Nevada DMV hearings are administrative proceedings to determine whether a person arrested for DUI will sustain a driver’s license suspension. DMV hearings are separate from the criminal court case, and defendants must win both in order to avoid a license suspension.
If defendants request a DMV hearing within seven days of being notified about their suspension, they can usually continue driving pending the hearing results.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What are DMV hearings in Nevada?
- 2. How are they different from criminal trials?
- 3. Can I keep driving before the DMV hearing?
- 4. When can I request a DMV hearing?
- 5. How do I request one?
- 6. Where do they take place?
- 7. How long will my license be suspended if I lose?
- 8. Can I get DMV hearings in non-DUI cases?
- 9. How much do DMV hearings cost?
- 10. Are they worth doing?
1. What are DMV hearings in Nevada?
DMV hearings are mini-trials that all Nevada drivers license-holders are entitled to before the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend their license. For example, people arrested for driving under the influence can request a DMV hearing to contest the mandatory license suspension that DUI cases trigger.1
DMV hearings are not mandatory. But waiving a DMV hearing will eliminate any chance that the defendant can keep his/her license.
DMV hearings are usually open to the public, and the entire proceeding gets audio recorded. An administrative law judge presides and places all witnesses under oath. The defendant or his/her criminal defense 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 an opinion for 30 days. Like in any courtroom, attendees are expected to dress appropriately and not be disruptive.
2. How are they different from criminal trials?
Every DUI arrest in Nevada opens two separate cases:
- The criminal court case, and
- The administrative DMV case.
The criminal court can impose jail time and fines. But all the DMV can do is suspend the person’s driving privileges.
Criminal trials are actually easier to win than DMV hearings. Prosecutors in criminal trials have the high burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In contrast, the DMV just has to find some evidence that the defendant drove drunk or high or had illegal blood levels of drugs or alcohol.
Note that defendants have to win both the DMV hearing and the criminal DUI case in order to avoid a license suspension. Winning just one and losing the other will still result in a revoked license.2
3. Can I keep driving before the DMV hearing?
Defendants will be allowed to drive pending the results of the DMV hearing as long as they requested the hearing within seven days of being notified about the suspension.3
DMV hearings usually occur four to seven months after the initial arrest.
4. When can I request a DMV hearing?
If DUI arrestees elect to take a breath test instead of a blood test, the police officer will confiscate their license right away and issue them a temporary permit. The defendants (or their attorneys) then have seven days to request a hearing and temporary license. Once the hearing is requested, the defendant can then pick up a temporary license from the DMV office to drive with until the hearing.
DUI arrestees who take a blood test get to keep their license until the blood alcohol content (BAC) results come back at 0.08% or higher. The testing can take several weeks or months.
The DMV will mail the defendant the results and a notice of license suspension, which gives the defendant a week to request a DMV hearing. The notice has instructions on how to request the hearing and a temporary license so that the defendant can continue driving pending the hearing results.4
5. How do I request one?
DUI defendants – or their attorneys – can request a DMV hearing by submitting DMV form IVP-005. Note that when DUI defendants elect to take a breath test, the police will provide them instructions on how to request a DMV hearing. For DUI defendants who take a blood test, the DMV will mail them instructions along with the test results.
6. Where do they take place?
DMV hearings take place at the Office of Administrative Hearings. There are three locations in Nevada:
2701 E. Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104
555 Wright Way
Carson City, NV 89711
3920 E. Idaho St.
Elko, NV 89801
But defendants and their attorneys can usually attend these hearings telephonically.
7. How long will my license be suspended if I lose?
The license suspension period for DUI defendants who lose their DMV hearing increases with each successive case:
||Length of Nevada driver’s license revocation|
|First-time offense (within 7 years)||185 days, though it may be possible to drive immediately with an ignition interlock device.|
|Second-time offense (within 7 years)||1 year.|
|Third-time offense (within 7 years) or any other felony DUI||3 years, though defendants may be able to drive after 1 year with an ignition interlock device.5|
Remember that DUI defendants who win their DMV hearing but lose their criminal case still face the above suspension periods.
8. Can I get DMV hearings in non-DUI cases?
Yes. DMV hearings are available to anyone who faces a license suspension. For instance, accruing 12 or more demerit points from moving traffic violations in a single year triggers a six-month license suspension. Note that people may be able to remove three demerit points from their driving record by completing a traffic safety course.6
9. How much do DMV hearings cost?
There is no charge for having a DMV hearing. If the defendant hires a defense attorney, the defendant will then just have to pay attorney fees.
10. Are they worth doing?
Yes. Even though DMV hearings are difficult to win, they are useful for two reasons:
- If the police officer(s) from the case do not show up to the hearing, the defendant will generally win by default. Then the judge will immediately dismiss the DMV case.
- DMV hearings are an invaluable opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officers on the record. A good DUI lawyer will take full advantage of this, getting the officer to admit mistakes in the investigations and any 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 criminal court.
In California? Learn about California DMV hearings.
In Colorado? Learn about Colorado DMV hearings.
- NRS 484C.230; NRS 483.460.
- See Beavers v. Department of Motor Vehicles & Pub. Safety, (1993) 109 Nev. 435, 851 P.2d 432; see Wright v. State DMV, (2005) 121 Nev. 122, 110 P.3d 1066; NAC 483.8485; NRS 484C.220.
- NRS 484C.230; NAC 483.8485.
- See NRS 484C.180; NRS 484C.220.
- NRS 483.460.
- NRS 483.448.