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Administrative Review Hearing in Rhode Island

The division of motor vehicles has the authority to suspend driving licenses without a preliminary hearing as long as it shows that the driver 1) has been adjudicated by a court, which determined that the driver has committed an offense that resulted in mandatory revocation or suspension of license; committed frequent offenses against traffic regulations; was a reckless or negligent driver of the vehicle; unlawfully or fraudulently used the license; and committed an offense in another state that would be grounds for suspension or revocation in that state, and the driver 2) poses an imminent safety risk to the general public according to objective standards.

The suspension will not exceed a year, but the division of motor vehicles will determine the necessary order to protect public safety based on the totality of the circumstances of the offense committed, likelihood of recurrence, and the effect of the punishment on the individual so that he or she would be reasonably expected to have hardship from the punishment.

Once the division of motor vehicles suspends a driver’s license, it must notify the licensee in writing of the factual and legal basis for the suspension, the procedure for requesting a hearing, and the rights afforded to the individual. If the driver requests a hearing, the division of motor vehicles must afford the individual an opportunity for a hearing as early as possible—not later than 20 days after the receipt of the request. Overall, the division of motor vehicles must afford a hearing to the driver before suspending his or her license.

The hearing procedures must provide for 1) an in-person hearing before an impartial judge, 2) the opportunity to compel the production of documents and witnesses, 3) the opportunity to conform and cross-examine witnesses, 4) access to all the evidence the division of motor vehicles relies on to suspend the drivers, and 5) the right to present any and all relevant evidence including the right to obtain and present the results of a recently administered road test. The administrator of the division of motor vehicles or an authorized agent may administer oaths, request witnesses and produce relevant books and papers, and require a reexamination of the licensee. After the hearing, the division of motor vehicles must issue a written decision based on the evidence presented at the hearing and containing the legal and factual basis for the determination. The division of motor vehicles may take back its order of suspension, continue, modify, or extend the suspension of the license, or may revoke the license. In the end, the division of motor vehicles has the burden of proof to show the grounds for suspension.

Any driver who is unsatisfied by the order of the administrator of the division of motor vehicles may appeal the order to the 6th division of the district court by filing a petition that states the grounds of the appeal within 10 days from the date the notice has been sent to the person informing him or her about the order. The fee to file the petition is $25, and the court must give the division of motor vehicles 30 days to handle the pendency of the hearing by serving the administrator with a certified copy of the petition. When reviewing the petition/appeal, the court may review the evidence taken at the hearing or other information upon which the administrator’s action was taken and use its discretion to affirm, overrule, or modify the order of the administrator of the division of motor vehicles.


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