Maryland MVA Hearing Attorney | Shayan Modarres
As a Maryland lawyer, I regularly handle Maryland DUI cases and defend clients at MVA hearing. If you haven’t already read the Maryland DUI page, click here to read about the time requirement to request an MVA hearing (usually 10 days). Once you’ve requested an MVA hearing in writing and paid the appropriate fee (usually $150.00 made payable to the Maryland State Treasurer), a hearing date will be mailed to you.
There are a few differences between the MVA Administrative Hearing and the Maryland DUI criminal phase before a criminal court:
- The MVA Administrative hearing is in front of an Administrative Law Judge or ALJ at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). These hearings are held across the state of Maryland.
- Although the judge is not in the traditional black robe, they should be afforded the same respect and treated the same. They are a neutral and detached and not employed by the MVA, but rather are an entirely separate and neutral agency.
- The ALJ does not have as much discretion as a judge in the criminal phase will have, and they are restricted in the issues that they may decide. This is explained in further detail below.
- The MVA will not have a prosecutor or officers present, rather their case is transmitted to the MVA by and through documents, which will be introduced into the record as evidence (unless a valid objection is raised).
- You will have an opportunity (through your attorney) to challenge the sufficiency of the MVA’s case and documents, and you will also have an opportunity to present your own evidence.
- If you do not agree with the ALJ’s decision, you have 30 days to appeal the decision to the appropriate Circuit Court in your County.
What Issues are Decided by the MVA ALJ?
The ALJ will decide a number of issues during the course of the MVA Hearing, which are enumerated in the Maryland Transportation Article § 16-205.1(f)(7), and was reiterated in a 2004 case, Motor Vehicle Administration v. Jones . These include:
1. Whether the police officer who stops or detains a person had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol, while impaired by alcohol, while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person could not drive a vehicle safely, while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance, in violation of an alcohol restriction, or in violation of § 16-813 of this title;
2. Whether there was evidence of the use by the person of alcohol, any drug, any combination of drugs, a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, or a controlled dangerous substance;
3. Whether the police officer requested a test after the person was fully advised of the administrative sanctions that shall be imposed, including the fact that a person who refuses to take the test is ineligible for modification of a suspension or issuance of a restrictive license under subsection (n)(1) and (2) of this section;
4. Whether the person refused to take the test;
5. Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at the time of testing; or
6. If the hearing involves disqualification of a commercial driver’s license, whether the person was operating a commercial motor vehicle.
(ii) The sworn statement of the police officer and of the test technician or analyst shall be prima facie evidence of a test refusal or a test resulting in an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at the time of testing.”
If the Administrative Law Judge makes the following 4 findings, under § 16-205.1(f)(8)(i), your license will be suspended:
1. The police officer who stopped or detained the person had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol, while impaired by alcohol, while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person could not drive a vehicle safely, while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance, in violation of an alcohol restriction, or in violation of § 16-813 of this title;
2. There was evidence of the use by the person of alcohol, any drug, any combination of drugs, a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, or a controlled dangerous substance;
3. The police officer requested a test after the person was fully advised of the administrative sanctions that shall be imposed, including the fact that a person who refuses to take the test is ineligible for modification of a suspension or issuance of a restrictive license under subsection (n)(1) and (2) of this section; and
4. A. The person refused to take the test; or
B. A test to determine alcohol concentration was taken and the test result indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more at the time of testing.
**The legislative purpose of § 16-205.1 was written to primarily protect the public, not to protect the accused. Motor Vehicle Administration v. Richards, 356 Md. 373 (1999).**
What are my Defenses and the Penalties that I Face at the MVA Hearing?
First, bring your temporary license and license extension with you to the MVA hearing. Here’s a list of some common defenses that are raised at the MVA Administrative Hearing which could result in a “No Action” against you and your driving privileges being reinstated:
- No notice in the DR-15A form
- The officer’s statement lack material elements under 16-205.1
- The officer violated the 4th Amendment when stopping you for a Maryland DUI
- The stop occurred on private property
- The officer lacked jurisdiction where the stop was conducted
- The officer’s statement was not made under oath
- The officer failed to advise the driver fully of his/her rights per the DR-15 form
- The breath test operator failed to follow the regulations for the EC/IR II intoxilizer device
- The breath test was within the Maryland DUI margin of error
- Insufficient breath
- The officer did not denote that the driver indicated signs of alcohol consumption before being read DR-15 Advice of Rights and given the option to submit to a breath test or refuse
Penalties for a breath test result of a .08 to .14 BAC
If you blew between .08 and .14, you are eligible for a restricted driver’s license at the MVA Hearing UNLESS YOU HAVE A PRIOR ALCOHOL RELATED CONVICTION OR LOSS OF LICENSE WITHIN THE LAST 5 YEARS. Under the law effective October 2011, you are eligible to install the Ignition Interlock in your vehicle and avoid the 90–day outright suspension of your license by enrolling in the Interlock Program without attending an MVA hearing. The Interlock program is effective for one year. You have to first get the Interlock installed in your vehicle AND go to the MVA to get your new Interlock Restricted Driver’s License. After the Interlock 1 year period is over, you can return to the MVA to get a new license without the Interlock restriction.
Under the new law, if you fail to ask for a Hearing and the 90– day suspension begins, you can get the Interlock installed and start the one–year interlock period. This does not apply if you request a Hearing and get a suspension at the Hearing. The MVA will not overrule a decision imposed by an ALJ.
If you’re eligible for a restricted “business purposes only” license, you must also show that a license suspension will have an adverse effect on your ability to sustain and maintain your continued employment and to complete treatment. You can do this by bringing proof of employment with you to the hearing (pay stubs, business card, or letter from your employer). If you are in school, bring proof of your enrollment. If you drive your employer’s vehicle, bring a letter from your employer authorizing you to drive the employer’s vehicle and stating that your job will be terminated if you are not allowed to drive the company vehicle. If your suspension is not modified by the ALJ, you may face a suspension.
Breath Results of .15 or above, refusals, or a subsequent .08-.14 breath offense within 5 years
You will not be eligible for a restricted “business purposes only” license and you will face a 180 day suspension for the first offense and a 1 year suspension for a subsequent offense. You will be limited to the Interlock option on any vehicles that you drive, at the discretion of the ALJ (they don’t have to allow you to take advantage of the Interlock, they can just suspend your driving privilege). If you drive a company vehicle, you can be exempted from having interlock installed on the company vehicle if you bring a letter from your employer stating that you’re authorized to drive the company vehicle without an Interlock, the employer is aware of the DUI and the employer authorized you to continue driving a company vehicle, and that your job will be terminated if you’re not allowed to drive the employer vehicle.
** IN ALL CASES, BE SURE TO ENROLL IN A COURT-APPROVED ALCOHOL TREATMENT PROGRAM AND BRING PROOF OF PARTICIPATION IN THE PROGRAM WITH YOU** We have a list of court-approved programs that you can enroll in, call us at (407) 408-0494
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