Ask an Attorney: What to Expect at a DMV Hearing

how to get a suspended license reinstated
How to Get a Suspended License Reinstated. Our Guide:
May 30, 2022

Has the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles suspended your license? They might have done it because of speeding, unpaid tickets, one or more DWI/DUI convictions, multiple tickets while their license was already suspended, or health or vision problems. If you want them to reinstate your privilege to drive, you will probably have to ask for a hearing and appear at your local DMV office.

Whatever the reason for the suspension, you don’t want to try to get your license back without help. You need an attorney experienced in dealing with the DMV. Prior to going to the DMV hearing, a good attorney will brief you on what to expect and go over the specific circumstances of your case. To give you a general idea of what might happen, however, here is what you may encounter.

How to Contest a Preliminary DWI Suspension

As mentioned above, there are a number of reasons why you might request an administrative hearing with the DMV. For example, if you have been arrested and charged with driving while impaired or driving under the influence, North Carolina will probably try to take your license and prevent you from driving for 30 days, even though you haven’t been convicted of anything. But you can fight this preliminary suspension. Immediately after being arrested for suspicion of a DWI, you can contest the revocation of your license in court. This needs to be filed right away, probably within ten days of being charged.

After that, DMV may try to revoke your license for at least a year, particularly if the arresting office claims you refused to blow into the intoxilyzer machine after you were arrested. That’s when you can ask for a hearing at your local DMV office. We discuss DMV hearings below.

You should seek out legal help for your DWI or DUI case as soon as you get out of jail or are released from custody following the arrest. You can talk with your legal team for not only about the defense of your DWI/DUI but to try to keep your license while your DWI progresses through court. Your DWI court case will take months, if not more, to resolve. Keep in mind that a DMV hearing is not directly connected to your DWI/DUI court case. Whatever happens in your DMV hearing, it may not impact your DWI case at all.

Requesting a DMV Hearing and What Happens

If you ask for a DMV hearing, you will probably have to pay a fee for the hearing and mail your request to the DMV in Raleigh. After that, especially since COVID, it will take months for your hearing to take place. At the hearing, you may have to testify and bring other witnesses to court with you. Your attorney will ask your witnesses questions and also cross-examine the witnesses for the DMV. He or she will argue why you need to be able to drive, either by reinstating your privilege to drive after a suspension or by maintaining it before a suspension.

While the hearing may seem informal compared to going before a judge, there are many procedural and evidentiary rules you have to follow. The hearing is recorded. After the hearing, the hearing officer or administrative judge will decide the case.

Following the Hearing

If you win, great! You might have your license fully restored or it may be conditionally restored with certain limitations. These limitations could be only driving for particular purposes, such as work, school, church, or household maintenance (the grocery store or the hardware store, for example). Or you might have to install an ignition interlock device on your car, requiring you to prove you haven’t drunk alcohol before trying to drive. Whatever the rules are, be sure to follow them. If you violate the restrictions, you will probably lose your license again, and this time it will be even harder to get it back.

If you don’t win, you may still have additional options to go to a judge for an appeal or review. Your attorney will discuss what you can do and how to go about it.

Seek Out Legal Counsel Today

Trying to get things done without a driver’s license is difficult. In rural areas, it can be almost impossible. From going to work to buy groceries, to going to court, to picking up your kids from school, you need a vehicle to do so many things in your life. If you have had your license suspended you may be able to request DMV to reinstate it. But doing so is challenging and can be intimidating. And if you do it wrong, you may make your situation worse. Don’t go at it alone. Instead, stack the cards in your favor. Hire a good lawyer and do everything in your power to get the DMV to decide in your favor. With Wilson, Lackey, Rohr & Hall P.C. on your side, you will have an experienced legal team that will go the distance with you. To start the process of getting your license back, or keeping it, contact us at 828-758-9110 right away.