Whenever the Nevada DMV seeks to suspend your driver's license because of a DUI arrest or too many demerit points or for any other reason, you have the right to contest the suspension by way of a DMV Administrative Hearing. It is separate from your criminal court case. But it is just like a regular trial where you or your attorney can call witnesses and present evidence. Below we explain everything you need to know about DMV hearings in Nevada.
What are Nevada DMV hearings?
If the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has suspended, revoked or denied you a driver's license, you have the right to a "DMV hearing" to oppose the sanction. DMV hearings in Las Vegas are just like mini-trials. A judge presides. You or your attorney can present evidence, cross-examine witnesses and make arguments.
Relation to criminal cases
Whenever you are arrested for DUI, DUI causing injury or death, vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide, it opens two cases: 1) a criminal case, and 2) a DMV administrative case. The criminal case is what determines guilt or innocence and can potentially result in fines, DUI School and jail time. The DMV case concerns only a possible drivers license suspension or revocation, and you do not have to have a hearing if you do not want to.
Another difference between Nevada DMV hearings and regular criminal cases is that DMV hearings are much harder to win. Criminal cases require the prosecutor to prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." In DMV cases, by contrast, the state needs to meet only a "preponderance of the evidence" standard.
Note that a person who wins a DMV hearing will still have his/her license suspended if he/she then gets convicted of a DUI in criminal court. But it is still worth trying to a win a DMV hearing as long as there is a chance that the criminal case may result in no DUI conviction (and hence no license suspension).
Are Nevada DMV hearings really worth the trouble?
Yes. Even though DMV cases are difficult to win, they can be very useful for two reasons.
- If the police officers do not show up to your hearing, you will generally win by default! This happens in a surprisingly high number of DMV hearings stemming from Las Vegas DUI arrests. Often the arresting officer forgets to come to the hearing, or is unavailable for some other reason and blows it off. If so, the judge will immediately dismiss the DMV case and you will keep your license.
- DMV hearings are an invaluable opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officers on the record. A good Las Vegas DUI lawyer will take full advantage of this, getting the cop to admit mistakes in the investigations, and factors pointing toward the client's sobriety. The lawyer may then get a transcript of this testimony, and later use it as leverage in litigating the drunk driving case in court.
When and how do I get a Nevada DMV hearing?
Your deadline for requesting a DMV hearing depends on your type of case, and the process can be a little confusing and frustrating (like everything is with the DMV). As soon as you are arrested for a DUI or for any other traffic offense in Las Vegas that jeopardizes your driver's license, it is important you retain an attorney right away to handle the matter correctly and to preserve your right to a hearing.
DMV hearings usually occur four to seven months after the initial arrest. For a copy of the DMV request form, click here.
If an officer suspects you of driving under the influence in Las Vegas, you may elect to take a breath or blood test. Which one you choose determines when you or your attorney should request a DMV hearing:
Nevada DUI breath test
If you take a Nevada DUI breath test and the Nevada BAC results read .08 or higher, the cop will confiscate your license right away and give you a temporary permit. You or your attorney then has seven (7) days to request a hearing. Once you do, the DMV prepares you a temporary license that you may pick up a couple of days later.
Nevada DUI blood test
If you take a Nevada DUI blood test, you will keep your license until the results come back. This can take three or more months. If the BAC is .08 or higher, you will be mailed a notice of license suspension. At that point you or your attorney must request a hearing as well as a temporary license (which will stay valid pending the DMV hearing's outcome).
If you ever accumulate twelve or more demerit points within a twelve-month period, the DMV can suspend your driver's license for six months. The DMV will send you a notice of suspension and instructions on how to request a hearing to contest the suspension.
Does it cost money to have a DMV hearing in Nevada?
The DMV does not charge money to hold a DMV Hearing. So your only costs will be fees to your attorney.
What are Nevada DMV hearings like?
Las Vegas DMV hearings are typically held in small rooms with a judge presiding. They are usually open to the public, and the entire proceeding will be audio recorded.
During the hearing, all witnesses will be placed under oath. Attorneys may question and cross-examine witnesses and present physical evidence, statutes and case law. At the end of the proceeding, the judge may issue a ruling immediately or may decide to delay his/her opinion for 30 days.
Like in any courtroom, attendees are expected to dress appropriately and not be disruptive.
Where are Nevada DMV hearings held?
Currently there are three DMV offices in Las Vegas, Carson City and Elko that hold administrative hearings. Your hearing will typically take place in the location nearest your place of residence. The addresses and contact information for these three offices are:
2701 E. Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104
555 Wright Way
Carson City, NV 89711
3920 E. Idaho St.
Elko, NV 89801
We are here to help . . . .
If you have been arrested for DUI or another traffic violation that jeopardizes your driver's license, call our Las Vegas drunk driving defense lawyers at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We know how important your license is to your livelihood, and we will do everything possible to help you keep it.
See our article about medically-restricted licenses in Nevada.
For more on California DMV hearings, go to our page on California DMV hearings.