One of the collateral consequences of an arrest and/or conviction for a DUI in the District of Columbia can be the revocation or suspension of the defendant’s DC driver’s license. Police officers who make an arrest for DUI or DWI are supposed to provide the arrestee with a Notice of Proposed Revocation. The Notice instructs the arrestee to request a hearing with the DC Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”).
For out of state license holders, the defendant has 15 days to request a hearing. For DC license holders, you only have 10 days to request a hearing. If the arrestee does not request a hearing, the DMV will revoke their driver’s license (for a DC license holder) or driving privileges in DC (for an out of state license holder) automatically. Accordingly, its extremely important that you request a hearing after being arrested for DUI. At Scrofano Law PC, we provide a service to all DUI clients where we request the hearing on their behalf, which saves our clients a trip to the DMV.
DMV Hearing Examiner
The hearing will be conducted by a DMV Hearing Examiner who in some ways is similar to a judge. There are three possible outcomes of a DMV Hearing. First, the Hearing Examiner may revoke the license for a period of six months or one year. A one-year suspension can occur when the individual refuses to take the breath test. Second, the Hearing Examiner may dismiss the hearing. In that case, the license remains valid and driving privileges remain intact at least during the pendency of the criminal case. However, if the defendant is ultimately convicted in the criminal case, then their license would eventually be suspended. Finally, the Hearing Examiner could “take no action,” which means license and driving privileges remain intact until the criminal case is resolved one way or the other.
Its important to hire an experienced DC DUI and DWI lawyer for your DMV hearing. On the one hand, officers will often fail to appear for the hearing. In that case, the potential license suspension will usually (but not always) be dismissed. At Scrofano Law PC, we always recommend that clients request a hearing as early in the morning as possible because that increases the likelihood the officer will fail to appear. This request usually occurs for a 9:00 a.m. hearing, which also coincides with the officer’s shift change.
Having the Hearing
If the officer does show up, a good DC DUI lawyer will spend as much time as the Hearing Examiner will allow cross-examining the officer. Its usually likely to lose the hearing if the officer shows up. However, the lawyer could get some good testimony from the officer to use in the criminal case. The hearings are recorded, and tape of the hearing can be obtained after the fact. If the officer later provides contradictory testimony at trial, the attorney can use the tape from the DMV hearing to impeach the officer’s testimony and credibility. The DMV hearing is conducted under oath, which makes the impeachment in the criminal case even more effective.
In addition, if the officer does show up, the defendant can theoretically ask the Hearing Examiner to take no action until the criminal case is resolved. However, most Hearing Examiners will not accommodate this request as they view the license issue separate from the criminal case.
There are some mechanisms to challenge the notice provided as deficient that can work even when the officer shows up. For example, sometimes the SFST officer shows up when they try to get the defendant for a refusal. While DMV hearings permit hearsay testimony, there is a specific municipal regulation that prohibits DMV from revoking someone’s license solely based on hearsay. That means if the government wants to revoke the defendant’s license at DMV because of a refusal, the police must send the breathalyzer officer to testify. These small distinctions and subtleties in the regulations can be the difference between a one year revocation and a six month revocation—and in some cases, can cause the DMV to take no action against the driver’s license.
Hiring an Attorney
The DMV hearing can be used tactically to help with the criminal case. Accordingly, its important that you hire a qualified and aggressive DUI lawyer to represent you in both the criminal case and the DMV hearing. At Scrofano Law PC, our attorneys have experience successfully defending DUI cases in the District of Columbia before the Superior Court. IN addition, they have extensive experience defending licenses in the DMV. To save one’s license after a DC DUI arrest, it’s a two-step process. The lawyer must fight first in the DMV and then resolve the criminal case in a way that does not trigger a suspension or revocation. Contact Scrofano Law PC today for a full case evaluation.