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Our Defense at a DMV Fatality Hearing

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What are the Steps to Our Defense at a DMV Fatality Hearings? Let’s be perfectly clear. Conducting and winning a Fatality Hearing before the California Department of Motor Vehicles is much, much, more than sitting down and having a chat with the Hearing Officer. A winning defense at a Fatality Hearing requires that your representative be prepared to object to exhibits, introduce evidence, and be prepared to examine and cross-examine witnesses. A proper Fatality Hearing is run similar to a “mini trial” and requires that your DMV Defense Expert be fully trained and experienced in Administrative Law, the Vehicle Code, the Evidence Code, and the California Code of Procedures. While every driver has the absolute right to defend themselves at a Fatality Hearing, doing so is often futile. The issues are too complex and the DMV Hearing Officer is allowed to presume that you are guilty and that you caused or contributed to the death or serious injury of another person while operating a motor vehicle. If your driving privilege is precious, the best defense in protecting that privilege is to call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates (CDA).

CDA is a group of Administrative Law Specialists, Private Investigators, Former Police Officers, Former DMV Hearing Officers, and Scientists all devoted to protecting California Drivers at Administrative Hearings before the California DMV.

Our defense at a Fatality Hearing is basically comprised of four steps:Investigation,Preparation,Presentation & Follow-Thru. These steps may seem simple and almost common-sense but all four rely upon each other and must be presented equally to “cover the bases” and provide you the best chance of victory. Our DMV Defense Experts have been fighting and winning Fatality Hearings for years and understand the critical importance of each and every stage of our process. Because our defense at Fatality Hearings works……… You can WIN a Fatality Hearing.

The Four Stages of Our Defense at a DMV Fatality Hearing.

What Happens During the Investigation Stage?

Once CDA is hired to represent you, we immediately contact the Driver Safety Office to schedule your Fatality Hearing and to request a “Stay” of suspension. Because quality DMV Defense can take months to develop, a timely request for a Stay of Suspension means that you may continue driving while your case is developing.   It is important to maintain your driving freedom and to prevent an increase in insurance rates while we take the time to properly prepare to win your Fatality Hearing.

Once your Fatality Hearing has been scheduled and your driving privilege has been extended, we immediately enter stage one of our process……….. The “Investigation Stage.”

The investigation Stage begins with a thorough and comprehensive interview with you……….. our client. This is critical so that we fully understand who you are and what brought you to the DMV’s attention. Your driving history, criminal history, work history, medical history and other pertinent facts are all a “jumping off” point to begin our case. A thorough and probative examination of your fatal traffic collision will be critical. As painful as this can be, it is really the basis for our defense.

Part of our process includes making formal requests for “Discovery” with the DMV.   This forces the DMV to provide us copies of any information or evidence they intend to present at the Fatality Hearing. Most often this includes traffic collision reports, arrest reports, accident reconstruction reports, witness statements, autopsy reports and any other information the DMV will use to establish that you caused or contributed to the death or serious injury of another.

The investigation stage is critical because we simply cannot afford to be surprised or caught unaware at the Fatality Hearing. If a lack of investigation causes a client to react to a piece of evidence they weren’t prepared for, it can be disastrous. Your DMV Defense Expert from CDA will not allow this to happen.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”What Happens During the Preparation Stage?” open=”no”]Here at CDA, we have come to realize that Stage 2, the “Preparation Stage” is the most critical of all four in our process. There is no question that the complete preparation of a Fatality Hearing can literally mean the difference between winning and losing. Simply put, the goal of the Preparation Stage is to draw on our years of training and experience to anticipate every possible question the DMV Hearing Officer will pose. We must anticipate every possible angle they will play to demonstrate that you caused or contributed to the death or serious injury of another person. Our preparation stage may include:

  • Making a request for Discovery is not sufficient to anticipate the Hearing Officer’s questions. We may issue our own subpoenas for police reports, accident reports, insurance reports or any other documentary evidence that tends to rebut the DMV’s evidence or establishes your driving history.
  • A complete review of your driving record is critical. The DMV will often use one’s driving record to establish a history or poor or negligent operation. We often find that the DMV driving record will include stale or incorrect information.
  • We may interview family, friends, neighbors or anyone who may possess relevant information regarding your tragic traffic collision or your driving habits and history.
  • We may have you be examined by your primary care physician or other medical specialist if there is any possibility the DMV will suggest you have a physical or mental condition which caused or contributed to the death or serious injury of another person. This may require the preparation of a Drivers Medical Evaluation (DME) to document your doctor’s findings. We must be prepared to discuss any medical treatments you undergo or medications you may take.
  • We may ask you to attend specified driving schools or courses to demonstrate your current knowledge of the rules of the road and the safe operation of Motor Vehicles.
  • We may ask you to study the Driver’s Handbook to prepare for a written test, if the Hearing Officer deems that necessary.
  • We may employ the services of an Accident Reconstruction Expert to inspect the vehicles involved, the scene involved and to prepare investigative reports in support of their findings.
  • We will prepare and properly serve the DMV with “Notices of Affirmative Evidence” in accordance with the Government Code to ensure that our items of evidence are accepted at the Fatality Hearing. Evidence is pointless unless it is accepted and considered.
  • Most importantly, is to prepare you for examination and cross-examination at the Fatality Hearing.

