
According to DUI implied consent laws, the DMV can suspend a driver’s license based only on an arrest. DUI conviction is not necessary. The arresting officer can be present at the hearing, and they can testify to the circumstances of your case to the DMV hearing officer, who is practically an equivalent of a judge.
If the hearing officer finds that there is enough evidence to prove that you were driving under the influence, he will suspend or revoke your driving privileges. But, your lawyer can cross-examine the testimony of any witnesses for DMV. He can also challenge the officer’s testimony, present evidence on your own behalf, as well as argue against penalties.
DMV hearings are under oath, and they are recorded. That means your lawyer may use testimonies provided at the administrative hearing when challenging other evidence during your DUI criminal case.
The Possible DMV Hearing Results
You might wonder if the DMV hearing results have any impact on criminal charges in a DUI case. The answer to this is yes and no, but it is not impacted directly.
In DC, the judge can’t issue any restriction on an individual’s driving privilege; only the DMV can do that. Although the DMV’s procedure is separate from a criminal case, the DMV hearing’s testimony can be potentially used in court.
If you win your DMV hearing, the legal system will not change your sentence. Psychologically, it makes a significant impact. If you and your attorney can win your case at the DMV, they can show the prosecutor the case could not be proven by the DMV. The court will likely agree with the argument and want to negotiate for a resolution all parties agree with.
Unfortunately, things may not go in your favor if you have refused the BAC test. Typically, DC DUI law is punitive if you refuse. Most – if not all – attorneys will tell you not to refuse the BAC test.
Some states can suspend your license for one year based on a refusal. They do not care if you live in an area that is difficult to get around without a driver’s license and car. You will not lose your license for the breath test or chemical test refusals without first going through a hearing. They must prove that you were aware you had to take the test and were advised to do so yet refused. Therefore, it is good to know what happens when you are arrested for drunk driving.
Most of the time, an attorney can argue a miscommunication and that their client was unaware they had to take the test. This is because they will often be read their Miranda Rights and then immediately asked to take a test. This could be confusing because they are asked a question right after being told to remain silent. If they say nothing, it is usually taken as a refusal. This is usually a valid argument for refusal.
What to Expect at a DMV Hearing in D.C.
With the laws surrounding administrative suspensions, the driver may request an administrative review – formal and informal – to see whether a suspension should be upheld, modified, or overruled. This is only for the suspension, not the DUI or any charges that come with it.
You may wonder what the difference is between a formal or informal hearing. When you first make a request, you can choose formal or informal. An informal hearing consists of a hearing officer who reviews all documents submitted by the offender and the arresting officer, who is not required to be present. No more evidence or testimony will become part of the case. Once everything is reviewed, the offender will find out the verdict less than 30 days after the temporary license expiration.
The formal hearing includes an officer, but the DMV may present evidence and testimony on their behalf. You can have the assistance of an attorney who can challenge your suspension, including the legality of it. The driver risks forgoing a trial if they are not present. In the event this happens, you will have an automatic license suspension. If the arresting officer or person who gave you a breathalyzer test is not there, the case will be deemed invalid and not appear on your record.
License Suspension Hearing Defense Strategies
Before your license suspension hearing, your legal advisor will explain some of the factors that might make your suspension invalid. They will use the relevant ones to plan your defense strategy.
- A legally invalid stop.
- Blood tests or breathalyzers that are invalid.
- Consent warning failure on the part of the officer.
- Lack of evidence the driver was under 21.
- Not enough evidence to suggest the person was driving.
- The officer had no probable cause.
- The BAC test was under 0.08%.
- The driver never failed the test.
- The DUI packet was not given to the DMV for review before the hearing.
Even if the driver has an unsuccessful formal hearing, it could help argue against a DUI. It means witnesses can be questioned under oath, and evidence can begin to be gathered before the trial. Sometimes, it is imperative to request a formal hearing. This is true if you have a prior conviction or one of your BAC tests was over 0.08%. This might mean your suspension is invalid.
It is vital to consult with an attorney with ample experience in the Washington DC DUI court process to avoid having a criminal case on your record.
How to Fight License Suspension Hearing
If you have lost your driver’s license following a DUI, you will need to know how to fight the license suspension hearing. As you may realize, having your license suspended can burden you and your family, especially if you live in an area that does not have public transit.
Sympathetic law firms understand that the chance of being arrested for DUI is more likely during holidays in which alcohol is expected to be served, such as New Year’s Eve. The Surge Stopper offers incentives to encourage people to avoid driving after drinking. Since so many people choose to operate a motor vehicle after imbibing mind-altering substances, a chemical testing is likely to be administered if you are pulled over or encounter a routine traffic stop.
If you refused to take the chemical test, you would automatically experience a DUI arrest. Having an attorney involved early can only help you fight your DUI charge. If your license is still suspended, your attorney may be able to shorten it and make it with fewer penalties like community service. You need to request a free consultation and a court hearing as soon as possible.
Can I Request a Restricted License at DMV Suspension Hearing?
You may be wondering if you can request a restricted license at a DMV suspension hearing. Yes, you may be granted a restricted license to drive to work and for other necessary activities. This will be considered during your hearing.
You must request a hearing as soon as possible. Thus, you should get the help of an experienced attorney. Contact DC DUI lawyer Christopher J. Mutimer to avoid suspension or revocation of your license, as well as the requirement of installing an inconvenient ignition interlock device in your motor vehicle. Whether it is your first offense or third, he will provide experienced counsel and advocacy that your case requires if it goes to court.