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Burden of Proof in DC Administrative Hearings

The following is information on what needs to be be proven in an administrative hearing in DC. If you have an upcoming hearing, call a DC DUI lawyer today and schedule a free consultation as soon as possible.

Is The Burden of Proof The Same In An Administrative Hearing as in a Criminal Case?

No its not. It’s a lesser burden. In a criminal case, the entire offense must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a very high legal standard, the highest one in our legal system. Any rational thought that would make a person feel that the defendant didn’t commit the offense should be enough to prevent a guilty verdict in a criminal trial.

Whereas at the DMV, it’s what’s called clear and convincing evidence, which is a lesser standard. It’s somewhere between the criminal “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard and the traditional civil “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which is more likely than not.

So clear and convincing is somewhere between more likely than not, 50 percent plus one likely, and beyond a reasonable doubt which is nearly one hundred percent sure. Most people would say that it is closer to beyond a reasonable doubt than the preponderance of the evidence.

Are The Rules of Evidence The Same in A Revocation Hearing?

No, they are relaxed. For example, one important rule of evidence is the prohibition on hearsay. A person can’t offer testimony of what somebody else said out of court to prove the truth of what is asserted. However, at the DMV, police officers are usually permitted to offer hearsay, such as what another officer wrote in a police report.

Usually one officer comes to the hearing but he can talk about what the other police officers wrote on the police report, things like that. Generally the administrative hearings are somewhat more informal and less rigidly procedural than a criminal trial is.

What Types of Evidence Will An Individual Be Able to Present in Order to Refute The Revocation?

Whatever evidence they can gather. For example, maybe in the course of the criminal case, that person’s lawyer has found a video camera of the field sobriety tests that shows what the police officer said happened didn’t actually happen.

That would be great evidence that you can bring to the DMV in video format and play for the hearing examiner and say “Look, I walked in a straight line. I didn’t fall off. I stood on one foot. Whatever the officers told me to do, I had no problem.”

That’s great evidence. There could be mitigating evidence; there can be all different kinds of evidence. It’s really going to vary from arrest to arrest.

What Are The Most Common Ways To Build a Defense For License Revocation?

Again, it’s going to vary from situation to situation. Generally speaking, in cases where the revocation is being based on a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer, then I might be building a case against administration of the breathalyzer, saying that it’s not that the person refused, but the officer didn’t operate the machinery correctly or that the person wasn’t trying to refuse, the person was asking for a lawyer and they weren’t aware of the fact that they weren’t entitled to a lawyer as far as the breathalyzer went.

And in a lot of those cases, essentially what we’re fighting for is mitigation rather than a complete win. So instead of a person getting his license revoked for a year or two maybe I can limit it to six months. In other cases, I’m often trying to just attack the sufficiency of the government’s evidence. I’d say, “Look, you honor, there might be a little bit of evidence here that the person was operating a vehicle while on alcohol or drugs. But there isn’t clear and convincing evidence.

We’re going to try and poke holes in the government’s case. We’re going to try and mitigate the worst facts in the government’s case. And we’re going to try and present evidence we have that we can find to limit or give a different explanation for the driver’s behavior that could also be explained by alcohol. But, it’s going to vary significantly depending on the circumstances of the arrest.