Maryland MVA Hearing Process
An MVA hearing is generally much more straightforward than a court case. There is no State’s Attorney or prosecutor and there is no police officer. It’s just the accused drunk driver, their attorney, and the administrative law judge in the administrative law judge’s office. The administrative law judge will present the MVA’s case, which is usually done via paperwork. The officer will send in several forms that were involved in the arrest and those constitute the MVA’s case.
Once the judge looks over those papers, they say, “Okay, the MVA has made their case. Do you have any testimony?” At that point, either the driver or any witnesses that they have will testify. At the conclusion of that testimony, the defense attorney will make an argument explaining to the judge why they shouldn’t suspend the person’s license, and the judge will make a determination.
If the judge finds that they should suspend the license, at that point the attorney will usually ask for a modified or restricted license. Generally, in Maryland, the only people who are eligible for work permits are individuals who blow into the breathalyzer and blow under .15 percent, so from .08 to .14. If an individual blows higher than .15 or refuses to do a test, then the only kind of modified license they can get is one that requires them to have an ignition interlock device for a period of one year.
How Long Do MVA Hearings Usually Take?
Every case is unique and individual. A simple modification hearing in which an individual is asking for a work permit typically takes about 20 minutes. A case in which an individual is trying to challenge the actual suspension can take anywhere from 20 minutes to about an hour. Occasionally, those hearings are continued. An individual will provide their evidence and then the judge will continue the hearing to summon the police officer. That will actually be a two-stage hearing, which is why it would take an hour.
Preparing for an MVA Hearing
They should seek counsel. That is the most important thing an individual can do to prepare for an MVA hearing because people who are charged with DUI have no contact or experience with the criminal justice system or the administrative suspension system. It’s very important to have somebody who understands that system look at the case, look at the paperwork, and talk to the person about what happened so that they can figure out what their options are.
One of the most important things that I do in advising individuals, particularly first offenders, is talk to them about the consequences for their driver’s license. In most cases, the administrative suspension is a more difficult burden to bear than any sanctions posted by the court, particularly for first offenders.
Scheduling an MVA Hearing
Yes. An individual who gets arrested for DUI has ten days to request an administrative hearing if they want their temporary license extended until the date of the hearing. The absolute deadline for requesting a hearing is 30 days from the date of the incident, so that’s the big deadline in a DUI case. A lot of individuals find an attorney right away because they have that ten-day window within which they need to request the hearing.