I recently had my hearing, and before we even started, I asked if I could have an attorney present? She said, "No, it's to late, I should've brought one when I came." We never having to deal with this and it not stating in my letter that I had the right, I didn't know. We proceeded and I felt backed into a corner and refused to answer anymore questions without an attorney. She and as she claims her supervisor denied me again, stating it was to late. Well since then, they sent me a letter suspending my license for another year 20 days short of getting the interlock box out. Since the hearing is over and they've sent my letter can I hire an attorney to appeal it in an actual court of law. The whole thing is bogus and I really felt that I did not get my right to a fair trial.
A DMV hearing is a civil matter, therefore, you do not have the "right" to an attorney such that one would be appointed if you could not afford one--that only occurs in the context of a criminal case. That being said, any person you can hire an attorney to represent them at any time for almost any matter. The DMV probably does not have the responsibility to tell a person that they can hire a lawyer.
The mere fact you didn't hire a lawyer to help you because you didn't realize you could or should have, is not a strong reason to appeal. The hearing examiner could have granted you a continuance for a few weeks to get a lawyer, but a continuance is in his or her discretion. Since you didn't act in a timely manner to hire an attorney before the hearing, you probably won't prevail on that issue.
However, there may be other issues that would give you a stronger stance on appeal. Don't delay, though! Get an appellate attorney to review the case for you. Order a CD of the hearing recording from the DMV right away. The attorney will need to listen to it to discover any due process violations.
This answer is my personal opinion, offered for informational purposes only. It is not a legal opinion, nor is it legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with anyone reading it.
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