In most states, motorists can be subjected to penalties for perceived infractions. In order to appeal or fight back, they may have to request an administrative hearing from the DMV.
For certain types of accusations, such as DUIs or DWIs, no conviction or court hearing is needed for an arresting official to suspend a driver’s license temporarily. Similarly, drivers who refuse to submit to official BAC testing in states with implied consent laws may be arrested automatically or have their licenses suspended. All of these suspensions fall under the category of Administrative License Suspensions, and because many states enact them as a drunk-driving deterrent, there are usually mechanisms for contesting them in order to have further actions and penalties cancelled.
Although DUI-related driver’s license suspensions and revocations are the most commonly appealed sanctions, DMV administrative hearings can be requested for other reasons. For instance, after they’ve failed to appear at a court date or pay a security deposit, businesses and private individuals in Nevada may ask for hearings prior to actually having their licenses suspended.
Although they’re different from civil and criminal courts, administrative courts and the hearings they hold bear many of the same characteristics. For instance, witnesses may retain the services of professional legal representatives, present various forms of physical evidence, request settlements and have a hearing without paying a fee for the privilege. Similarly, judges may decide to subpoena witnesses who have to testify under oath, and rulings can be delayed at the discretion of the deciding official.
One notably unique characteristic of DMV administrative hearings is that drivers may not be eligible for them in all circumstances. For instance, some states bar topics like applications for restricted licenses from such proceedings, and most jurisdictions stipulate that drivers must request hearings within a certain time frame following the initial suspension date or criminal charge.
The unique time limits and other legal factors surrounding DMV administrative hearings can potentially make them a bit more difficult for drivers to manage than criminal hearings for which they’ve received advance notification. As such, many motorists seek legal counsel to ensure they’re following the proper procedures before requesting hearings.