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Administrative Review Hearing in Connecticut

According to statute, the DMV may suspend the license of any person arrested for DUI.  These administrative suspensions are separate from any suspensions imposed by the court following a conviction for DUI.  The driver is given notice of the suspension and the ability to request a hearing.

During the hearing, the driver is permitted to have an attorney present.  He may call and examine witnesses.  However, in order to call a law enforcement officer as a witness, the driver must subpoena the officer no less than seventy-two (72) hours before the hearing.  The officer presiding over the hearing is only permitted to answer four questions:

  1. Did the law enforcement officer have probable cause to arrest the driver for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
  2. Was the driver placed under arrest?
  3. Did the driver refuse the blood alcohol tests?  OR  Did the driver take the tests within 2 hours of operating a vehicle and have a blood alcohol which met or exceeded the legal limit?
  4. Was the driver operating a motor vehicle?

If the answer to all four questions is yes, the presiding officer must sustain the suspension.  If the answer to any of the questions is no, the suspension is lifted.

The decision of the DMV can be appealed, though it is difficult for the appeal to be successful.  The DMV hearing is administrative and governed by a particular set of laws, called the “Uniform Administrative Procedure Act”.  These laws allow the use of more flexible rules of evidence and limit review on appeal.  The reasonable doubt standard is not used at the hearing.  The substantial evidence standard is used instead.  This means that a suspension will be upheld if there is substantial evidence that the answer to each of the four questions above is yes.  Finally, in order to prevail on appeal, the driver of the car must show that officer presiding over the hearing “acted contrary to law and in abuse of his discretion” when the officer found that the answer to one or more of the above questions was yes.


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