What is a Fraudulent Activity Hearing at the DMV? – As California drivers, we all recognize the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as the state agency we all must deal with to register our vehicles or to qualify for a driver license. For many Californians this is the only contact they will ever have with the DMV. Few Californians realize that within the DMV there is an enormously powerful branch known as the Division of Driver Safety. Essentially, this is the enforcement arm of the DMV who possess the absolute power to deny, suspend or revoke a driver license for a variety of reasons.
The Driver Safety Office (DSO) is empowered to terminate the driving privilege of a driver for: Driving under the influence of alcohol; Violating DUI probation; Accumulating too many moving violations or traffic collisions in a short period of time; Failure to maintain auto insurance; Physical or mental conditions; Lack of Skill and or Fraudulent Activity.
In this chapter, we focus on those instances where the California DMV seeks to deny, suspend or revoke a driver license because they believe the involved party has committed an act of fraud. An allegation of Fraudulent Activity exposes the accused person to the denial, suspension or revocation of a driver license for a minimum of one year. Also, because an allegation of fraud can be alleged as a criminal act, an allegation of Fraudulent Activity can potentially develop into a criminal filing in a superior court.
If the DMV has focused upon you and is seeking to deny, suspend or revoke your driver license because of an allegation of Fraudulent Activity, there is only one way to protect yourself. You must schedule, conduct and win an Administrative Hearing before the Driver Safety Office. Known as a Fraudulent Activity Hearing this is conducted before a DMV Hearing Officer at your nearest Driver Safety Office.
The Fraudulent Activity Hearing is a complicated and potentially dangerous hearing. The law and many Government Codes actually favor the DMV. Nonetheless, these hearings can be properly defended and can be won. The DMV Defense Experts from California Drivers Advocates (CDA) are highly experienced advocates who are best equipped to help you through this dark time.
What are the Steps to Our Defense at a Fraudulent Activity Hearing?
Scheduling, conducting and winning a Fraudulent Activity Hearing before the California DMV can be enormously complicated, confusing and frustrating. This is a very unique category of law and very few attorneys in California are equipped to handle such a hearing correctly. There is no school that teaches one how to excel at a Fraudulent Activity Hearing. Experience at such a hearing only comes from doing them and it takes time to learn the ropes.
Conducting a Fraudulent Activity Hearing is much, much more than just having a chat with the DMV Hearing Officer. Exhibits are presented, evidence is entered, witnesses and law enforcement officers may testify and legal arguments are filed. This is a full-blown legal proceeding that is run similar to a mini-trial.
The DMV is permitted to presume the accuracy of all their evidence and they challenge you to show them why their suspicions are wrong. Essentially, the DMV presumes you to be guilty of Fraudulent Activity and then gives you an opportunity to prove your innocence.
Fortunately, California Law does permit an accused driver to be represented at such a hearing by a representative of their choosing. Essentially, this means you can be represented by an Attorney, an Advocate or a friend. Because the DMV process is set up to presume your guilt, the cards are stacked against you. Because few attorneys are experienced in this field and because a friend probably has no clue about DMV procedure, your best opportunity for victory comes by enlisting the assistance of a DMV Defense Expert from California Drivers Advocates. We are not attorneys. We are a group of Administrative Law Advocates made up of former police officers, former DMV Hearing Officers, licensed investigators and scientists. We are exclusively devoted to representing California Drivers at all forms of Administrative Hearings before the California DMV and we excel at Fraudulent Activity Hearings.
Our defense at a Fraudulent Activity Hearing is comprised of four steps: Investigation, Preparation, Presentation & Follow-Thru…
This four-step process is a proven approach to winning a Fraudulent Activity Hearing. All four steps are independent but rely upon one another to be complete. By adamantly sticking to our “game plan,” we cover every base and provide you with the best opportunity to win your Fraudulent Activity Hearing, without increasing the likelihood of a criminal prosecution. Because Administrative Law is so heavily weighted in favor of the DMV, we cannot promise that we can win your Fraudulent Activity Hearing—No one can make such a representation; however, our process works. We have won many Fraudulent Activity Hearings with no criminal prosecution of our clients.
The moment you engage CDA as your DMV Defense Experts, we contact the DMV to protect your rights and to schedule a Fraudulent Activity Hearing. Because the development and handling of a Fraudulent Activity Hearing can take months, we act immediately to stop the suspension/revocation of your driver license. Known as a “Stay of Suspension,” this permits you to continue driving until the outcome of the hearing. This permits you to continue driving, working and living your life while we prepare and present your defense.
Once we have scheduled your Fraudulent Activity Hearing and have secured your driving privilege, we enter step one of our process……….. The investigation Stage.
