Oregon DMV Hearings FAQ for in-person hearings

QUESTION: Do I have to go to my Oregon DMV Hearing?

You’re not required to attend, but I almost always find it helpful if you do. You can alert me to problems in the officer’s testimony. Plus, the DMV Hearing is your first chance to hear your lawyer fight for you — and get a gauge on how they fight.

QUESTION: Will they ask me any questions at the DMV Hearing?

No. You’re not a source of evidence, because in the related criminal case you have a right to silence. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may confirm your mailing address with you at the start of the hearing. After the officer testifies, you have the right to testify if you wish. In 99% of my DMV Hearings, my client does not testify. There’s rarely any benefit to it in this type of hearing.

QUESTION: How should I dress?

These are informal hearings. The judge will not be wearing a robe and I will not be wearing a suit, unless I’m coming from court! Dress is business casual. 

QUESTION: Who is the Judge?

Your case will be adjudicated by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Oregon Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The ALJ will not be in a robe or in a courtroom and is not an elected judge. ALJs are lawyers who simply applied for a state job. Sometimes they are experienced, and sometimes not. They’re generally nice people trying to make the right decision.

QUESTION: Will the judge take my license away if we lose — right there?

The ALJ will not make a decision about your suspension at the hearing. Instead, they will mail a written decision to you which must be post-marked before your suspension begins. Your proposed suspension is usually slated to start on the 30th day after the date of your arrest.

QUESTION:  Should I chit-chat with the officer or ALJ while waiting for the hearing? 

No. The officer is trained to listen to how you talk, so he can testify, “It’s much different than on the night in question.” Don’t give him that opportunity.

QUESTION: What’s the point of this DMV hearing?

We’re looking for any reason for the proposed suspension to not be imposed. We’re also investigating the case by questioning the state’s star witness. We use that information to make smart decisions about how to handle the criminal case.