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Our Defense at a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearings

As discussed elsewhere in this site, the School Bus Driver Special Certificate is only awarded to the most trusted of all professional drivers. As a result, if the DMV suspects a School Bus Driver has been involved in any criminal act, issue or moral turpitude; or has lost the physical or mental ability to operate a school bus, they will act quickly to prevent that driver from transporting children. The only way for a School Bus driver to reverse the suspension or revocation of their Special Certificate is to conduct and win a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing.

A School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing is a formal, legal, proceeding conducted before a hearing officer of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A properly conducted School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing is somewhat similar to a “mini trial.” Exhibits are presented, evidence is considered, objections are made, and witnesses may testify. Our defense at Special Certificate Hearings is to prepare our clients for the arduous battle of fighting the DMV. Successful defense at a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing is not something the average driver should attempt themselves. The issues are too complex and the presentation too demanding to simply have a chat with the hearing officer. You must be prepared to object to the DMV’s evidence and to present your own affirmative evidence in a manner that is acceptable under Administrative Law. If you’re facing the prospect of losing your Special Certificate, and therefore the privilege to operate a school bus, your best response is to immediately call the DMV Defense Experts from California Drivers Advocates (CDA).

The DMV Defense Experts from CDA have a proven history of winning School Bus Special Certificate Hearings for our clients. Our defense at a Special Certificate Hearing is made up of four stages: Investigation,Preparation,Presentation &Follow-Thru.

On the surface, this may seem simple; however, the reality is each stage of our defense plan has been developed over years of fighting with the DMV. Our DMV Defense Experts know what the DMV is looking for and we know how to anticipate the hearing officer’s questions beforehand. Our strategy works! You can WIN a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing and thereby, keep your job.

What Happens During the Investigation Stage?

The moment you hire us, we begin the preparation of your hearing by planning for your defense. Entering the investigation stage, we immediately contact the Driver Safety Office (DSO) nearest to your home to set a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing and to request a “Stay of Suspension” so you may continue driving school buses until the outcome of the hearing. The DMV routinely denies a request to stay the suspension/revocation of the Special Certificate because their obligation is first and foremost, to protect our children. For those drivers holding a School Bus Certificate, the DMV’s decision to grant or deny a “stay” is often predicated upon whether or not the safety of students is in question. The bottom line is that the attempt should be made because the Special Certificate process can take months.

Next, we interview you in great detail to learn who you are and what brought you to the attention of the DMV. Your driving history, work history, medical history, and criminal history are all points to be explored. We file the proper requests with the DMV which forces them to provide copies of any evidence they intend to use at the School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing.

Again, as simple as this may sound, it is critical to conduct a thorough investigation so nothing is missed. The worst possible event is to be surprised during your Special Certificate Hearing by an issue or piece of evidence you did not anticipate. A thorough investigation is a fundamental building block to at these hearings.

Increasingly, the DMV bases its Special Certificate actions on a “finding of moral turpitude.” DMV routinely does this because moral turpitude is difficult to define and gives the DMV Hearing Officer the nearly unbridled 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 the depravity in private or social duties, which man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man. Act or behavior that gravely violates moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of community and is a morally culpable quality held to be present in some criminal offenses as distinguished from others.”

Most often the refusal, suspension, or revocation of a School Bus Driver Special Certificate if triggered by a court conviction, however, the DMV is permitted to take a disciplinary action against a driver’s Special Certificate involving issues of Moral Turpitude, even when no court conviction occurs. The DMV is permitted to refuse, suspend, or revoke a person’s School Bus Driver Special Certificate based upon an arrest or a mere suspicion if it is believed the event demonstrates you are not to be trusted. Essentially, this means the DMV can take your Special Certificate simple because they “think” you’ve done something wrong. 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.”

Although current law requires the DMV to establish the nexus (logical connection) between the alleged criminal conduct or bad act and the driver’s ability to engage in the use of the Special Certificate, DMV Hearing Officers are granted great power to subjectively make this connection.

What Happens During the Preparation Stage?

To be frank, the “Preparation Stage” is where most School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearings are won or lost. This is where the depth of our experience becomes apparent. Our defense at a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing is based upon our ability to accurately anticipate the hearing officer’s concerns and suspicions, and be ready to address them before they even arise.

