Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
Can I appeal if I lose my DMV hearing in Colorado?
Yes. You may appeal the Colorado DMV’s decision to suspend or revoke your driver’s license. The appeals process requires filing a complaint with the local district court within 35 days of the DMV hearing’s decision. Ultimately, the district court judge will review the DMV transcript and legal briefs to determine whether to affirm the DMV’s decision or to reinstate your driver’s license.
What is a Colorado DMV hearing?
DMV hearings are where you can contest the DMV‘s decision to suspend or revoke your licenses. If you are facing a license suspension or revocation, you are entitled to a hearing but must request the hearing. Otherwise, the DMV will automatically suspend your license without a hearing.
DMV hearings are administrative, not criminal. They are presided over by a hearing officer, not a criminal judge. While the DMV hearing is pending, you may continue driving.
Common reasons to request DMV hearings are because you are facing a license suspension or revocation following a DUI or from accruing too many demerit points. Even if you win a DUI criminal case, the DMV can still suspend your license.
How do I appeal?
There are five basic steps for appealing a Colorado DMV hearing decision:
Within 14 days of filing the complaint, send by certified mail a copy of the complaint, cover sheet, and Transcript Request Form to the Colorado DMV at Hearings Division, 1881 Pierce Street, STE 106, Lakewood, CO 80214. Also send a copy of the complaint and cover sheet to the Colorado Attorney General at 1300 Broadway, 10th Floor, Denver, CO 80203.
File a certificate of mailing with the district court, showing them that the DMV and attorney general have been notified. Meanwhile, the DMV will send the district court any exhibits from the DMV hearing, called the “record on review.”
Within 42 days of the record on review getting certified, compose and file with the court an opening brief. This contains all the arguments why the DMV’s decision should be overturned. Also give a copy to the prosecutor. The prosecutor then has 35 days to file an “answer brief” arguing to uphold the DMV decision. There are 21 days to file with the court a reply brief to rebut the prosecutor’s arguments. Give a copy of the reply brief to the prosecutor as well.
The district court judge will review the briefs and record on appeal and render a decision. If the court affirms the DMV’s decision, you can appeal the case once more to the Colorado Court of Appeals.
How much does it cost?
The filing fee for appealing a Colorado DMV decision is $224. However, you can ask the court to waive this fee by filing a motion to waive the fee and a proposed order along with the complaint.
Can I drive while my appeal is pending?
I would need to file a motion with the district court requesting a stay of the license suspension pending the appeal. If the district court grants the motion, you can continue driving until the appellate court decides.
On what grounds can I win a DMV appeal?
The district court judge will reverse the DMV decision and reinstate your license if it finds that either:
The hearing officer’s decision was arbitrary or capricious;
The hearing officer exceeded their legal authority;
The hearing officer misinterpreted the law (“mistake of law”); and/or
The hearing officer’s decision was not supported by evidence (“mistake of fact”)
Do I need an attorney?
Hiring experienced counsel when appealing a DMV hearing decision is highly recommended. I am skilled at composing appellate briefs showcasing all the ways a hearing officer erred. Plus, chances are higher that the district court judge will take the appeal seriously if an attorney wrote the briefs.
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.