Who are the people involved in a Refusal Hearing? There are at least three people involved. The first is the driver who has been dispossessed of his or her license after being accused of DWI but failed to provide a sample. The second is the Administrative Law Judge. The Judge is the decider of whether a refusal actually occurred under the law. The third is the officer who accused the driver of refusing to provide a sample. It is always recommended that the driver appear with an attorney as well. What is the refusal hearing? The refusal hearing is the opportunity of a motorist, who did not provide a chemical sample at the police station or hospital but has been accused of DWI, to be heard by the DMV concerning the revocation of his or her license as a consequence of such alleged refusal. When is a refusal hearing? Generally, refusal hearings must be scheduled and held within 15-days of the date the driver is dispossessed of his or her license. If the hearing is not held within 15-days, the driver is eligible for his or her license back from the DMV until the hearing is held. The paperwork the driver receives by the arraigning Judge states the time and date of the hearing. Where is a refusal hearing? The locations of the hearings are usually in public buildings, however, not necessarily the DMV. The form described above that states the time and date also states the location of the hearing. In some cases, the hearings are held in a neighboring county. Why are refusal hearings held? Refusal hearings are held because a person has been dispossessed of his or her privilege and license to drive a motor vehicle. Such dispossession has been found by the Courts of New York to require that Due Process be satisfied before such privilege and license is officially taken away due to state action. How do refusal hearings proceed? The hearing is opened by the Judge when both the driver and the officer appear for the hearing at the scheduled times. The officer testifies first because he or she has the burden of proof. It is his or her responsibility to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the driver intentionally refused to provide a sample. Once the officer has finished his or her direct testimony, the driver has the opportunity to cross-examine him or her. This cross-examination is important because it flushes out the facts that modify the understanding of the testimony he or she previously stated. Once that is completed, the driver then has the opportunity to testify as well. It is not necessary for the driver to testify or present any evidence. Next, the Judge hears the driver’s arguments that what has been described by the officer does not show that he or she actually or constructively refused to provide a sample. Last, the Judge determines whether a refusal actually occurred and either revokes the license or returns it. What does the officer have to establish? The officer is required to establish four things. First, he or she must establish that there was a lawful arrest of the accused driver. Second, he or she must establish that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the driver had been driving in violation of any offense listed in section 1192 of the Vehicle and Traffic law. Third, he or she must establish that the driver was given sufficient warning, in clear or unequivocal language, prior to such refusal that such refusal to submit to such chemical test or any portion thereof, would result in the immediate suspension and subsequent revocation of such person's license or operating privilege whether or not such person is found guilty of the charge for which the arrest was made. Last, he or she must establish that the driver refused to submit to such chemical test or any portion thereof. Why is appearing at refusal hearings important? Actually appearing at refusal hearings is important for a few reasons. The primary reason is because the driver is liable to lose his or her license to drive for a year from the date of the hearing. This also means that during the pending criminal charge in the court, he or she will not able to drive anywhere for any reason. There is no hardship or conditional license eligibility for people in that position. Second, the hearing is a great opportunity to get statements from the officer testifying under oath. Even if a refusal is found, the driver still has a finding of fact that can be used in the pending criminal charges. Third, if the driver appears at the hearing, but the officer does not, the driver gets his or her license back at least for the time between the first and rescheduled hearing. This takes a lot of pressure off the driver who needs to rely on others for rides everywhere while the criminal court charge is pending. Fourth, if the driver appears at the rescheduled hearing and the officer does not, there is a high chance that the DMV will find that no refusal occurred. What are some of the consequences of a refusal? The first consequence is the revocation of the driver’s license for one calendar year from the date of the hearing, not the date of the alleged refusal. The second consequence is the $500 DMV fee. The third is the ineligibility for a pre-conviction conditional license, which means that there is no driving until a conviction is entered. Fourth, there is no 20-day stay eligibility once the sentence is adjudicated. Fifth, completing the Impaired Driver Program through the DMV doesn’t terminate the remainder of the subsequent suspension or revocation from the court.