Each one of these items must be considered and prepared for to ensure that we have properly anticipated and planned to address the Hearing Officer’s every concern. If you leave any rock unturned, that is the one the Hearing Officer will use to beat you.[/fusion_toggle][fusion_toggle title=”What Happens During the Presentation Stage?” open=”no”]Because we have followed our proven method to win your Fatality Hearing we enter the presentation stage after your case has been fully investigated and prepared. You have been fully guided through the process and stand ready to provide credible testimony to save your driving privilege.

The presentation stage is where you finally come to appreciate the value of your DMV Defense Expert from CDA. Entering your Fatality Hearing, you will feel that we are completely prepared and that your DMV Defense Expert knows the Hearing Officer and is respected by that person.

The Fatality Hearing is not conducted in an open courtroom or in front of a throng of people. The Fatality Hearing will be conducted in the private office of the assigned hearing officer. Usually, the only people present during a Fatality Hearing are the DMV Hearing Officer, the Client and the DMV Defense Expert. Occasionally, there will also be witnesses who are being examined or cross examined.

All such hearings are audio recorded to provide a record later if neces. The Hearing Officer opens the hearing by introducing all persons present and then will administer an oath to the driver as all testimony is taken under oath. At that point, the Hearing Officer will introduce their case, their evidence, and their witnesses.

Once the DMV has presented its case, it is time for your DMV Defense Expert to shine. We introduce our own evidence and witnesses, designed to rebut or disprove the DMV’s allegation. You may be called upon to authenticate or “verify” items of evidence being introduced on your behalf. You will be called upon to testify and to be cross-examined by the DMV Hearing Officer but, you should already be completely prepared for this event.

When all evidence and testimony has been presented at your Fatality Hearing, it is now time for your DMV Defense Expert from CDA to wrap everything up in a final package. It is common for there to be many pieces of evidence to consider and much testimony to review. Your DMV Defense Expert will bring everything together to present you and your case in the best possible light. This is where we bring focus and clarity to your case.

Finally, when the hearing ends, your DMV Defense Expert will conclude his argument and submit the case to the Hearing Officer. What Happens During the Follow-Thru Stage?

When a Fatality Hearing comes to an end and your DMV Expert submits the case to the Hearing Officer, it is extremely rare for a Hearing Officer to announce a final decision on the spot. Although many Hearing Officers may imply which way they are leaning, most will render a decision in writing within about 10 days (This may be longer depending upon workload at the DMV).

The Hearing Officer will make a final decision in writing that is mailed both to the driver and to CDA. Once we receive the final decision, our obligation to you is far from over. We will remain active and vigilante in assisting you through whatever “post hearing” issues may arise. We don’t stop fighting for you until you have fallen completely off of the DMV’s radar.

Our follow-thru may include “post hearing” contact with the DMV Hearing Officer. It may include us contacting the DMV’s legal department in Sacramento to ensure proper updating of your driving record. If the DMV requires that you provide an SR-22 Insurance Form, your DMV Defense Expert will be ready to refer you to a number of professional providers. Finally, if you have questions for weeks or even months after the hearing, we will not fail you. We will remain there to assist you and guide you as you move forward.

We’re Ready to Provide Defense for Your DMV Fatality Hearing.

If you have received a “Notice of Suspension” from the California DMV because they believe you caused or contributed to death or serious injury of another person, you should be crystal-clear in the fact that they will strip you of your driving privilege. The only responsible and productive choice you can make is to plan a defense that is timely, properly planned and professionally executed. You simply must prepare for and win a Fatality Hearing. There simply is no other way.

The DMV Experts at CDA have conducted literally hundreds of Administrative Hearings and have won scores of Fatality Hearings. We win these hearings because we do the job correctly and we treat our clients with respect. Call us now; we’re ready to fight for you.

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COVID-19 Update: The California DMV is OPEN!!!The California Department of Motor Vehicles - Driver Safety Office is Open & SUSPENDING Licenses

If you received a notice from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Driver Safety Office you must act now.

The Driver Safety Offices are still doing business as usual, which means suspending your license. 

Hearings are still being processed and you can still defend yourself. 

California Drivers Advocates is a team of expert DMV Defense advocates. We represent drivers throughout California when their driver license comes into question with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

We are already defending drivers in their new virtual hearings at the DMV. Learn more here >

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