Articles Tagged with DC DMV

car-1232347As previously discussed, if you are arrested in the District of Columbia for a DUI, the DMV will most likely suspend or revoke your license for a period of 6 months to 2 years depending on various factors. However, the DC DMV offe
rs an Ignition Interlock Device Program (IIDP) allows DUI and DWI offenders to get their driving privileges back faster.  An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer connected to a car’s ignition system. To start the car, the driver must first blow into the device to check the alcohol level on his or her breath. The car will only start if the driver’s breath alcohol level is below an accepted amount on the device.

While the device itself may be a bit burdensome on a driver or a somewhat unsightly in your vehicle, DC’s IIDP gives DUI offenders a chance to reduce the suspension or revocation period on their license. What this means is that if your license is suspended because of a DC DUI and you participate in the program, you get a restricted driver’s license which allows you to drive as you once did, so long as your vehicle contains the breathalyzer. Although the program is optional at the moment, it may become mandatory for some DUI offenders.

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A likely consequence of a DC DUI conviction is the suspension or revocation of your license.  In the District of Columbia, if you are convicted for a DUI, the DMV will automatically initiate procedures against you to either suspend or revoke your driver’s license.  The DC DMV takes this step regardless of whether you are actually convicted of the DUI.  We have previously discussed tips for preventing the license suspension while the case is pending.  If you ultimately get convicted, there is virtually no way around suspension.  If your license has been suspended or revoked in the District, there are important things to know to reinstate your driving privileges.

First, you must wait to reinstate your license after the suspension time or revocation period has ended.  What this means is that you are not eligible for reinstatement within a certain period of time after your arrest, and the time period varies depending on whether you submitted to or refused to take the breathalyzer test during your arrest.

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In the District of Columbia, when an individual gets arrested for a DUI or DWI, the police officer is supposed to serve the individual a “Notice of Proposed Revocation.” The Notice instructs the person arrested that they must request a hearing with DC DMV within 10 days otherwise their DC driver’s license will be suspended. If the person arrested has an out of state license, the proposed notice of revocation instructs them to request a hearing within 15 days. If the arrested person with an out of state license fails to request a hearing within 15 days, that person will lose their driving privileges in In the District of Columbia.

If an individual fails to request the hearing but continues to drive they could get arrested for operating after suspension (“OAS”) or operating after revocation (“OAR”). Those crimes are separate misdemeanors that carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $5,000.00 fine. While most people get unsupervised probation if convicted for those crimes, getting arrested while having a pending DUI case can definitely lead to some jail time. In addition, convictions for OAS and OAR also carries 12 points with the DC DMV. A DUI combined with an OAR or OAS arrest or conviction can lead to serious license problems. Its like digging a hole you cannot get out of.

Accordingly, its extremely important that anyone arrested for a DC DUI request a hearing within the time limits set forth in the Notice. The location to set a DMV hearing is 301 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20001. The Notice provides several basis to revoke or suspend a license or driving privileges. Refusing to take a breathalyzer is a basis to issue the Notice. Simply getting arrested for DUI is enough to get issued a Notice regardless of whether the arrested person blows in the breathalyzer. It’s the officer’s responsibility to properly serve the Notice on the arrested person and get it to the DC DMV. In rare cases, the officer may forget to submit the paperwork and the arrested person will go to the DMV anyway. In that situation, the DMV will usually tell the arrested person that they have nothing on file. In that situation, the person’s driving privileges are safe unless and until they get convicted for a DC DUI, DWI, or OWI.

When a person requests the hearing, that request will toll the suspension at least until the criminal case is over. For example, lets say you get arrested on January 1st. If you do nothing, your driving privileges will be suspended or revoked. If you request a hearing and let’s say it gets set for February 7, your license will remain valid at least until February 7. If the officer fails to show up for the February 7 hearing, the DMV will take no action against the license. That means you will only lose your license if you ultimately get convicted in the criminal case. If you hire an aggressive DC DUI lawyer and get the case dismissed or you win at trial, you will never lose your license in the process under that scenario. However, if win the DMV hearing and ultimately get convicted, DC DMV will suspend your license for 6 months if you blew and one year if you refused to blow in the breathalyzer.

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DC DMV Hearing

DC DMV Hearing

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.

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