The rules of evidence in administrative hearings are not the same as criminal proceedings. The formal rules of evidence that are applied in DC Superior Court are set by DC law. However, these rules are not applied at the DC DMV. For example, hearsay, which is an out of court statement introduced as proof of the truth of what it asserts, is admissible in a DMV hearing.
For example, when two officers make an arrest and one of the officers conducts the questioning and completes the police report, and then the other officer comes to testify at the DMV by reading the first officer’s report, this would be considered hearsay at the DC Superior Court. However, at the DMV, the officer can offer this as testimony on behalf of his fellow officer because of the relaxed rules of evidence.
Evidence to refute a suspension will vary from case to case. However, a driver can use different types of evidence to demonstrate they were not impaired by drugs or alcohol. Evidence can be, among other things:
For the most part, evidence will either take the form of witness testimony or physical evidence which may include things like the defendant’s receipt from a restaurant showing he had nothing to drink while there.
There is no particular defense that a person can use to prevent having their license revoked in DC. Unlike, in a criminal assault trial where a person can offer the defense of self-defense to defend themselves from a charge, a revocation hearing is different. There are no defenses to a DUI. The government can either prove by clear and convincing evidence that the person was appreciably impaired by alcohol or drugs while driving a car or they cannot. The defendant’s conduct cannot be excused or justified. The person was either impaired or not.
The burden of proof in DUI license suspension hearings is different from criminal proceedings. In a criminal case, the prosecutor has to prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In those cases the standard is very high because a person’s liberty is on the line. If convicted, the person can go to jail.
The standard at the DMV is lower because the person’s liberty is not on the line, nor is any other constitutionally protected right at jeopardy. Instead the standard is clear and convincing evidence, which is lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecutor must provide evidence that would create a firm belief in the judge’s mind or make the judge very certain that the offense occurred.
However, clear and convincing is a higher standard than the preponderance of the evidence that is used in many civil trials. This standard means that the judge must believe more likely than not or 50 percent plus 1 likely that the crime occurred. Basically, clear and convincing is somewhere between the other two standards.
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