How does the DMV use Vehicle Code Section 13370 to suspend or revoke a School Bus Driver Certificate?
It goes without saying that school bus drivers are among the most trusted of all professional drivers in the State of California. Each day, thousands of parents place their children’s lives in the capable hands of devoted school bus drivers who transport their precious cargo to and from school. Because so much rests in the hands of these trusted professionals, the California Legislature enacted sweeping laws to ensure that all school bus drivers are held to the highest standards of professional and personal conduct.
In order for a driver to transport children or developmentally disabled persons, they must hold both a Commercial Driver License and a School Bus Certificate. To obtain these important documents the driver must undergo extensive testing and background checks.
Once a School Bus Certificate is issued, the driver is closely monitored by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the California Department of Highway Patrol (CHP), to ensure they maintain the capacity and trustworthiness required to transport children. Throughout their professional driving career, the holder of a School Bus Certificate must maintain the highest levels of physical and mental health. They must follow strict rules of safety and operation, and they must live their professional and personal lives in a manner consistent with those people of the highest moral character.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 13370 is a broad and enormously powerful section of law that grants the DMV the immense power to deny, suspend or revoke the School Bus Certificate of any person who has been convicted of serious crimes or has committed any act that violates public sentiment and trust.
CVC Section 13370 (a) determines:
“The department shall refuse to issue or renew, or shall revoke a school bus, school pupil activity bus, general public paratransit vehicle, or youth bus certificate, or a certificate used for the transportation of developmentally disabled persons, if any of the following causes applicant to the applicant or certificate holder:” (1) Conviction of a Sex Crime(2) Conviction of any drug offense within two years(3) Failed to meet any prescribed training requirements(4) Failed to meet any prescribed testing requirements(5) Conviction of any violent felony
CVC Section 13370 (b) determines:
“The department shall refuse to issue or renew, or shall revoke a school bus, school pupil activity bus, general public paratransit vehicle, or youth bus certificate, or a certificate used for the transportation of developmentally disabled persons, if any of the following causes applicant to the applicant or certificate holder:” (1) Any conviction specified by the Education Code within the previous 7 years(2) Has committed an act involving moral turpitude(3) Has been convicted of any Felony within the previous 7 years(4) Has been dismissed as a driver for a cause relating to pupil transportation safety(5) Has been convicted of any Drug Offense within the previous 7 years
California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 13370 (B) (2) is an obscure section of the Vehicle Code that is often used by the DMV as a “catch all” section granting the department nearly unbridled power to suspend or revoke a School Bus Certificate for nearly anything it determines to be an act of Moral Turpitude. A suspension or revocation under this section of the law DOES NOT require that a person be convicted of ANY crime. The mere commission of an act that is deemed immoral is sufficient to cause a suspension or revocation of the School Bus Certificate.
With increasing frequency, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will base a School Bus Certificate action on a “finding of moral turpitude.” The DMV routinely does this because moral turpitude is difficult to define and gives the DMV Hearing Officer the nearly unrestrained ability to “label” any unwholesome or uncomfortable past event as being an “issue of moral turpitude.
The DMV’s definition of Moral Turpitude is:
“The act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in private or social duties, which man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and wrong and the duty between man and man. Act or behavior that gravely violates moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of the community and is a morally culpable quality held to be present in some criminal offenses as distinguished from others.”
While it is true that many School Bus Certificate actions are supported by a court conviction, the DMV is also permitted to take a disciplinary action against a driver’s School Bus Certificate for issues involving Moral Turpitude, even when no conviction occurs. Some acts involving moral turpitude include immoral sexual behavior, or crimes of personal gain, fraud, or theft.
DMV hearing officers are routinely taught to use the following as a working theory of Moral Turpitude: “Conduct which is contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.”
How we use the Vehicle Code to defend you? The DMV’s enforcement of CVC section 13370 is a punitive administrative sanction designed to strip a person of a “vested property right” that is directly related to their ability to earn a living. This is a huge government infringement on the rights of a citizen. When this happens, the laws of Procedural Due Process apply and prevent the DMV from taking an arbitrary action against you until you are provided an opportunity to defend yourself.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 13371 is the section of the law that grants a driver the right to rebut the allegation affecting their School Bus Certificate.
CVC section 13371 (a) determines:
“Any driver or applicant who has received a notice of refusal, suspension or revocation, may, within 15 days after the mailing date, submit to the department a written request for a hearing. Failure to demand a hearing within 15 days is a waiver of the right to a hearing.”
Everything the DMV does is time sensitive and when dealing with issues regarding a School Bus Certificate, you only have 15 days (from the date of mailing) to contact the DMV to prevent the suspension or revocation of your certificate. Delays in mail delivery can quickly cut into that time line and you may be left with little time to respond. If you have received any notice from the DMV that they intend to suspend or revoke your School Bus Certificate under the provisions of CVC section 13369, you should react immediately.
There is no question that the loss of a School Bus Certificate would be a crippling blow to the professional driving career of a school bus driver. If a driver is stripped of his or her School Bus Certificate, the law flatly prohibits them from driving a school bus. In this case, most School Bus drivers would find themselves out of work.
If you have received notification that the DMV is working to deny, suspend or revoke your School Bus Certificate, don’t give up hope. Many times, the DMV will initiate a suspension or revocation action based on weak or inaccurate information. The bottom line is that these actions can be defended and they can be defeated.
Pick up the telephone and call the DMV Defense Experts from California Drivers Advocates (CDA). We are a team of former police officers, former DMV hearing officers, investigators and scientists who are ready to turn the tables on the DMV. We have been fighting and winning School Bus Certificate hearings for many years. We know exactly how to beat the DMV at their own game. Don’t let the DMV steal your School Bus Certificate without a fight. Call CDA today.