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What Is An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)?
An ALJ is an attorney appointed by the Chief ALJ to conduct administrative hearings. ALJs are employees of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), not an employee of the agency involved in your case. The ALJ is charged with making sure that you have a fair, impartial and independent opportunity to be heard on the issue(s) in question.
What is an administrative hearing?
An administrative hearing is an opportunity to appear before an ALJ to obtain an objective review of the agency action at issue. The ALJ is responsible for reviewing the relevant law and facts, based on evidence presented at the hearing, and making a determination as to whether the agency action complied with applicable law. As a result of the hearing, the ALJ will issue either a proposed or final decision, depending upon the authority delegated to the OAH by the agency.
How Does The Administrative Hearings Process Work?
Whenever a State agency takes an administrative action, the affected person receives notice. This notice of agency action must include the pertinent statutory and regulatory sections under which the agency is taking its action. It also must provide information regarding what, if anything, a person must do to receive a hearing. Anyone who decides to request a hearing must do so within the time frames set forth in the notice.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a method of dispute resolution where a neutral third party, the mediator, meets with the parties to a dispute to facilitate a resolution. Mediation is voluntary. Mediation is a less costly method of resolving your dispute. If you would like to request mediation, please contact the docket specialist listed on your hearing notice. Can I settle my case without a hearing?
The parties are encouraged to discuss settling the case prior to the hearing. Such discussions do not involve the ALJ who will hear the case. However, the parties may ask that a different ALJ be assigned to conduct a settlement conference or mediation to assist the parties in their discussions. The settlement ALJ will not discuss your case with the hearing ALJ. Settlement discussions are not good cause for postponing a scheduled hearing.
I Need An Interpreter. Is An Interpreter Provided?
An interpreter will be provided, at no cost to you, if you make a request prior to your hearing or mediation. If you need an interpreter, please contact the docket specialist listed on your hearing notice. Please make your request as far in advance of the hearing or mediation as possible.
Will The Hearing Be Accessible To People With Disabilities?
The OAH endeavors to ensure the accessibility of its hearings to all persons with disabilities. Should you, or anyone you expect to call as a witness, need special accommodations, please contact the docket specialist listed on your hearing notice as far in advance of the hearing as possible.
Will The Hearing Be Recorded?
Either an audiotape or a transcript is made of every hearing.
Can I Call An ALJ To Discuss My Case?
No person is allowed to talk to the ALJ about a case without the participation of all other parties to that case. If you have a matter that needs to be addressed by the ALJ prior to the hearing (e.g. a pending motion), please contact the ALJ's secretary to schedule a pre-hearing conference.
Can The Hearing Be Held Via Telephone or Video?
The hearing, or part of the hearing, may be conducted via telephone or video if each participant has an opportunity to participate in and hear the entire proceeding. If a party objects to the use of the telephone or video, he/she must establish good cause for the objection. If you would like all or part of your hearing conducted by telephone or video, contact the docket specialist listed on your hearing notice or the ALJ’s secretary.
Is There a Fee For Requesting A Hearing? Can My Hearing Fee Be Waived?
The OAH collects a filing fee in certain types of cases. The fees are $125.00 for MVA Suspension or Revocation cases and $50 for all other cases for which OAH charges a fee. The fee may be waived upon proof of indigence.
MVA HEARING DEFENSE
The Maryland MVA hearing is a hearing to determine if you keep or lose your driving license. If you are a Maryland resident, your license is at stake. If you hold a license from another state, your driving privileges in Maryland are at stake. You only get a hearing if you request one within specific time limits. For example, if you are arrested for a DUI and the officer gives you a notice of suspension because you either refused a breath test or scored too high on one, you have only 10 days to mail in your request for an MVA hearing. This is explained in detail on my MVA 10 Day Rule web page. If you fail to request the hearing within ten days your suspension will automatically start 46 days after your arrest.
Not all suspensions are created equal. There are different lengths of suspensions depending on, for example, whether the officer claims your test score was too high, you refused a test, you violated an alcohol restriction, you have been convicted of a drinking driving offense in court (even if you were convicted outside Maryland while driving on a Maryland license), you have an earlier drinking driving conviction, you license or privilege to drive has been suspended or revoked before, or you are a professional driver.
In some situations, you may be eligible for limited driving privileges instead of an absolute suspension. For example, you may be eligible for a modified suspension that would let you drive in order to commute to work, drive as part of your job duties, drive to participate in alcohol treatment or counseling sessions, or commute to school. In other situations, you may be eligible to drive only if the Administrative Law Judge who conducts your hearing determines that you are an appropriate candidate for the Ignition Interlock Program.
