What To Expect In A DMV Hearing

If you've been charged with a DUI, your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend or revoke your driver's license. However, you have a right to an administrative hearing on the matter. Typically, the administrative hearing will be scheduled at a local DMV office or over the phone. While a DUI charge usually results in some sort of driving restriction, you may be able to get a restricted license.

Preparing for a DMV Hearing

Successfully defending one’s drivers license at hearing the requires thoughtful preparation. Such preparation begins by reading the notice of proposed suspension or revocation, as well as any traffic citations referenced in the hearing notice.

When attending the DMV hearing, the hearing officer will be expecting the driver to explain the citations on their record. Of course, the hearing officer might also understand that a driver may be unaccustomed to advocating in such a environment. But effective advocacy is more than merely saying that the loss of one’s license would be unfair. Instead, a person should show how they rely on their driver’s license. For instance, a letter from an employer that says how a person needs a license to get around in a company vehicle as a required part of their job can be an effective piece of evidence. If the DMV is inclined to revoke a person’s drivers license, a possible hardship could convince the DMV to grant a limited driver’s license, sometimes known as a “Cinderella license”.

After the hearing, the hearing officer will make a decision and send a copy to the driver. If the driver loses at the hearing stage, many jurisdictions allow some further form of review. For instance, in Massachusetts, a person can appeal the hearing officer’s decision by filing an appeal with the Board of Appeals. 

The Role of Legal Counsel

Because a driver’s license is important for getting around, such as for a job or school, the loss of a person’s driver’s license, even if only temporary, is a very serious matter. At a DMV hearing, a person can certainly advocate for themselves, but hiring a qualified attorney can be very helpful. A lawyer with experience in DMV advocacy will know how to emphasize the key facts and the necessary law of that jurisdiction at a hearing. In so doing, a lawyer can improve the chances of a motorist keeping or regaining his or her license.

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