What is a DMV Fatality Hearing?
Of all the Administrative Hearings conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the most emotional and gut wrenching are the Fatality Hearings. The California Vehicle Code permits the suspension or revocation of any person’s driving privilege if they are involved in a traffic collision which results in the death or serious injury of another person. So, in addition to the physical and mental trauma already suffered in a traffic collision, you may also have your driving privilege completely stripped away if another person has died or has been seriously injured.
The Fatality Hearing occurs when the DMV labels you as a Negligent Operator. Essentially, the DMV will allege that because you were negligent in the operation of a motor vehicle you either “caused or contributed to” the death or serious injury of another person.
The Fatality Hearing is a formal, legal proceeding convened under the guidelines of California Administrative Law. The Fatality Hearing permits the accused driver the opportunity to defend themselves against the DMV’s intention to suspend or revoke the driver license. The DMV will present evidence and witnesses to support the suspension and the accused driver may present evidence and witnesses to rebut the allegation.
If you have been involved in a traffic collision where another person has died or been seriously hurt, you should make no mistake, the DMV will work to take you off the road; even if you were not found primarily at fault in the traffic collision. If the DMV determines that you “caused or contributed to” the fatal or serious injury traffic collision, you will be drawn into a Fatality Hearing or risk the automatic loss of your driving privilege.
What Happens if I Don’t Participate in a DMV Fatality Hearing?
If you have received notice that the DMV intends to suspend or revoke your driver license because you caused or contributed to a fatal or serious injury traffic collision, you have only one way to reverse this action. You MUST participate in a Fatality Hearing.If you ignore the “Notice of Suspension” or fail to schedule a Fatality Hearing, the DMV will suspend or revoke your driving privilege for a minimum period of one year. The term of suspension or revocation may be longer depending upon other factors, such as your driving record. If you fail to schedule the Fatality Hearing within the time specified by law, you forfeit your right to a Fatality Hearing or any of the appellate processes that could follow. Also, your license is NOT automatically reinstated after the one-year period. You would still be required to apply for reinstatement and be forced to file an SR-22 Insurance Form that would cause a tremendous increase in the cost of auto insurance
What Happens at a DMV Fatality Hearing?
As stated above the DMV Fatality Hearing is a formal, legal proceeding. The hearing is convened at the Driver Safety Office located closest to the driver’s home and is conducted by a DMV Hearing Officer, who is an employee of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The DMV Hearing Officer will open the Fatality Hearing by introducing the Department’s case, which normally consists of police reports, witness statements, and the driver’s individual driving record. At times, the hearing officer may enlist the testimony of the investigating law enforcement officer. The DMV will presume that all of its information and evidence is accurate and truthful. They will presume they possess good cause to suspend or revoke your driving privilege.
Then it becomes your turn. If you are well defended, you will be prepared to rebut the DMV’s case by presenting your own affirmative defense. If properly prepared, you will be able to introduce your own evidence, your own witnesses, and any relevant information to demonstrate that you did not cause or contribute to a fatal or serious injury traffic collision. All testimony is taken under oath and all evidence must be authenticated and accepted by the hearing officer to be considered. This requires that you be represented by a DMV Defense Expert who has a commanding knowledge of the Evidence Code, the Government Code, and the California Code of Procedures. If not properly prepared and introduced, all of your evidence could be excluded by the DMV Hearing Officer.
We Help You Win Your DMV Fatality Hearing?
The DMV Defense Team at California Drivers Advocates is a group of Administrative Law Advocates, Licensed Investigators, and Former Police Officers with years of experience preparing for and winning Fatality Hearings at the DMV.
A Fatality Hearing should not be attempted by the driver. Aggressive and thoughtful representation by experts in the field is the best way to protect your rights at a Fatality Hearing. Once we are retained, our DMV Defense Team will step forward and guide you through the emotional and overwhelming process of winning such a hearing. By using a structured, “step by step” approach to preparing your case, we will work to save your driving privilege. Call us Now. We Can Help!