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California DMV Suspension for a Lapse of Consciousness or Control

What does the DMV consider to be a Lapse of Consciousness or Control?  So long as a person enjoys the privilege to drive in California, they remain under the constant scrutiny of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  If at any point, the DMV suspects an issue has arisen that effects that person’s ability to safely drive, the department will initiate a process to consider the withdrawal of that person’s driver license.  The withdrawal of the driving privilege is known as a suspension or revocation.

Some of the most common reasons for the DMV to take a suspension or revocation action against a driver are:

  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle
  • Lack of Knowledge or Skill to drive
  • Physical or Mental Condition making a person unsafe to drive

There are an endless number of physical or mental ailments that may affect a person’s ability to drive.  One of the most commonly investigated issues is any medical disorder that is characterized by a Lapse of Consciousness or Control.  The concern is obvious. Any driver who may lose consciousness or the ability to control their body while driving poses an immediate hazard to the motoring public and the DMV is concerned about ANY episodes of Lapse of Consciousness or Control; whether they occur while driving or not.  For example, if a person is at home and passes out from a bad reaction to medication, the DMV will investigate that incident just as aggressively as a person who has an episode while driving.  ANY Lapse of Consciousness or Control that occurs at any location, at any time is a reason for the DMV to investigate.  Some of the most common examples of a Lapse of Consciousness or Control that we see are:

  • Seizures related to Epilepsy.
  • Seizures related to other seizure disorders such as brain tumors.
  • Fainting episodes related to atrial fibrillation or other cardiac problems.
  • Episodes of hypo-glycaemia related to diabetes.
  • Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of Dementia.
  • Sleep Apnea causing a person to be sleepy during the day.
  • Narcolepsy causing a person to suddenly experience sudden and uncontrolled sleeping.
  • Any episode or syncope brought on by illness or the use of drugs or medication.

Virtually anything that causes a person to experience unconsciousness or the inability to control their bodies is a concern for the DMV.

What action does the DMV take for a Lapse of Consciousness or Control?  The California DMV is uniquely wired into the fabric of our society and may receive information from a variety of sources.  Most often the DMV will learn of a Lapse of Consciousness or Control from a physician following a medical event.  California law requires that all physicians report any Lapse of Consciousness or Control to the California Department of Public Health, which in-turn must report the event to the DMV.

Although physicians are the most common source of information to the DMV, the department may also learn of a Lapse of Consciousness or Control from Law Enforcement Officers, friends, family or even the driver themselves. When the DMV receives information that a driver may have experienced a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, the department has two options in proceeding forward:

  • Notice of Re-Examination: If the DMV is uncertain of the validity of the information, or if the Lapse of Consciousness of Control did not occur while driving, the department has the option of investigating the incident through the “Re-Examination” process.  In this case, the driver will receive a “Notice of Re-Examination” from the DMV.  The envelope will include a five-page medical report known as a “Driver Medical Evaluation” (DME) that is to be prepared by the driver’s physician.  The DMV will require the driver to file the DME with the department within a short period of time and then to participate in a “Re-Examination” interview.  During the interview, a DMV Hearing Officer will question the driver at great length to get a complete understanding of that person’s physical and mental health as well as any other issues which may affect driving.

If the DME prepared by the doctor is positive and if there is no cause for concern, the Hearing Officer may terminate the action and the case comes to an end.  On the other hand, if the medical information is not favorable, is vague or does not establish medical stability the Hearing Officer may order the suspension/revocation of the driver license.  If the driver does not perform well during the interview, the Hearing Officer may suspend/revoke the driver license.  If this happens, the driver is then given the opportunity to conduct a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing to rebut the DMV’s decision.  A Lapse of Consciousness Hearing can be a complicated and frustrating process.  This is when most drivers should engage the services of a DMV Defense Expert.

  • Direct Suspension: If the information received by the DMV comes directly from a physician, or if the Lapse of Consciousness or Control occurred while driving, the DMV will normally bypass the Re-Examination process and move directly to the suspension/revocation of the driver license.

If this happens, you will receive an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail that informs you the DMV has suspended or revoked your driver license without delay.  Do not despair.  This can be repaired and the DMV Defense Experts from California Drivers Advocates are here to help.

If you have received an Order of Suspension/Revocation from the DMV, it will likely indicate that the action is warranted because you suffer with a physical or mental disorder characterized by a Lapse of Consciousness or Control.  When you receive this letter, you must react quickly and correctly.  The law requires the effected driver to contact the proper department of the DMV within a very short period of time to request a hearing.  If you miss that window of opportunity, you will forfeit your right to a hearing. Call California Drivers Advocates today.  We can immediately work to schedule your hearing.

What happens at a DMV Hearing for a Lapse of Consciousness or Control?

 An Administrative Hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles is run very much like a mini trial.  Evidence is presented, witnesses may testify and experts may offer opinions.  Legal objections are weighed and arguments are considered.  In a case like this, it is presumed that you have a physical or mental condition that makes you unsafe to drive and it is your obligation to prove otherwise.  That’s right………. in a case like this, the driver has the burden of proof.

If you have received notification that the California Department of Motor Vehicles is seeking to take you off the road for a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, call California Drivers Advocates immediately.  We will step in to quickly schedule your Lapse of Consciousness correctly and with the proper Driver Safety Office.  We will then lead the way to collect proper and relevant medical information, witness statements, documents and other evidence to prove your fitness to drive.  We will assist you in preparing for written and “behind the wheel” tests.  Most importantly, we will work tirelessly to prepare you for testimony at your hearing.  Preparation is the hallmark of a good DMV hearing and we are ALWAYS prepared.

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