There are two parts to any Driving Under the Influence case. The first part is the criminal case where the driver’s guilt or innocence is established. The second part is the hearing before the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The MVA hearing establishes what happens to your driving privileges as a result of the DUI conviction. Drivers can also be required to attend an MVA hearing if they need to contest a license suspension because they failed to give their implied consent to a breath or a blood test.
The initial step is to speak with an experienced MVA hearing lawyer as soon as your receive any formal documents from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. There are strict deadlines form requesting an appeal, usually 30 days. There are even stricter deadlines, just 10 days, if you want to appeal and keep your license until the MVA makes a ruling. Hearings are heard before the Office of Administrative Hearings.
Practical suggestions for the MVA hearing
Drivers should be given forms at the time they are stopped for driving under the influence. These forms include:
- The Officer’s Certification and Order of Suspension
- Advice of Rights Form
If these forms were not completed or were filled out incorrectly, you may be able to use them for your defense.
Drivers should understand and prepare for the following:
- There isn’t a prosecutor or government attorney at the hearing. The police officer isn’t there initially. The people present at the hearing are the driver, the driver’s lawyer, and the administrative law judge. The judge essentially wears two hats. He/she presents the evidence – usually through paperwork from the police officer. The Judge then hears evidence and legal arguments from the driver and the driver’s lawyer. The judge may continue the case to hear from the police officer if the driver testifies.
- Ideally, the judge will rule for the driver. When the judge rules against the driver, then the lawyer will normally ask that the driver be allowed to have a restricted license so they can get to work or school. Provided the blood alcohol level is below .15 and the other standard restricted license requirements are met, the driver should be able to obtain a restricted driver’s license. Restricted drivers’ licenses are not available for drivers with commercial drivers’ licenses.
- In many contested cases, the arguments are legal. Your attorney will argue that certain formalities weren’t met or that the suspension shouldn’t apply given your situation. In some cases, the driver may need to testify especially if there are issues involving whether they agreed to or refused to take a breath test. You lawyer should prepare you for the hearing by running through the questions you will likely be asked.
As with most testimony in court, the drivers should:
- Make sure they understand the question being asked before answering.
- Take their time to think through their response before answering.
- Not volunteer information that wasn’t asked.
The best defense to a license suspension due to a DUI is to obtain a dismissal or acquittal of the original DUI charge. In some cases, a plea bargain can be obtained which drops the DUI charge in return for the driver pleading guilty to specific traffic offenses. Our MVA hearing lawyers fight to defeat the prosecutor’s case before it gets to the MVA hearing stage. We also work aggressively to show that there are legal or factual reasons why your license should not be suspended. For help with any DUI charge or MVA hearing, phone Carey Law Office at 301-464-2500 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Bowie and Crofton.