What Are the Chances of Winning a DMV Hearing?

What Is a DMV DUI Hearing?

DMV hearings are related to DUI or DWI cases on an administrative basis. A DUI arrest results in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspending your full license. 

The legal proceedings for someone arrested for drunk-driving or drugged driving are as follows:

  • DUI charges in state court
  • An administrative hearing at the DMV

The DMV hearing is only about the defendant’s driving privileges. In the DMV case, the defendant cannot be jailed or placed on probation, unlike in a criminal case.

A DUI arrest will result in the confiscation of the driver’s license. The driver will receive a pink Notice of Suspension. This notice will act as a temporary, 30-day license. A 30-day suspension will take effect once these days expire. Drivers are also informed in the notice that they can request a hearing with the DMV, known as a Driver Safety Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing, to prevent this impending suspension. Drivers must, however, request this hearing within 10 days after their arrest.

As an alternative, you could receive a restricted license, which allows drivers to drive in certain circumstances. Most restricted licenses pertain to getting partial driving privileges back after an arrest for drunk driving or conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Drivers lose this right if they do not invoke it within 10 days. They will not receive a hearing. The court will automatically suspend the license when the temporary notice expires in 30 days.

Once scheduled, the hearing will halt the suspension of the driver’s license until the outcome of the hearing.

The DMV conducts the hearings, not a criminal court. Telephone hearings are also possible. Hearing officers are DMV employees, not judges. Most hearing officers have no legal training. The defendant has the following rights:

  • to review the evidence against them, such as test results, arrest reports, and police reports, and contest them
  • to subpoena witnesses, including the arresting officer, and present them as witnesses
  • to examine any witnesses presented
  • to provide testimony

Both sides will present evidence to the DMV hearing officer. Afterward, he or she will determine whether a preponderance of the evidence indicates the driver was under the influence of alcohol. Compared to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required in criminal DUI cases, this burden of proof is significantly lower.

You may be wondering how to win a DMV hearing. If the hearing officer finds the driver was under the influence, the license suspension will stand. In cases where there is insufficient evidence or if the driver successfully raises a strong defense, the officer will set aside the action and reverse the suspension.

Also read:Driving Without a License in New Jersey

Every TV show where someone is pulled over by the police has the same opening exchange, “License and registration please?” It may not...

How the DMV Process Works

The police notify the DMV when you are arrested for DUI, and the DMV immediately suspends your license. There is no criminal aspect to this. It means they don’t wait until they decide your case. The DMV can revoke your license, and the hearing officer can later find you not guilty in court.

You can prevent an APS suspension only once. Within 10 days of your arrest, you must request a hearing with the DMV. Upon requesting a hearing, the hearing officer will stay the suspension until the hearing concludes. It is often the case that hearings are scheduled months in advance, so you may have to go to court before the hearing ever takes place. On the other hand, it can also be the opposite; you can win at your DMV hearing even if your court case is not yet resolved.

Is Requesting a DMV Hearing Still Worth It?

In short, yes. After being arrested for DUI, you should request a DMV hearing. You will immediately have time on your side, and you may avoid having to deal with the APS suspension before your trial. You will also benefit from:

  • Keeping your license if you win
  • Not having to pay a reinstatement fee if you win both the hearing and the court case
  • Subpoenaing the arresting officer to appear at the DMV hearing

Hearings with the arresting officer(s) present are an excellent way to improve your court case. The arresting officer includes one statement in the arrest report, and one at trial. Questioning them in between is impossible. Your lawyer receives a valuable opportunity to question the officers by calling them to the hearing before the trial. It helps your lawyer build a much stronger case for you if he can spot any inconsistencies in the officer’s story early.

What Are Some DUI Defense Strategies?

1. Demonstrate that the officer did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle

Detaining a motorist who drives while intoxicated requires probable cause.

If the driver’s DUI lawyer can show the arresting officer lacked probable cause, the person arrested for the crime can win at a DMV hearing. A DUI lawyer can argue that an officer lacked probable cause for arrest for any number of reasons. One such argument might be:

  • Driving was per all traffic and federal laws
  • The motorist was pulled over due to racial profiling

2. Your refusal of a blood or breath test was not explained to you

An officer must inform the driver that his or her license will be automatically suspended for one year if the person refuses to submit to a chemical test or breath test (via a breathalyzer).

What Are Some DUI Defense Strategies?

