How does the DMV use Vehicle Code Section 13372 to suspend or revoke an Ambulance Driver Certificate?
Ambulance drivers are among the most trusted of all California professional drivers. Hundreds of times each day, ambulance drivers make emergency responses to aid patients who have been injured or are ill. Once the ambulance driver delivers his crew to the scene of the call, he or she is then responsible for transporting their patient to higher medical treatment quickly and without causing additional harm.
Because ambulance drivers transport our nation’s vulnerable patients and because they must often operate their ambulance under emergency conditions, they are understandably held to a higher standard of driving performance and personal conduct than many other categories of professional driver. Transporting patients can only be entrusted to those drivers who maintain the highest levels of professional and personal conduct.
Once an Ambulance 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 physical and mental capacity to transport patients. The DMV and CHP also monitor certificate holders for any other issue that may warrant a suspension or revocation of the Ambulance Certificate in the interest of patient safety.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 13372 is a broad and enormously powerful section of law. The legislative intent of this law was to grant the DMV the power to deny, suspend or revoke an Ambulance Certificate for nearly any act or omission that is construed as creating a hazard to patients.
CVC Section 13372 (a) determines:
“The department shall refuse to issue or renew, or shall suspend or revoke an ambulance driver certificate if any of the following apply to the applicant or certificate holder.” (1) Is required to register as a sex offender for any offense involving force, violence, threat or intimidation(2) Habitual or excessive use of narcotics or dangerousDrugs(3) Is on parole or probation for any felony, theft, orany crime involving force, violence, threat, or intimidation
CVC Section 13372(b)determines:
“The department shall refuse to issue or renew, or shall suspend or revoke an ambulance driver certificate if any of the following apply to the applicant or certificate holder.” (1) Has been convicted of any felony or theft within the previous 7 years(2) Has committed any act involving moral turpitude, including fraud or intentional dishonesty for personal gain within the previous 7 years(3) Habitually or excessively uses intoxicating beverages(4) Has been convicted of any drug offense or any misdemeanor involving force, violence, threat, or intimidation within the previous 7 years(5) Is on probation to the DMV for a cause involving the unsafe operation of a motor vehicle(6) Has had his or her driver license suspended or revoke by the DMV for any cause involving the unsafe operation of a motor vehicle within the previous 3 years, or within the same period has been convicted of any of the following:(A) Failure to stop and render aid in an accident involving death or injury(B) Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination thereof(C) Reckless driving or reckless driving involving bodily injury(7) Has knowingly made a false statement or failed to disclose a material fact in his or her application(8) Has been involved in a traffic accident causing death or injury, or three or motor traffic accidents in one year(9) Does not meet minimum medical standards(10) Has demonstrated irrational behavior or has incurred a physical disability(11) Has violated any provision of the Vehicle Code in the operation of an emergency ambulance(12) Has committed any act warranting dismissal from employment
California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 13372 (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 an Ambulance 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 Ambulance Certificate.
With increasing frequency, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will base an Ambulance 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 Ambulance Certificate actions are supported by a court conviction, the DMV is also permitted to take a disciplinary action against an Ambulance Driver’s 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 your Ambulance Certificate? The DMV’s enforcement of CVC section 13372 is a punitive administrative sanction designed to strip a person of a “vested property right.” When this happens, the laws of Procedural Due Process apply. Before an arbitrary action to deny, suspend or revoke a person’s Ambulance Certificate can take effect, the driver must be given an opportunity to protect themselves.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) section 13374 (a) is the section of the law that grants a driver the right to rebut the allegation affecting their Ambulance Certificate.
CVC section 13374 (a) determines:
“An applicant for, or the holder of, an ambulance driver certificate who has received a notice of refusal, suspension or revocation may submit, within 15 days after the notice has been mailed by the department, a written request for hearing.”
Everything the DMV does is time sensitive and when dealing with issues regarding an Ambulance 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 or delays in your receiving the notice can quickly reduce the number of days you have to protect yourself. If you have received any notice from the DMV that they intend to suspend or revoke your Ambulance Drivers Certificate under the provisions of CVC section 13372, you should react immediately.
It is common for the DMV to initiate a suspension or revocation action against an ambulance driver based upon inaccurate or misleading information. It is also quite common for the DMV to overstep their bounds in their zeal to protect patients. If you have received a notice of suspension or revocation, all is not lost. These cases can be aggressively defended and they can be won.
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 Ambulance Driver Certificate hearings throughout the State of California for years. Wherever your hearing we’ll be conducted, we’ve been there. Don’t let the DMV steal your Ambulance Driver’s Certificate without a fight. Call CDA today.