Let’s say you found yourself in a situation where the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) has decided to suspend your driver’s license. Maybe you hold a provisional license and you committed a moving violation, forcing the MVA to suspend your license. Maybe you were arrested for driving while under the influence (DUI), and you refused to take a breath test.
Although you are facing a serious offense, you still need your driver’s license out of necessity. Maybe you use your driver’s license to travel back and forth to your place of employment. You may be taking college courses and need your vehicle to travel safely back and forth to school.
Whatever your situation might be, you can challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. You do have a chance to plead your case as to why your license should not be suspended. This opportunity is known as a Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) Hearing, and you should do so with the help of an Annapolis traffic violations attorney.
What is an MVA hearing?
An MVA hearing is a disposition heard in front of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). It is not as formal as a traditional courtroom hearing, as the only authority and decision-maker present is an administrative law judge. You, your attorney, and the administrative law judge are the only parties present in the hearing. The MVA will not send a representative on its behalf; however, all documentation that the MVA might provide against you is reviewed by the administrative judge.
The purpose of an MVA hearing is to allow you, the license holder, to contest the suspension of your license in front of an administrative law judge. The administrative judge has the responsibility to compare your need for a driver’s license to the safety of the general public and come to a sound decision.
After reviewing the information presented by the MVA, as well as your attorney’s testimony, the administrative judge will come to a decision that same day regarding your license suspension. The administrative judge will decide whether to uphold your license suspension or reinstate your license.
How do I request an MVA hearing?
When your license has been suspended, the MVA will send a notification letter to your address on file explaining the reason for your suspension and your instructions for requesting a hearing. There is a time limit on when an MVA hearing can be requested – depending upon your circumstances, you may be required to submit your hearing request within 10 days of receiving your notification letter (for drivers with either a DWI or DUI charge) or the maximum standard of 30 days. You will also be required to pay a $150 filing fee.
Once your hearing request is submitted, your hearing will be scheduled in the next four to six weeks.
What happens during the MVA hearing?
The MVA hearing usually takes place inside an administrative judge’s office. While the proceedings are not as formal as a traditional courtroom hearing, you do not want to treat the hearing in an informal manner. Make sure you are properly dressed and treat the administrative judge with the utmost respect. In these types of hearings, the only parties present are you, your attorney, and the administrative judge.
Although the MVA will not have a physical representative present during the hearing, any paperwork and evidence that supports the MVA’s decision for license suspension will be reviewed by the administrative judge. Generally, the arresting officer’s police report is used as evidence to support the suspension. After the review, your attorney will have the opportunity to argue why your license should not be suspended. The typical timeframe for a hearing is between 30 minutes to an hour.
What happens after the MVA hearing?
Once the judge reaches a decision, the MVA will be notified about the outcome of your hearing and your driving record will be updated immediately. If the administrative judge decides to uphold your license suspension, you must surrender your license to any MVA office in Maryland.
If the administrative judge decides to reinstate your license, no additional action is needed on your part. If you are unsatisfied with the judge’s decision, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision within 30 days in the Circuit Court. Your attorney can help you with this appeal, but you must act quickly.
Administrative judges can make three decisions concerning license suspensions in MVA hearings. The first one is to uphold the license suspension, and the second one is to reinstate the license. A third option is granting restricted privileges to the driver. Restricted privileges include only being permitted to operate your vehicle when traveling to work or school.
What happens if I miss an MVA hearing?
For whatever reason, there are occasions where you may not be able to physically show up for your MVA hearing. In this case, the MVA will proceed with the suspension of your license. The good news is that this decision is not final. If you can prove that there is “good cause” for the MVA to schedule another hearing for you, your request will likely be granted.
However, you must write a letter to the Administrative Adjudication Division in Glen Burnie, Maryland. When writing your letter, you want to make sure that you are as specific and detailed as you can when explaining why the MVA should grant your request.
If you have been notified of an MVA administrative hearing, it is your right to have a lawyer present. The experienced Annapolis traffic defense lawyer at Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, can help you understand the MVA administrative hearing process. Our firm serves clients from two office locations: Annapolis and Ellicott City. Don’t take MVA actions lightly. If you are facing MVA sanctions, call Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law today at 410-271-1892, or fill out our contact form. There’s always someone ready to take your call.
And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.