South Carolina auto accident attorneysAll too often, people arrive at motor vehicle hearings unprepared, when a little homework and knowledge would make all the difference in the outcome. The Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings (OMVH) is meant to be an objective and fair meeting place to hear your case, but you need to know what you’re doing before you go.

First, be sure to thoroughly study all the documentation you receive from the OMVH, so you know what’s going on and what you’ll need to do. Many people skip this and later wish they hadn’t. If you have to go through a hearing, you want to win, and understanding the documentation is the first step in that direction.

A Hearing Officer will be assigned to your case, and if you need to contact his or her assistant, that information will be in the brochure you receive. You cannot speak with the Hearing Officer directly unless the other parties to the case are present. The assistant will help you with scheduling and answer procedural questions, but no one in the OMVH can offer legal advice.

Second, decide whether you want an attorney to represent you. You can represent yourself (pro se) or retain an attorney—no one else can argue your case at the hearing. As South Carolina auto accident attorneys, of course we recommend you protect your rights by hiring legal counsel, but only you can make that decision.

Your case documentation will include deadlines you must meet. If you need to file any kind of motion or response, it must be done in writing and mailed or hand-delivered. If you use the mail, we recommend that you send it registered or certified so you have proof of receipt. Your docket number must appear on everything, and anything you send to the OMVH must go to every party in your case.

If you and the parties to your case settle the matter out of court, or you wish to withdraw your request for a hearing, notify the Hearing Officer immediately by phone or in writing. Otherwise, your hearing will proceed much like a trial, with opening and closing statements, presentation of evidence, and examination of witnesses.

If you have requested the hearing, you have the burden of proof. Be sure you have credible witnesses and documentation proving your side of the case. Anything you submit into evidence becomes the property of the OMVH. You have the right to subpoena witnesses, but you must arrange and pay for it. Always present yourself as professionally as possible, and stick to the facts of the case.

The Hearing Officer issues a written decision as soon as possible, but no guidelines govern decision timelines. If you wish to appeal a decision, you may do so within 30 days after you receive the decision, and an Administrative Law Judge will hear the appeal.

For more information, click here to download the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings guide.

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