The “Preparation Stage” of our defense at a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing may include:

  • The issuance of subpoenas for police reports, accident reports, insurance reports, or any other documents that establish or explain your driving habits or prior criminal history.
  • The complete review of your criminal history and driving record to ensure is accuracy. It is common for us to discover errors in these records that make a huge difference in the case.
  • The interview of family, friends, employers, or other people who may possess valuable information regarding your criminal history, personal history, work history, medical history, driving habits, and your need to drive a school bus.
  • Filing of a “Petition for Expungment” with the Superior Court to dismiss previous criminal convictions. While this does not erase the previous conviction, it is another mechanism we use to demonstrate to the DMV that you have served your debt to society and have moved beyond your past.
  • If the DMV seeks to deny, suspend, or revoke your School Bus Driver Special Certificate for a physical or mental condition, we will completely investigate and document these issues through physician’s reports and a Driver Medical Evaluation (DME).
  • Preparation and service of “Notices of Affirmative Evidence” to the DMV as outlined in the Government Code. This is so your evidence will be accepted by the DMV. Otherwise, it can be rejected.
  • Finally, and most importantly, to prepare you for examination and cross-examination during your School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing. In most instances, it is imperative that you testify at your own hearing. You must be prepared to handle this critical step correctly.

What Happens During the Presentation Stage?

After your case has been thoroughly investigated and properly prepared, it is time to actually conduct the School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing. With years of experience and scores of School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearings conducted, your DMV Expert from CDA will know exactly where we’re going, exactly what we’re doing, and exactly who we’re dealing with. There should be no mystery to entering and conducting your hearing. There should be no surprises.

 The School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing is conducted in the private office of a DMV Hearing Officer. This does not occur in an open courtroom or with dozens of people standing around. Usually, the only people present in the room are the Hearing Officer, the accused driver, and your DMV Defense Expert from CDA. If necessary, witnesses or experts may be called to testify but you will know this well in advance. Again, there should be no surprises at the Hearing. If something occurs during your hearing that was not anticipated, your representative has not properly prepared.

 When the hearing begins, you will be “sworn in” and promise to tell the truth during your testimony. The hearing officer will introduce the issues to be discussed and then our defense takes center stage. Because we are fully prepared, we will introduce your testimony, evidence, and witnesses. Because our defense at a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing included preparation for cross-examination, you will be prepared to answer the hearing officer’s questions honestly, completely, and intelligently. Again, no surprises.   At the end of the hearing, your DMV Defense Expert will offer a closing argument to wrap everything up and bring focus and clarity to your case.

What Happens During the Follow-Thru Stage?

It is rare that a DMV Hearing Officer will announce their decision at the end of the School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing, and in fact, the hearing officer does not have the final word in your case. In almost all administrative hearings conducted by the DMV, the decision of the individual hearing officer is final; however, in the School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing, the individual DMV hearing officer considers all of the issues and evidence and then prepares a written recommendation to the School Bus Review Board.

In some instances, the DMV Hearing Officer will offer the opportunity for your DMV Expert to include a legal brief or statement of facts to be considered during the review.

The DMV’s policy is to convene a review board on ALL school bus certificate issues, including Mandatory Actions. The School Bus Review Board meets one time per month in Sacramento and is comprised of the following members:

  • DMV Representative, who acts as the Board Chairman.
  • CHP Representative.
  • Board of Education Representative.

The School Bus Certificate Review Board reviews all information presented at the School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing and then considers the written recommendation of the hearing officer. Ultimately, the Review Board will make a final ruling.

The Review Board has the power to sustain, modify, or “set aside” the DMV action against the School Bus Driver Special Certificate. If the Review Board feels that it requires more information, or that the Hearing Officer’s recommendation is not sound, it may remand the issue back to the Hearing Officer for further work.

Once the Review Board has made its decision, a “Notice of Findings and Decision” will be mailed to you and your DMV Expert. In those instances where we have won the School Bus Driver Special Certificate, the certificate itself is included with the written notice.

In those instances where the School Bus Special Certificate Hearing is lost, you may appeal the review board’s decision by filing a “Request for Administrative Review” or you are entitled to take the matter to court and file a “Writ of Mandate.” If your School Bus Driver Special Certificate is denied, suspended or revoked, you must wait one full year before becoming eligible to apply again.

Our follow-thru may include contact with the DMV hearing officer to check the status of a decision. It may include follow-up with the Mandatory Actions Unit in Sacramento to ensure that your driving record is properly updated.   It is normal for school bus drivers to have many questions at the end of their hearing and we’ll be there to help.

 

Call Us Now to Save Your Special Certificate

If you have received a notice from the DMV that they are denying, suspending, or revoking your School Bus Driver Special Certificate, you should not be confused by what is happening. The DMV is not warning you that they MAY take your Special Certificate. The DMV is telling you that they ARE TAKING YOUR SPECIAL CERTIFICATE and they are challenging you to demonstrate why that action should be reversed.

If you have applied for or currently hold a School Bus Driver Special Certificate, it is probable that your future employment will depend upon reversing the DMV’s action. The best defense at a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing is a timely, properly planned, and professionally executed game plan. Call CDA now……… We are ready to help you win your hearing and save your future.

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