Challenging a DC DUI License Suspension

Once someone’s license has been suspended following a DUI arrest, there are certain steps for them to take to request a hearing to challenge their suspension. When someone goes to the DMV to request a hearing, the hearing is scheduled 30 to 60 days from that time. A Department of Motor Vehicle examiner holds the hearing where the police officer gives testimony to establish that there was probable cause to arrest the person under suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer testifies that based on the evidence presented, the DMV can suspend the individual’s privilege or license to drive.

It is important to work with a skilled DUI attorney when preparing to challenge a license suspension following a DC DUI arrest, as they can help to streamline the process and prepare the defense.

Hearing Process

The hearing to challenge a DC DUI license suspension consists of an officer coming forward to testify under oath to the hearing examiner describing what happened in the case. The hearing examiner asks questions and the defense attorney asks cross-examination questions. When the officer comes to the hearing, they testify under oath without the protection of a prosecutor to object to questions to protect that witness. The testimony is specifically about the matters at issue in that separate criminal case.

A great deal of useful information can be garnered through the hearing process. When circumstances warrant, the defense has the right to call witnesses of their own including the person facing the charges. This does not happen often when there is a pending criminal case. The person does not want to testify under oath about the specific issues in their pending criminal case. For example, they do not want to be under oath admitting to drinking and driving.

Most often, only the officer and attorney are present at the hearing without the client’s presence. The officer testifies and the defense attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine the officer. The hearing examiner makes a decision as to whether the police officer presented enough evidence to sustain the finding that there was probable cause for the arrest for driving under the influence.

No Action Cases

When the defense attorney is present when challenging a DC DUI license suspension, the officer who is not protected and must testify under oath may not show up. If they do appear and see that there is an attorney to cross-examine them, they may agree to walk away and not move forward with hearing. When that occurs, the proposed revocation does not necessarily disappear forever.

The DMV puts the case in a “no action” position until the criminal case is resolved. When the officer does not go forward with the hearing or if the officer does not have adequate evidence and a “no action” is taken, the person charged might be convicted of a DUI or OWI at trial or through a plea. In that case, the person automatically faces a DMV license revocation. If the person is not licensed in DC, they face a privilege to drive revocation.

Diversion Programs

That applies even when the person is in a diversion program called a deferred sentencing agreement where they initially plead guilty but are not convicted. Instead, the person does community service and some other programs, returns to court and if they are successful, the charges are dismissed and the guilty plea is withdrawn. However, the DMV treats that as a conviction. After a law change in 2012, entering into a deferred sentencing agreement counts as a prior conviction in DC when someone is later arrested and charged with another DUI. Even though the person was not actually convicted, the DMV and law treat it as a conviction and give penalties accordingly.

Obtaining an ID Card

Once an individual loses their privilege to drive, the police say that the individual should surrender their license, but that rarely happens. The license is in a revoked or suspended status. The ID is still valid, the plastic license is valid for identification purposes. However, the person cannot legally drive.

If someone does not have a license but wants to get an ID or the police seized their license, they can go to the DC DMV office and request a non-driver identification card. They must establish their identity and residency in DC like an individual would in every other state. The person must bring identification such as a birth certificate or passport and proof of residence in DC such as their lease or utility bills.