Officers make numerous drunk driving arrests and sometimes:

  • Fail to inform people of the consequences of refusal
  • Deliberately fail to provide adequate advice
  • Recite their interpretation rather than reading the admonition

DMV hearing officers could set aside a license suspension if any of these actions were taken.

3. Prove that your BAC was below .08 %

In the majority of states, the DMV can only suspend a person’s license after an arrest for DUI if they:

  • Have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more, which is over the legal limit
  • Refused to take a blood or breath test

If a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is under .08%, it can be used at a DMV hearing.

4. Prove that you weren’t driving a car

Drivers can win DMV hearings if they can prove they were not driving when the police arrested them.

The hearing officer should set aside a license suspension if the officer did not personally observe the arrestee driving, provided that:

  • The DMV does not call witnesses to testify that the arrested person was driving
  • Other evidence does not support that the motorist was driving

Consider, for instance, a drunk driver who decides to sleep it off rather than drive. Because the person was not technically driving, he or she is not guilty of driving under the influence. The person’s license shouldn’t be suspended as a result.

5. Provide proof that you agreed to a blood or breath test

At a DMV hearing, drivers will win if they demonstrate they complied with authorities and provided a blood or breath sample. Providing the results of the tests show that the drivers are not drunk.

Drivers can, for example, show:

  • The officer conducted a chemical test. Although they attempted to blow, their breath samples were insufficient.
  • The officer did not offer blood draws in place of breath tests.
  • They simply assumed that the questions about the tests were not serious and interpreted them as a refusal.

The hearing officer should set aside any suspension based on any of these showings.

Do you need legal assistance?Find the right lawyer in your area.

What Are the Odds of Winning at the DMV Hearing?

An individual who was arrested and accused of driving under the influence (DUI) may have a better chance of winning a hearing with the DMV based on the facts and circumstances of their arrest. The chances of winning the DMV hearing are slim if police have a strong case. Those odds are much higher if the police made a mistake during the arrest. With the help of a DUI lawyer or criminal defense lawyer, you can increase your chances of success.

So, how to win a DMV and DUI hearing? A variety of factors can contribute to a successful outcome, including:

  • The officer didn’t have probable cause 
  • The officer didn’t give  a clear and concise instruction 
  • A negative breath test result
  • The officer didn’t warn the driver what the consequences are if he refuses a chemical breathalyzer or blood test
  • The driver’s refusal to take the test

It is not impossible to win the hearing. Drivers should always consider the right to an administrative hearing. You may challenge an automatic suspension of a driver’s license if you take this step.

What Happens If I Win My DMV Hearing?

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will reinstate the driving privileges of drivers who win their hearing. The hearing officer will set aside the suspension action. Driving privileges and your driving record will not show this incident.

Drivers have rights at the DMV hearing. As a result, they have the opportunity and the means to raise one of these defenses. Drivers, for example, are entitled to:

  • Attorney representation, at the driver’s expense, by a criminal defense lawyer or DUI attorney
  • View and challenge evidence, such as the police report or medical report
  • Cross-examine witnesses, such as the arresting officer
  • Subpoena defense witnesses and present them to the court
  • Defend themselves in court

DMV hearing officers weigh the evidence before deciding whether to sustain the action and impose the driver’s license suspension or set aside the action and reverse the suspension.

DMV hearings only affect the suspension of a driver’’s license. The DMV hearing officer cannot impose other penalties, such as fines or jail time.

If your license has been suspended, you may wonder how to win a license suspension hearing. To sustain the suspension, law enforcement or the DMV must meet the burden of proof. DMV hearings have a lower burden of proof than criminal cases. In criminal cases, prosecutors must prove their case. Hearings at the DMV require only a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the hearing officer will suspend the license if there was a greater likelihood of a justified suspension.

A Final Thought

The likelihood of a driver winning a DMV hearing is dependent on the facts. The driver has an easier time winning a hearing if law enforcement violated his rights. If you hire a skilled DUI lawyer, you will have a better chance of winning.

Article by Sofi Ostymchuk

Sofi Ostymchuk is a Content Lead and Legal Writer at Lawrina. Sofi manages the content on the blog, communicates with contributors, looks for interesting topics, and creates articles in cooperation with lawyers and law experts. If you would like to be a blogger for Lawrina, you can contact Sofi for all the details via email at s.ostymchuk@lawrina.com.


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