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DMV Special Certificate

What is a DMV Special Certificate?

As a driver progresses into careers that may require the operation of specialized vehicles, the transportation of passengers or, the transportation of hazardous cargo, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will require these more advanced drivers to hold special classes of driver license, special endorsements or even “Special Certificates.” As a driver becomes increasingly more responsible for the transportation of people or hazardous materials, the DMV becomes more sensitive to ensuring that these drivers are more highly trained and that they are held to a higher standard of performance and public trust than the average “day to day” driver.

The Special Certificate is a completely separate document that a specialized driver must possess, in addition to his or her driver license. Unlike an endorsement, which permits the operation of certain classes of vehicle, the Special Certificate permits the operation of a specific type of vehicle. The Special Certificate is only issued to the most highly trained and trusted of professional drivers because of their responsibility to transport highly volatile materials or particularly vulnerable passengers.

Because of the “public trust” associated with the Special Certificate, these drivers are held to the highest standards of training, physical and mental health, performance, and reputation. Each Special Certificate has specific requirements which are tailored to ensure the safe transportation of a specific passenger group or hazardous cargo.

The DMV Special Certificate represents the pinnacle of professional drivers. These certificates are hard to earn but very easy to lose if a driver establishes a pattern of negligent operation, suffers from deteriorating health, or is involved in actions or incidents that are deemed contrary to the morale expectations of the public.The DMV receives information from: The DMV Commercial Driver License, California Highway Patrol, Federal, State, County & Local Law Enforcement, DOJ, Homeland Security, Physicians & Medical Professionals, Insurance Companies, Friends, Neighbors & Family, Media reports, & Anonymous Sources.

The most common type of DMV Special Certificates and their abbreviations are:Ambulance (AMB), Farm Labor Vehicle (FLV), General Public Paratransit Vehicle (GPPV), Hazardous Agricultural Materials (HAM), Radioactive Materials (RM), School Bus (SCH), School Pupils Activity Bus (SPAB), Vehicle for Developmentally Disabled Persons (VDDP), Youth Bus (YOB) & Tow Truck Driver Clearance (TTD).

How Can My Special Certificate be Refused, Suspended, or Revoked?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles will refuse to grant the application for a Special Certificate or, will act to suspend or revoke an already existing Special Certificate, if it suspects a person no longer meets the “higher standard” imposed upon this trusted class of driver. The DMV receives and considers information from a variety of sources that it uses to assess the worthiness of a person applying for the issuance of a Special Certificate or the continued certification of a driver who already holds a Special Certificate.

If the DMV receives information from any source suggesting that a person applying for a Special Certificate (or already in possession of a previously issued Special Certificate), does not meet the standards required to hold a Special Certificate, the Department will mail an “Order of Refusal/Suspension/Revocation” to the involved driver announcing its intention to deny or strip them of the Special Certificate.

How Can I Fight for My DMV Special Certificate?

If you have received information that the California Department of Motor Vehicles is denying your application for a Special Certificate; or, if the DMV has notified you that they seek to suspend or revoke an existing Special Certificate, you must be prepared to react quickly. There is always a “time sensitive” element to dealing with the DMV. In almost all instances, you must contact the DMV and request a “Special Certificate Hearing” within 14 days of the receipt of the notice (10 days for the Ambulance Drivers Certificate) or the suspension or revocation of your Special Certificate will automatically take effect.

At the same time the request for hearing is made, a request to “Stay” the suspension or revocation should be filed so that you may continue operating specialized vehicles until the outcome of the Special Certificate Hearing. For those drivers holding a School Bus Certificate, the DMV’s decision to grant or deny a Stay of Suspension is often predicated upon the safety of the students to be transported. It is common for the DMV to deny the request to Stay the Suspension on a School Bus Certificate because young children are such a precious and vulnerable segment of society. Also, the DMV will automatically deny the request to “Stay” the suspension of a temporary certificate; they will only entertain the possibility of staying the suspension of an already existing certificate.The DMV’s suspension of your Special Certificate is automatic. Defending yourself is not. If your Special Certificate is important to you, telephone the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates. We are ready to fight for your driving future.

Order of Refusal/Suspension/Revocation

…the Department will mail an “Order of Refusal/Suspension/Revocation” to the involved driver announcing its intention to deny or strip them of the Special Certificate.

DMV Defense Professionals

A DMV Defense Expert from CDA can appear at the Special Certificate Hearing beside you and can represent you through the process.

DMV Hearing to Maintain your Certificate

In almost all instances, you must contact the DMV and request a “Special Certificate Hearing” within 14 days of the receipt of the notice….

How We Defend Your DMV Special Certificate?

At the DMV Special Certificate Hearing, the hearing officer will present the DMV’s case. They are permitted to introduce official records of the department as well as other reports or records from government agencies, employers, or other sources. Your representative from CDA is an expert in objecting to the introduction of these reports and minimizing the evidence against you.

Your DMV Defense Expert from CDA will appear at the Special Certificate Hearing beside you and will represent you through the process. As the “Respondent” you are permitted to introduce your own evidence to “rebut” the DMV’s position. Unlike APS Hearings and basic Negligent Operator Hearings, the DMV Hearing Officer is not the final decision maker in a Special Certificate Hearing. In an APS Hearing for example, the Hearing Officer has the ultimate power to decide the fate of one’s driving privilege. At a Special Certificate Hearing, however, the Hearing Officer is only permitted to make a recommendation to a review board. The Special Certificate Review Board meets once a month and reviews the recommendations of Hearing Officers from across the State. It is the Special Certificate Review Board who renders a final decision in the matter.




Quality DMV Defense isn’t something we preach, it’s what we practice. Our team is highly trained and experienced in every facet of our industry. This means that you’re in the best possible hands and protected by a team of professionals who care. 


When it comes to protecting your driving privilege, results are everything. We’ve conducted scores of DMV Administrative Hearings and our results are among the best in the State. Our goal is to win and that means you keep driving.

Payment Options

Quality DMV Defense isn’t something you plan on needing. If you need quality representation but funds aren’t available you shouldn’t compromise on your future. We offer a variety of payment plans to fit your needs, including Retainer Fund.
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