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California DMV Driver License Suspension After an Injury Traffic Accident

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Why does the DMV revoke a driver license after an injury traffic accident?  Every time a driver gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, he or she is accepting the responsibility that comes with the operation of that vehicle.  Travelling at highway speeds, a basic family sedan can be a devastating instrument of death or serious injury if the driver does not drive with great care.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the government entity empowered with the oversight of all people who operate motor vehicles in the State of California.  One of the DMV’s primary areas of concern is that all California drivers maintain the requisite skills necessary to safely drive.  Beyond the basic knowledge and skill to drive, however, the DMV will be equally concerned about any driver who’s driving history or driving actions demonstrate any degree of negligence.

The DMV can label any driver as a Negligent Operator if there is good cause to do so.  Some of the most common reasons which cause a driver to be labeled as a Negligent Operator are:

  • Accumulating too many points for moving violations in a specified period of time.
  • Accumulating too many points for “at fault” traffic accidents in a specified period of time.
  • Causing or contributing to a Fatality Traffic Accident.
  • Causing or contributing to a Serious Injury Traffic Accident.

In this article, we focus on those cases where the DMV labels a driver as a Negligent Operator because he or she has caused or contributed to a Serious Injury Traffic Accident.  First of all, a driver need not have accumulated any “points” to be labeled a Negligent Operator.  Just one traffic accident which results in the serious injury to another person is sufficient to be found negligent.

Also, the driver need not be the primary cause of the traffic accident to be deemed negligent, if their actions contributed to the accident.  Some of the factors the DMV may consider when reviewing a driver’s role in a Serious Injury Traffic Accident are:

  • Was the driver traveling at high speed on crowded roads or during peak hours of traffic?
  • Was the driver attempting to evade law enforcement officers?
  • Was the driver operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any substance?
  • Was the driver operating a motor vehicle in a clearly reckless manner?
  • Did the driver disregard foreseeable risk factors?
  • Was the driver engaged in racing or a speed contest?
  • Was the driver operating a vehicle they were not properly licensed to drive?
  • Did the driver commit traffic violations which caused or contributed to the accident?
  • Did the driver attempt to pass on a winding road or blind corner?
  • Did the driver misjudge the distance of an oncoming car?

The list of potential causes is virtually endless, but if you were in a serious injury traffic accident and it is determined you failed to do something that could have prevented the accident; or if you directly caused the accident, the DMV may be coming for your driver license.

What is the DMV’s definition of a “Serious Injury?”

The California Vehicle Code (CVC) specifically defines what is considered a “serious injury.”  For the purposes of a Negligent Operator suspension/revocation, it is any injury that:

  • Causes a lapse of consciousness
  • Causes a concussion
  • Causes a bone fracture
  • Causes a protracted loss or impairment of function of a bodily member or organ.
  • Causes a wound from which blood flows freely.
  • Causes a wound that requires extensive suturing.
  • Causes a brain injury.
  • Causes paralysis.

What permits the DMV to revoke a driver license following a Serious Injury traffic accident?  Following a “Serious Injury” traffic accident, a driver will learn that the DMV intends to suspend or revoke their driver license when they open an unexpected envelope from the California DMV.  The DMV notifies a driver of the intended suspension/revocation of their license by sending an order that is entitled: ORDER OF SUSPENSION/REVOCATION or NEGLIGENT OPERATOR/VIOLATION OF PROBATION.

Within the body of the letter, the DMV will justify the suspension/revocation of the driver license by claiming the driver “caused or contributed to” an injury accident.

Essentially, the DMV will determine that because you caused or contributed to the injury of another person, you must be a Negligent Operator and therefore cannot be trusted to drive on our public roadways.

California Vehicle Code Section 13800(a) determines that:

            “The department may conduct an investigation to determine whether the privilege of any person to operate a motor vehicle should be suspended or revoked or whether terms or conditions of probation should be imposed upon receiving information or upon a showing by its records that the Licensee has been involved as a driver in any  accident causing death or personal injury or serious damage to property.”

California Vehicle Code Section 13953 determines that:

            “If upon investigation or re-examination the department determines that the safety of the person subject to the investigation, or other persons upon the highway, require such action; the department shall forthwith and with 30 days written notice suspend or revoke the driving privilege of the person affected…”

Fortunately, the Vehicle Code does permit an accused driver to request an Administrative Hearing to demonstrate why the suspension or revocation is not warranted.  Known as an Injury Accident hearing, this is one of the most complicated of all Administrative Hearings conducted by the DMV.

What are the possible outcomes at a DMV Injury Accident Hearing?  The primary focus of any Injury Accident Hearing at the DMV is to determine if the accused driver was negligent in his operation of a motor vehicle, and if so, to what degree.  If the DMV concludes that a driver’s negligence did play a role in causing or contributing to a Serious Injury Traffic Accident the possible outcomes are:

  • No action necessary…….. The DMV will fully reinstate the driving privilege.
  • Revocation……….Revocation of the driving privilege is warranted for an indeterminate period of time when there are severe, flagrant, aggravated and reckless driving acts.
  • Suspension………Suspension of the driving privilege is warranted for a specified period of time when the driver failed to exercise a reasonable amount of care to avoid the accident.
  • Restriction……..Restriction of the driving privilege may be warranted when there is negligence warranting action but it was not severe and when it is not likely to recur.
  • Probation……… Driving Probation may be granted when there is a low degree of negligence and the driving record indicates there is no preponderance toward bad driving habits.

Call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates.  The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates have been conducting Serious Injury Accident Hearings at the DMV for many years.  Our team of former police officers, former DMV hearing officers, licensed investigators and scientists all work as one cohesive unit to create a robust defense.

If the DMV is seeking to suspend or revoke your driver license following the trauma of an injury traffic accident, you don’t have to face them alone.  Call the experts at California Drivers Advocates.  We’ll drop everything to step into your case.

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