The “investigation” begins with a thorough and comprehensive interview of you. It is critical that we know all we can about you and how you came to be in this predicament. Known as our “intake interview” this process can be anywhere from 1 to 3 hours and covers your driving history, criminal history, work history, medical history and any other pertinent facts. Ultimately, we then focus on what event or events brought you onto the DMV’s radar. This is probative and to the point. In some instances, this portion of the intake interview may be embarrassing or uncomfortable, but it is critical to preparing our defense. We simply must know what happened.
Once we have documented “your side of the story,” we then go about the business of collecting any evidence the DMV intends to present to prove their case against you. Known as “Discovery,” this evidence often includes investigative reports, photographs, fingerprints, computer printouts, copies of examinations, and statements of witnesses. In some complicated cases, we may receive reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, the DMV’s Investigative Division, or state and local law enforcement agencies. Anything the DMV intends to use against you must be revealed to us prior to your hearing.
The “investigation stage” is critical as it reveals just what the DMV thinks you did and how they think they can prove the allegation. The need for a thorough investigation cannot be overstated as your DMV Defense cannot afford to be surprised in the hearing. If you are caught off-guard or unprepared for an item of evidence that you didn’t evaluate, it can spell disaster. Your DMV Defense Expert from CDA will not allow this to happen.
Although each stage of our process is important, we have learned that the “Preparation Stage” is the most critical of all the four stages. The preparation of your Fraudulent Activity Hearing will literally make the difference between winning and losing. Your DMV Defense Expert from CDA will draw on many years of experience to evaluate all of the evidence, both positive and negative. Your CDA representative will anticipate the DMV’s direction and the presentation of their case.
In many instances, the DMV does not possess sufficient evidence to justify a negative action against the driver. In a case like this, the DMV will often seek to intimidate the driver into making damaging statements or into providing evidence of his or her wrong doing. This cannot be permitted. As your DMV Defense Expert, we must be prepared for everything and be ready to counter the DMV’s moves.
The preparation of your case may include:
- A formal “Request for Discovery” to the DMV which forces the department to release copies of any and all evidence they intend to present to prove their case. Many times, the DMV will drag their feet and cause delays in the production of evidence. We are ready for that and realize that “the squeaky wheel gets oil.” This means that we will send repeated requests to the DMV for the production of evidence and will make telephone calls to the hearing officer to drive that home.
- Many times the DMV’s case is based upon inaccurate or incorrect information. Many times their evidence is lacking, but remember, the department is permitted to presume your guilt. Based on this, we may issue subpoenas to law enforcement agencies, private companies or other persons for the production of additional items of evidence.
- A complete review of your driving record may be critical. The DMV will often use one’s driving record to establish a poor history of driving or failing written examinations. We often will find that the DMV’s printout will include stale or incorrect information.
- We may interview family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or anyone who may possess relevant information regarding your case.
- We may prepare and serve the DMV with a “Notice of Affirmative Evidence” in accordance with the Government Code to ensure that our evidence is admitted into the Fraudulent Activity Hearing and given its proper weight in deciding your case. The collection of evidence is pointless if it is not admitted into your hearing.
- In some instances, your best defense at a Fraudulent Activity Hearing may include your testimony. It can be important for you to explain your actions or to explain why the DMV’s evidence is not accurate. In a Fraudulent Activity Hearing, great care must be given when deciding to have a driver testify in his own behalf. All DMV hearings are audio recorded and all testimony is taken under oath. If a driver provides sworn testimony that reveals his/her complicity in a criminal act, it can result in a criminal filing in a superior court. If the decision is made for you to testify, it is critical that you be prepared for examination and cross-examination so that you can testify honestly and with great credibility. In some instances, however, the best defense is to not allow you to be present or to testify. Knowing the difference comes with experience.
As stated above, preparation is truly the key to victory. If your representative is not fully prepared and if he/she is not capable of adapting and adjusting to sudden developments, your case can go very badly. Preparation allows us to be ready to counter the DMV’s evidence and to present our own. If you leave any stone un-turned, that is the one stone the DMV will use to clobber you. Preparation is key!
What Happens at the Presentation Stage?]
When we enter your Fraudulent Activity Hearing, we have collected and evaluated all of the DMV’s evidence against you. We have collected, evaluated and alerted the DMV as to any affirmative evidence or testimony that we intend to present. We have studied and researched the case and any applicable case law. We have thought through and anticipated the DMV’s approach from every angle. We are ready to object to the DMV’s evidence, ready to introduce our own evidence and ready to introduce your testimony if it is appropriate.
When we enter your Fraudulent Activity Hearing, we are 100% ready to fight for you.