You may have a defense to the charge you face at the MVA hearing. The officer may not have followed the correct procedures in advising you what your rights were concerning the breath test, he may have disregarded your request to speak to an attorney before deciding whether to take the test, he may have coerced you into either taking the test or refusing to take it, he may have overstepped his authority and given you legal advice, or he may have misinterpreted to you the official documents you are entitled to receive concerning your rights. These are but a few of the errors that may result in dismissal of the MVA charges.
As you can see, the MVA hearing involves complex and technical issues. When I represent you on your case, we will consider every available defense in order to protect your driving privileges.
MOTOR VEHICLE ADMINISTRATION ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) has the authority to restrict, suspend or revoke your driving privileges. Prior to such action, they are required by law to give notice of the proposed action and advise you of your right to contest the restriction, suspension or revocation of your license by requesting an administrative hearing. In the context of DUI/DWI offenses, the driving privileges of persons submitting to tests for alcohol concentration that result in a reading of .08 or more, persons refusing tests for alcohol concentration, and persons violating alcohol restrictions and/or alcohol related restrictions are subject to administrative sanctions by the MVA.
If you submitted to a test for alcohol concentration that resulted in a reading of .08 or more, or if you refused a test for alcohol concentration, the arresting officer is required to confiscate your Maryland driver's license and issue an Officer's Certification and Order of Suspension. (If you are not a Maryland licensed driver, the officer cannot confiscate your valid out-of-state license.) This is a two-part form with the first part being a temporary driving privilege that expires on the 46th day from the date it was issued. The second part is a Hearing Request Copy.
To protect your continued driving privilege and contest the suspension of your license, you must request a hearing within 10 days from the date the Order of Suspension was issued! It is important you request a hearing immediately! You can contact our office and we will assist you in completing this request, or we will request the hearing on your behalf. We are available to assist you and protect your legal rights at this critical time!
Administrative sanctions imposed against your driving privilege by the MVA are separate and independent from the court proceeding for the DUI/DWI charge. They have no impact on the criminal prosecution. You could be found not guilty in court and have your license suspended by the MVA as a result of your submission to a test resulting in a reading of .08 or more, or your refusal to submit to a test for alcohol concentration. Or, you may avoid the suspension of your license at the MVA and be found guilty or receive a PBJ for the DUI/DWI charge in court.
TEST RESULTS OF .08 OR MORE
The driving privileges of persons submitting to a test for alcohol concentration that results in a reading of .08 or more are subject to suspension. For a first occasion, the suspension period is 45 days. For second or subsequent tests, the suspension period increases to 90 days. Suspension periods are subject to modification at the discretion of the MVA. You may be eligible to receive a license restricted to employment purposes and alcohol counseling/treatment in lieu of an outright suspension if you requested an administrative hearing to contest this action. Second and subsequent 90 day suspension periods that occur within a 5-year period are ineligible for any type of discretionary modification. You are ineligible for any modification of a proposed suspension or revocation unless a hearing is requested!
Suspension periods for refusing alcohol concentration tests are harsh: 120 days for a first refusal and 1 year for any second or subsequent refusal. If you requested a hearing, you may be eligible for modification of a suspension period by participating in the Ignition Interlock Program for a period of not less than 1 year. Participation in that program is a discretionary determination made by an Administrative Law Judge at a hearing. You are ineligible for any modification of a proposed suspension or revocation unless a hearing is requested!
VIOLATION OF A LICENSE RESTRICTION
In certain circumstances the MVA has the authority to impose license restrictions prohibiting a licensee from driving or attempting to drive while having alcohol in their blood. That restriction is automatically applied to the license of persons under the age of 21. The MVA can also restrict a licensee from driving unless operating a vehicle equipped with an Ignition Interlock device. When persons violate these restrictions, their license is subject to suspension or revocation. When you receive a notice from the MVA of a proposed action against your license stemming from a purported violation of a license restriction, it is important to immediately request a hearing! You are ineligible for any modification of a proposed suspension or revocation unless a hearing is requested!
CONVICTIONS OF DUI/DWI & ACCUMULATION OF POINTS
If you are found guilty of a DUI/DWI offense, these convictions are reported to the MVA and recorded on your Maryland driving record. Those convictions, as well as other moving traffic violations, result in a points assessment: 8 points for DWI and 12 points for DUI. An accumulation of 8 points subjects your license to a period of suspension, and an accumulation of 12 points could result in the revocation of your license. Upon receipt of a notice of these proposed actions against your privilege in Maryland, you will have 15 days to contest the action and request an administrative hearing. Again, it is important to immediately request a hearing! You are ineligible for any modification of a proposed suspension or revocation unless a hearing is requested!
The MVA may also require participation in the Ignition Interlock Program as a condition of continuing your driving privileges after receiving a DUI/DWI conviction. Durations for this requirement range from 6 to 24 months. If you are under the age of 21 and receive a conviction of DUI/DWI, the MVA can impose an Ignition Interlock restriction on your driving privileges for up to 3 years.
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