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DMV Hearings & Court Hearings: Understanding the Difference

You were pulled over for a DUI, reckless driving, or speeding, and you have now received a letter stating you have to go to a DMV hearing before you ever go to court. If you have never had to deal with a DMV hearing, this letter may come as a surprise. Take a look at some of the things you likely want to know about the differences between a DMV hearing and a court hearing after a driving-related charge. 

What is the difference between a DMV hearing and a court hearing?

A DMV hearing is held by the DMV, and the court system doesn't have anything to do with this part of your case. The specific purpose of this hearing is to determine what your punishment will be for the charges you are facing. It is not the DMV's place to decide your guilt, and the DMV cannot send you to jail for an offense. Instead, they are only there to come up with what will happen to your driving privileges. 

Can you defend yourself in a DMV hearing as you can in court?

Just like in court, you can hire an attorney who will work to defend you during your DMV hearing. Because this hearing has nothing to do with the actual charges you face and more to do with the repercussions for your driving allowances, this attorney will not be defending your charge; they will only be speaking on your behalf to help prevent driver's license suspension. For example, if the DMV is recommending a 90-day suspension of your driving privileges, the attorney can work to defend you so you do not have to be without a license for quite as long. In a sense, the attorney acts a lot like a negotiator in the hearings to get you the most reasonable punishment for the crime or violation in question. 

Can a DMV decision be overturned if you are proved innocent in court?

If you are given a harsh punishment by the DMV, such as a year-long suspension of your driver's license and expensive fines, and then you are later proven innocent for your charges in court, you may have to revisit the DMV for another hearing. It is possible to get DMV decision overturned if your outcome in court is positive and you are found to be not guilty of whatever offense you were charged with. 

Contact a DMV hearing lawyer for more information.