Florida DMV Hearing 101: How to Prepare
Florida DMV Hearings
In Florida, once an individual has been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), he or she faces a long list of potential penalties, including a lengthy driver’s license suspension. However, what is important to remember is that a driver can still fight to have this administrative suspension removed by requesting a DMV administrative hearing. That is why it is so essential to understand not only how much you have at stake during a DMV hearing, but also that you have to act quickly to ensure that you don’t miss crucial deadlines.
To provide you with a better chance of prevailing through this whole process, our experienced DUI Attorneys at Meldon Law have created the following suggestions to help you understand what you need to know about DMV hearings and how to best prepare for one.
1. Understanding What a DMV Hearing Involves
When a driver is arrested for a DUI, he or she only has ten days after being arrested for DUI to apply for a DMV administrative review hearing. This hearing is critical in deciding whether you will be able to maintain your driving privileges after your arrest. One of the most common mistakes that many individuals that are arrested for DUI make is that they do not realize that the DMV proceedings are different from their criminal court proceedings. This leads them to wrongly assume that both the DMV and the criminal court expect the same type of information.
However, in reality, the DMV is only concerned with whether or not the suspension of your license is lawful, and will only accept evidence that is related to this issue. If you do not understand the differences between the two and do not approach your DMV hearing with the right game plan, it can significantly impair your chances of success and the ability to keep your driver’s license. That is why it is so essential to speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney that can assist you through this formal review hearing process and help protect your driving privileges.
2. Prepare a Compelling Argument
There are some important things to note about DMV hearings. First, DMV hearings are limited in scope and are held informally. The DMV has the burden of proof. If you have been arrested and were required to take a chemical test (typically a blood or breath test), then more likely than not, the DMV has all the evidence it needs to have a strong case against you.
What’s even worse is that if you say the wrong thing or indicate something that supports the DMV’s arguments, then all your efforts may go wasted. That is why it is crucial that you prepare for your DMV hearing with a solid strategy, that you compile compelling evidence, and that you understand precisely what you need to say and what you should avoid saying.
Put simply, the following are some tactics that you should consider when preparing for your DMV hearing:
- Understand the purpose of requesting a DMV hearing and what you are trying to accomplish.
- Make sure that you come prepared with a strategy and a script, and that you know precisely what you want to say.
- Consider working with a DUI defense lawyer to help you through the whole DMV hearing process. Your attorney can assist your case by reviewing all the pertinent information and figuring out what other evidence (witnesses, subpoenas, etc.) you need to succeed at your DMV hearing.
3. Informal Hearing Does NOT Mean Leniency
Do not expect to walk into your DMV hearing, issue a simple apology, promise that it will not happen again, and get out of your license suspension. Even though the process is much less formal than criminal proceedings, the hearing officer (the individual who will be deciding your case) will not be amused if you do not come to the hearing with specific arguments and evidence explaining why you deserve to keep your license.
Furthermore, the hearing officer will review limited evidence concerning your suspension, meaning that he or she will focus on the lawfulness of your suspension and only evaluate evidence pertaining to the following issues:
- Did the officer legally pull you over?
- Did the officer lawfully arrest you?
- Was your BAC test over the legal limit?
- Did the officer use the BAC testing equipment properly?
- Were you informed of the consequences of refusing a chemical test?
4. Make Sure You Write Everything Down
The best way for your attorney to formulate a solid defense for your DMV hearing is for you to provide him or her with as much information and detail as you can about the incident. As soon as possible, after the arrest, make sure you write down everything that happened, including why you were stopped, what was going on before you were stopped, and what the officer said and did when he or she stopped you. This information will give your attorney an accurate depiction of the situation and a good idea of what arguments to make.
5. Speak With an Experienced DUI Attorney
DMV hearings are complicated. Many individuals make the mistake of not taking the process as seriously as criminal court proceedings, and those individuals often end up with suspended licenses. That is why it is worth your time to speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney who can go over your case and help explain the whole process to you. Your attorney will provide you with all the information that you need to know, including what the specific procedures are and what you can expect to happen at the hearing.
In addition, if you retain an attorney, he or she can help you come up with a defense, obtain the critical evidence that you need, and prepare you for the hearing. What’s even better is that as your attorney prepares you for the DMV hearing, he or she will be able to get a peek of what is to come in your criminal proceedings. This information will help your attorney evaluate your overall case’s strengths and weaknesses and to prepare all potentially viable defenses.
If you were arrested for a DUI or have an upcoming administrative DMV hearing, an experienced DUI attorney can provide you with the assistance that you need to get through this legal process and maximize the chances of keeping your license or getting it back.