The presentation stage is where all our investigation and preparation coalesce into a focused attack on the DMV’s case. This is where our years of experience kick in and you appreciate the value of our devotion to you. You will recognize that the DMV Hearing Officer knows and respects us. This type of professional recognition and respect only comes from years of experience and hundreds of hearings with hearing officers.
The Fraudulent Activity Hearing is conducted in the private office of the assigned DMV Hearing Officer. These hearings are private, therefore they are not conducted in large open courtrooms with dozens of people sitting in witness. Usually, the only people present at a Fraudulent Activity Hearing are the DMV Hearing Officer, the DMV Defense Expert and the accused driver. In some instances, police officers, investigators or other witnesses may testify.
All hearings are audio recorded and all testimony is taken under oath. Based on this, the Fraudulent Activity Hearing begins with the Hearing Officer turning on an audio recording device. The DMV Defense Experts from California Drivers Advocates always makes an independent audio recording as well. The hearing officer opens the hearing by introducing all persons present and then identifies the issues to be decided in the hearing. At this point, the DMV Hearing Officer will introduce their exhibits and witnesses. This is essentially where the DMV presents its case.
With the DMV’s case presented, it is time for your DMV Defense Expert to shine. We object to the DMV’s introduction of evidence. This can include objections through the Evidence Code, the Administrative Procedures Act and the Government Code. Your DMV Defense Expert is doing all he can to minimize or eliminate the evidence against you. With that accomplished, we now step up to introduce our case.
We introduce any affirmative evidence or testimony designed to disprove or “rebut” the DMV’s belief that you knowingly and intentionally committed an act of fraud. You may be called upon to authenticate or “verify” items of evidence. If the decision has been made to introduce your testimony, your DMV Defense Expert will directly examine you first. With direct examination complete, however, you are then subject to cross-examination by the DMV Hearing Officer. This can be quite dangerous to your case unless you are properly prepared.
In most instances, the DMV only allows one-hour for a hearing to be conducted. If the introduction of extensive evidence or testimony requires more time, the hearing officer will pause the hearing after one-hour and “reconvene” the matter to conclude at a later date.
When all evidence has been introduced and all testimony has ended, it is then time for your DMV Defense Expert to make the closing argument. This is where your representative brings the numerous items of evidence and testimony into focus and clarifies your defense. This is where we drive home why the DMV should not take any further action against you.
Finally, your DMV Defense Expert will wrap up his argument and submit the case to the hearing officer for his or her decision.
What Happens During the Follow-Thru Stage?
When a Fraudulent Activity Hearing concludes, it is rare for a hearing officer to render a decision on the spot. In most instances, the hearing officer will take the matter under submission. Because these hearings can include the introduction of many items of evidence and extensive testimony, the hearing officer will often take the time to review the entire case before making a decision. In most instances the hearing officer will publish a written decision within 10 to 15 days following the conclusion of the hearing. Known as the “Notice of Findings and Decision” this is the hearing officer’s final word on the case.
The hearing officer will mail the written decision both to you and your DMV Defense Expert. Once the hearing officer’s decision is received, our obligation to you is far from over. We will remain vigilant and assist you through any “post hearing” issues that may arise.
If the decision is favorable, we will assist you in the immediate reinstatement of your driving privilege. On the other hand, if the DMV’s decision is negative, we will assist you in the steps necessary to work through the required period of suspension or revocation.
If the alleged act of fraud has resulted in a criminal prosecution, we will coordinate and work with your defense attorney to provide information and assistance.
In some instances, our follow-thru may include “post hearing” contact with the DMV hearing officer. It may also include our contact with the DMV’s legal Department or Mandatory Actions Unit to ensure the proper updating of your driving record.
Finally, if you have questions for weeks or even months following the end of your hearing, we will be there for you. Our representation does not end until you have completely fallen off the DMV’s radar and have moved on with your life.
Call CDA Now to Win Your Fraudulent Activity Hearing
If you have learned that the California DMV suspects you of fraudulent activity, it is critically important that you react immediately and correctly. There are very few attorneys or representatives in California who fully understand the process or the ramifications of a Fraudulent Activity allegation by the DMV.
California Drivers Advocates is a group of Administrative Law Specialists with specific experience in Fraudulent Activity Hearings. We earned our experience and training by getting it done; by actually conducting the hearings. This is a perfect example of trial by fire.
The DMV Defense Experts from California Drivers Advocates have conducted literally hundreds of Administrative Hearings throughout the State of California. Whether your hearing is in San Francisco, San Bernardino or San Diego, we have represented clients in all of the Driver Safety Offices in the state. We win Fraudulent Activity Hearings because we adhere to our four-step process and because we are completely devoted to quality representation. Call CDA now……… We’re ready to fight for you.