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How to Prepare for Virtual Hearings at the DMV

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When you receive a traffic ticket, you have the opportunity to request a hearing within a specific timeframe. The hearing will determine whether DMV has grounds to administratively suspend your license.

Many offices and bureaus closed during the pandemic, so hearings for traffic violations moved online. But some drivers are concerned about the process and are calling for a return to in-person hearings.

Schedule Your Appointment

The court will notify you of your hearing via email, so it’s important to check your emails often (at least daily) leading up to the hearing. This is because the information for the hearing may change a day or two ahead of time, or even on the day of the hearing.

It’s also a good idea to try a WebEx test meeting to make sure you can join the hearing before the actual date. This will help ensure that your computer, tablet, or mobile device has the required software installed and that you know how to use it.

It is a good idea to minimize the bundle of documents as much as possible for virtual hearings at the DMV, so that it is easy for parties and counsel to follow the evidence. It is also a good idea to mute your microphone when you are not speaking to avoid distracting the judge with noise. Wherever practical it is best to have Counsel, instructing solicitors and the client all in one room during a virtual hearing to maximize this opportunity for effective communication.

Prepare for the Hearing

In a virtual hearing, it is important to prepare your arguments and evidence in advance of the hearing. It is also advisable to put down any oral submissions on paper in case the connection goes bad or your computer freezes during the course of the hearing (which can happen).

When you are called up to present your case, be sure to log on to the virtual courtroom well before the start time. If you are unsure about the technology, check with the court/tribunal to see if they offer technology testing on the day prior.

It is also a good idea to have your counsel and instructing solicitors in the same location during the hearing, where possible, to minimise distractions. Instructing solicitors should mute their microphones when not speaking during the hearing, and use a separate secure communications app to communicate between them and the client throughout the hearing. You should also ask the judge about their preferred way of addressing cases, such as whether they prefer to be stood or seated for their presentations.

Communicate with Your Attorney

If you’re going to be attending a virtual hearing, it’s important that you talk with your attorney about how best to communicate during the hearing. For example, they may instruct you to use an app that allows you to communicate with them and other participants in the hearing while keeping the audio private.

If your license has been suspended or revoked by the New York City Traffic Violations Bureau, you can have a hearing to resolve the issue. While the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for people to travel and attend in-person court proceedings, many of these events have been moved online. The DMV has recently announced that motorists can also have their non-criminal traffic ticket hearings conducted via video conference. The DMV also offers a preliminary conference before your hearing to discuss the circumstances surrounding your suspension. During this conference, the Commission employee will try to resolve your case by reducing the length of your proposed suspension or rescinding it altogether.

Prepare for Technical Issues

Whether you have a full hearing or an uncontested case, it is important to prepare for technical issues that may arise during your virtual hearing. The hearings are conducted via Zoom, a video conferencing program. It is best to test the program out with a friend before your hearing and to ensure you have a strong internet connection.

It is also a good idea to have any documents or evidence you will use to support your case ready to go in advance of the hearing. Similarly, it is recommended that you take a practice run of your microphone and camera prior to the hearing.

While many people welcome the opportunity to opt-in to remote hearings, others are concerned about the possibility of losing their license if they cannot log on due to connectivity issues. For individuals who are employed or rely on driving for their livelihood, this is especially problematic. Many attorneys charge hourly rates for their services, but some are willing to negotiate flat fees for hearings.

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