As previously blogged about, one of the collateral consequences of an arrest and/or conviction for a DC DUI can be the revocation or suspension of your 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 DMV. For out of state license holders, you have 15 days to request a hearing. For DC license holders, you only have 10 days to request a hearing. If you do not request a hearing, DMV will revoke your 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.
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 your license for a period of six months or one year. Second, the Hearing Examiner may dismiss the hearing. In that case, your license remains valid and driving privileges remain intact. However, if you are ultimately convicted in the criminal case, then your 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. I 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. 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. You will in all likelihood lose the hearing but the lawyer may get some good testimony from the officer. The hearings are recorded and tape of the hearing can easily be obtained after the fact. If the officer later provides contradictory testimony at trial, your attorney can use the tape from the DMV hearing to impeach the officer. 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, you could 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.