MVA Hearings v. DUI Proceedings in Maryland

Going through the process of an MVA hearing can be stressful and confusing. Their decision on your driver’s license can seriously impact your ability to accomplish basic daily tasks. Get in touch with a Maryland MVA hearing attorney who understands the process to hel

Timing Of MVA Hearings and DUI Court Dates

That varies on a case by case basis. It depends on how busy the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is relative to the individual court system. There are some jurisdictions, for example Baltimore County, where court dates take a long time to occur. Someone could have their first court date five or six months after the incident. In that case, they would almost certainly have their administrative hearing before their court date. There are other places where they will have their first court date within a month of the incident, so that would happen much sooner than the MVA hearing. It depends on the jurisdiction and also the timing.

Impact of MVA Hearing on DUI Court Case

The two systems are completely independent. Someone could get a not-guilty verdict in court and still lose their driver’s license at the hearing. You could also win the administrative hearing but still lose the case in court.

The issues, especially for refusal cases, are very different. A refusal case at the MVA isn’t about whether the individual was impaired or sober; it is about the individual refusing to submit to a breath test, so it’s a completely different issue. Additionally, standards of persuasion are very different. The standard of persuasion for the criminal courts is beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high standard. The standard of persuasion for an administrative license suspension is preponderance of the evidence, which is a very low legal standard.

Impact of DUI Refusal to Blow on MVA Hearing

There are two types of administrative hearings: one type is when an individual blows into the breathalyzer and the other type is when an individual refuses to blow.

When the individual blows, the issue is whether that individual was operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content in excess of the legal limit. That is very similar to the criminal DUI Per Se charge, but there are some different evidentiary rules. In court, they use the rules of evidence, which sets a pretty high bar.

In the administrative context, they use the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which means that if evidence is relevant and probative—relevant meaning it relates to the case and probative meaning it helps to determine some fact of the case—then it comes in and the judge decides how much weight to give it.

The police officer who pulled the individual over does not have to appear at an administrative hearing. They submit their report, the administrative judge looks at the report, and they say, “That’s the state’s case. Now, it’s your turn to put on your case, defendant.” In court, the police officer would have to appear, testify, lay the proper foundation, and jump through more hurdles than they do at the MVA.