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What is a Lack of Skill Hearing?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is an enormously powerful government agency empowered to issue driver licenses to qualified drivers within the State of California.  The DMV is also permitted the nearly unbridled power to suspend or revoke the driving privilege of any person whom they feel do not meet the standards necessary to operate a motor vehicle. As a person moves through their lives, the California DMV will constantly monitor their driving behavior to ensure they maintain three critical strengths: The knowledge to drive, The Skill to drive and The Physical and Mental Fitness to drive.

If at any point the DMV concludes that a person has lost one of these strengths, the department will presume they are unsafe to drive and will either begin an investigation (also known as a re-examination) or will move to immediately suspend the driving privilege of the accused driver.

In this chapter we discuss what happens when the California DMV suspects a person Lacks the Skill to drive.  The category of Lack of Skill is an extremely broad focus of the DMV that can be triggered by a wide range of issues: Failure to pass a written test, Failure to pass a driving test, Certain Traffic Collisions, Law Enforcement Referrals for bad driving, Violation of driving probation and or Road Rage.

In almost all instances, a driver will learn they have become the focus of a DMV action when they receive an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail.  This is often a complete surprise to the driver and the sudden threat to their driving privilege can be shocking.  Fortunately, the law does permit the accused driver to appear at an Administrative Hearing to present evidence and testimony in an attempt to rebut the DMV suspension.  Known as a Lack of Skill Hearing, these proceedings are full evidentiary hearings where the driver can present evidence and witnesses. He or she will likely be required to testify and be cross-examined.  One should make no mistake; these hearings are run like mini-trials.  Most California drivers do not possess the training or experience necessary to prevail at such a hearing and so it is highly recommended that drivers seek the assistance of an Administrative Advocate.

What happens if I do not schedule a Lack of Skill Hearing?

If a driver receives an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail alleging that they Lack the Skill to Drive, they have just been put on notice that the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has initiated an action to remove them from the road.  These is not a warning that the DMV MAY take an action.  It has already begun.  Essentially the driver has two choices: Defend themselves by requesting a Lack of Skill Hearing or Take no action.

Defense: If a driver values their privilege to drive and wishes to defend themselves at an administrative hearing, it is imperative that they act quickly. The Order of Suspension/Revocation will clearly indicate that the driver (or their representative) must contact the Driver Safety Office within 14 days to request a hearing.

If such a hearing is requested in a timely manner, the DMV must schedule the hearing and permit the driver to review any evidence to be presented by the Department. The driver is then permitted the time necessary to prepare a robust defense.

No Action: If a driver elects to ignore the Order of Suspension/Revocation and take no action, their driving privilege will be withdrawn and they must terminate driving.  In such a case, the suspension/revocation of the driving privilege is for an “indeterminate” period of time.  This means the driving privilege remains suspended forever, or until the driver takes the action necessary to re-open the matter and address the underlying issue.

What happens at a Lack of Skill Hearing?

As stated above, a proper Lack of Skill Hearing looks much like a mini-trial.  Evidence is presented and discussed.  Witnesses and experts may appear to offer testimony.  A driver may be subject to vision, written and drive testing. Finally, a driver should expect to be directly examined and cross examined, so preparation for testimony is vital.

Assuming a driver has properly collected relevant evidence; and assuming the driver has provided the DMV advance notice of the evidence, the hearing will begin with the DMV presenting its case.  Much like what happens in a court case, the DMV must present its evidence or information they are using to suspend the license. At that point, the driver is given an opportunity to present their case.

Negligent Operator

If a driver elects to ignore the Order of Suspension/Revocation and take no action, their driving privilege will be withdrawn and they must terminate driving.

Lack of Skill Hearing

The Lack of Skill Hearing is run in strict accordance to the Administrative Procedures Act, the Evidence Code, and the California Code of Regulations.

DMV Defense Professionals

We will contact the DMV immediately to preserve your right to an administrative hearing and to ensure your driving privilege is extended until the hearing can be conducted.

The hearing is presided over by a DMV Hearing Officer.  In the world of the DMV, this person wields the same power as a Superior Court Judge.  The hearing officer is considered to be an “independent trier of fact”, however, that could not be farther from the truth.  The hearing officers tend to be curt and overbearing. There have been instances where certain hearing officers have been completely abusive.

The Lack of Skill Hearing is run in strict accordance to the Administrative Procedures Act, the Evidence Code, and the California Code of Regulations.  Because few California drivers are versed in this type of hearing, and because DMV hearing officers will do little, if anything, to help, it is in the driver’s best interest to be represented by a DMV Defense Expert.

Call CDA Today……… We specialize in Lack of Skill Hearings

The DMV Defense team from California Drivers Advocates is comprised of Administrative Advocates, former police officers, former DMV Hearing Officers, scientists and investigators. Each team member works within their area of expertise and then brings their training and experience together with other members of the team to create a truly remarkable group of experts.

We have been handling every type of Administrative Hearing conducted by the DMV for decades and we specialize in the Lack of Skill Hearing.  Whether you’re a 16 year old driver who was caught driving in violation of your provisional license; or you’re a 75 year old retiree whose foot slipped off the brake onto the accelerator causing a crash, we can help.  In our experience, many accused drivers do not Lack the Skill to drive, the have either developed bad driving habits or have been unlucky.  Let the DMV Defense Experts from CDA guide you through the maze of the DMV and get you back on the road.




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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