Being directed to appear before the Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealer Board (the “Board”) is potentially a serious matter which may have dramatic and adverse effects upon your livelihood. The Board has the authority to deny, suspend or revoke a license or certificate of dealer registration or qualification. The members of the Board are mostly car dealership operators.
In relevant part, the Board operates under the Administrative Process Act, which has a unique set of procedural rules. Your first appearance may be before a hearing officer for an informal fact finding proceeding where you have the right to be represented by counsel. The hearing officer will receive factual data, argument and/or proof in connection with your case and then make recommendations to the Board regarding how the officer believes your case ought to be decided.
Next, you may be strongly advised to appear for a hearing before the Dealer Practices Committee (the “Committee”), a subset of the Board. In other words, the Committee will be comprised of less than all of the members of the Board.
The Committee will give deference to the findings of the hearing officer, to the extent those findings are based upon the demeanor of witnesses who testified during the informal proceeding. The Committee will accept oral and documentary evidence. Witnesses may testify and be cross examined. A representative of the Board will argue the case against you. You will have the burden of proof, meaning that you will have to prove your case. Once again, you have the right to be represented by a lawyer. Members of the Committee may ask you, or your lawyer, questions, and you and/or your lawyer may address the Committee.
Lastly, the full Board accepts or rejects the recommendations of the Committee in your case. As at the prior stages, you have the right to be represented by counsel, and you and/or your lawyer may address the Board. The Board will orally announce its decision and a written copy of the decision will also be sent to you and your lawyer.
Kirk D. Becchi, a trial attorney who practices Civil and Commercial Litigation with MartinWren, P.C., has experience representing car dealers at the informal hearing stage, the Committee stage and appearing before the full Board. Kirk has been handling automobile dealership issues for many years. Please contact Kirk at (434) 817-3100 or (540) 437-0001, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have issues involving the Board or other legal issues facing your dealership.