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Understanding License Revocation Hearings in Maryland: What to Expect and How to Prepare

April 30, 2024
Cyndi Christiani

When you get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or refusing a breath test in Maryland, your driver’s license is subject to an automatic suspension. To protect your license, you may want to request a license revocation hearing at the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA).

Requesting a License Revocation Hearing with the Maryland MVA After a DUI Arrest

You only have 10 days from the receipt of a DR-15A Order of Suspension to request a hearing following a DUI arrest in Maryland. If you don’t request a hearing in time, you will lose your driving privileges before your DUI trial (unless you voluntarily enroll in the Ignition Interlock program). Requesting a hearing doesn’t guarantee that you will retain your ability to drive, but it does allow you to fight to protect your driver’s license.

With this in mind, once you request a license revocation hearing, you should begin preparing promptly with the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney. When your hearing date arrives, you must be prepared to clearly demonstrate why a suspension of your driving privileges is unwarranted. Of course, your defense attorney can also represent you during your DUI trial, and hiring an experienced attorney to handle your MVA hearing and your DUI trial will give you the best opportunity to minimize the consequences of your arrest.

What to Expect During a License Revocation Hearing at the MVA

A license revocation hearing at the MVA is very different from a DUI trial. First, while a prosecutor presents the state’s evidence at trial, prosecutors aren’t involved in license revocation hearings. Instead, an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the MVA’s Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) simply reviews the records from the defendant’s arrest—along with any evidence presented by the defendant or the defendant’s attorney.

Second, while DUI trials require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, license revocation hearings are subject to the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that the ALJ only needs to conclude that it is more likely than not that the defendant was driving under the influence or unlawfully refused the breath test in order to impose a license suspension or revocation.

During your license revocation hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence that questions the MVA’s evidence. This evidence can take a variety of forms, and you will want to work closely with your attorney to determine how best to approach your hearing in light of the facts at hand. We discuss this in greater detail in the section on preparing for your MVA license revocation hearing below.

At the end of your license revocation hearing, the ALJ will determine whether a suspension or revocation is warranted. If the ALJ allows you to keep your driver’s license, this will typically be the end of the administrative process—though you will still need to fight to protect your driver’s license (and avoid other penalties) at your DUI trial. If the ALJ revokes or suspends your driver’s license, your options will include:

  • Accepting your driver’s license suspension;
  • Requesting a modified suspension or restricted license (if you are eligible); or,
  • Filing an appeal (which you must do within 30 days).

Your attorney will be able to help you determine which of these options makes the most sense if necessary. Regardless of the facts of your case, a favorable outcome is not guaranteed, so it is important that you do everything you can to help give yourself the best chance of protecting your driver’s license.

Preparing for Your MVA License Revocation Hearing After a DUI Arrest

To give yourself the best chance of protecting your driver’s license, you will want to prepare for your MVA license revocation hearing thoroughly. There are several steps you can take to prepare, including (but not limited to):

1. Engaging an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney to Represent You

Given the risks involved with facing a license revocation hearing and a DUI trial, it is strongly in your best interests to engage an experienced defense attorney as soon after your arrest as possible. An experienced DUI defense attorney will be intimately familiar with the MVA hearing process and the types of evidence that can be used to help protect your driver’s license.

2. Reviewing the Facts of Your Case with Your Attorney

Once you hire an attorney to represent you, one of your first steps will be to sit down with your attorney and review the facts of your case. To build an effective defense strategy, you need to have a clear understanding of all relevant facts—both favorable and unfavorable. Once you know what you’re up against, then you can decide how best to proceed.

3. Determining What Evidence is Already Available to the MVA

Another key step involves determining what evidence is already available to the MVA. Based on the evidence that the ALJ will be reviewing during your hearing, you can determine what additional evidence is needed to protect your ability to drive.  

4. Gathering Additional Evidence that Supports Your Defense

As we mentioned above, there are several types of evidence you can present at an MVA license revocation hearing. Depending on the facts of your case, you (or your attorney) may be able to present evidence such as:

  • Evidence that calls into question whether you were driving under the influence at the time of your arrest  
  • Evidence that suggests you did not unlawfully refuse the breath test
  • Testimony from witnesses
  • A letter from your employer or your school transcript
  • Evidence of a lack of viable public transportation

5. Preparing to Testify at Your MVA License Revocation Hearing

Depending on the facts of your case, it may also make sense for you to testify at your MVA license revocation hearing. If testifying is in your best interests, your attorney will help you thoroughly prepare so that you know exactly what to say (and what not to say) when your hearing date arrives.

Schedule a Confidential Initial Consultation with an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney

If you would like to know more about how to protect your driver’s license after a DUI arrest in Maryland, we encourage you to contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation.