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Lapse of Consciousness

What is a DMV Lapse of Consciousness Hearing?

Known as a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing, this is a full-blown evidentiary proceeding where the driver may present evidence and witnesses. If the California Department of Motor Vehicles takes an action to suspend or revoke any person’s driving privilege because of a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, the affected driver is entitled to request an administrative hearing to rebut the DMV’s concern.

What is a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing at the DMV?

In California, anyone with a driver’s license, whether it’s a California Driver License or an out-of-state license, is monitored by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV ensures all drivers in the state possess the necessary skill, knowledge, and physical/mental fitness for driving. If the DMV suspects a driver lacks any of these, it will investigate to decide if there’s a valid reason to revoke their driving privileges.

The DMV may conduct a Re-Examination interview which is essentially an investigation they conduct prior to suspension.  On the other hand, if the information received comes from a physician or if the information suggests that a driver poses an immediate hazard to the public, the Department will bypass the re-examination process and move to immediate suspension.  If the re-examination process does not end favorably, or if the Department moves to immediate suspension, the driver is entitled to a full-blown Administrative Hearing to rebut the DMV’s case.

Keep in mind that a driver has the option to be represented by a proficient Administrative Advocate during these hearings.

One of the “Hot Button” issues for the DMV is any person who suffers a Lapse of Consciousness or Control.  Whether the event occurs while driving or not, the DMV’s concern is that any Lapse of Consciousness or Control, may indicate the presence of an underlying medical, physical or mental condition that could result in a catastrophic traffic accident.  In all cases, the DMV will seek to prevent such a tragedy from occurring.

Health and Safety Code Section 2806, defines a “Lapse of Consciousness” as those medical conditions that involve:

  1. A loss of consciousness or a marked reduction of alertness or responsiveness to external stimuli; and
  2. The inability to perform one or more activities of daily living; and
  3. The impairment of the sensory motor functions used to operate a motor vehicle.
  4. Examples of medical conditions that do not always, but may progress to the level of functional severity described in subsection (a) of this section include Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, seizure disorders, brain tumors, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and abnormal metabolic states, including hypo-and hyperglycemia associated with diabetes.

Health and Safety Code Section 103900 (a), makes it mandatory for all doctors to report such events to the DMV:

“Every physician and surgeon shall report immediately to the local health officer in writing, the name, date of birth, and address of every patient at least 14 years of age or older whom the physician and surgeon has diagnosed as having a case of a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness.

Some of the more common Physical or Mental conditions associated with a Lapse of Consciousness or Control are:

  • Epilepsy
  • Non Epileptic Seizure Disorder
  • Diabetes causing hypoglycemic events
  • Sleep Apnea and Narcolepsy causing excessive day-time sleepiness
  • Brain Tumors
  • Alzheimer’s Disease, Cognitive Decline or other forms of Dementia
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Habitual Use or addiction to drugs, alcohol or medication
  • Drug reaction
  • Fainting/Syncope
  • Stroke,
  • Change in Medical Regimen,
  • Cardiac Disorders
  • Pulmonary Disorders.

Lapse of Consciousness Hearing at the DMVThe DMV has the authority to suspend or revoke an individual’s driving privileges in cases where they have experienced a lapse of consciousness or control. A Lapse of Consciousness Hearing, also known as a Physical/Mental Hearing, is a proceeding conducted by the DMV in which a driver contests the DMV’s choice to suspend or revoke their driving license. In almost all cases, the accused driver will testify to establish his/her fitness to drive. Be aware that at these hearings, a driver has the option to be represented by an experienced Administrative Advocate. It is always advised to have legal representation to aid in the reinstatement of the driver’s privileges. In most cases, California drivers have neither the training or experience to handle such a hearing on their own, and the DMV will do little or nothing to assist a driver.

Once a driver learns their driving privilege has been suspended or revoked, they normally have a very narrow window of opportunity to schedule a hearing; normally within 14 days.  It is imperative that you act quickly to preserve your right to hearing otherwise the DMV will sustain the suspension and won’t give you an opportunity to fight.

This type of suspension is in place for an “indeterminate” period of time.  Essentially, this means your privilege to drive will remain suspended forever, or until you take the steps to reverse the action.  The burden is on the driver.

What Happens if I don’t Conduct a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing?

If your privilege to drive is important, taking no action is not a viable option.  As stated above, once the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspects that a person suffers from some form or physical or mental condition that can cause altered awareness or a Lapse of Consciousness, the Department will act swiftly to ensure the safety of the public by taking you off the road. If you take no action, you’re privilege to drive will be withdrawn and you simply must stop driving………. period!

And remember, once your license has been suspended for a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, there is not expiration date. You simply will be barred from driving until you take the steps to restore your driving privilege.

Don’t let the DMV steal your driving privilege without a fight.  There are scores of people driving on our roads right now who suffer with a myriad of physical and mental conditions because they are able to demonstrate they are medically stable and adhering to a medical treatment regimen.

What Happens at a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing?

First of all, remember that once a driver receives an Order of Suspension in the mail for a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, the law requires the driver to file a request for a hearing within 14 days or the matter is closed.  If your driver license has been suspended, contact the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates (CDA) immediately to ensure your right to a hearing is preserved.

Once your hearing has been scheduled, CDA will then work to put you on the road to success.  Any good Lapse of Consciousness Hearing consists of three primary elements: Documentary Evidence,  Testimonial Evidence, and a Legal Argument.  Each of these steps is vital and must be properly addressed:

Documentary Evidence: At these hearings, drivers achieve their objectives through the presentation of medical documents and corroborating testimony. This may include visits with several physicians and other medical professionals to establish that all medical conditions are stable. This can also include the collection of other items of evidence and sworn declarations from friends and family to establish your fitness to drive.  All of this is established on forms and in formats acceptable by the DMV.

If presented properly, favorable medical evidence can be the difference between winning and losing your hearing.  It is also critical that you be completely versed in what the medical evidence documents as you may be questioned about that evidence.

Testimonial Evidence:  As your hearing approaches, your Administrative Advocate will very carefully prepare you for testimony.  Because you will appear as your Advocate’s witness, you can be fully prepared to answer questions under direct and cross examination.  Being fully prepared will assist you in answering questions intelligently and with great credibility.  Being ready to answer questions from the hearing officer during cross-examination is vital as well.  Hearing Officers are trained to suspect that drivers will be evasive and will withhold negative information, so it is critical that you be properly prepared for cross-examination.

Legal Argument:  The last step in your Lapse of Consciousness Hearing is a Legal Argument.  With decades of experience handling this type of hearing, your CDA Administrative Advocate is well versed in all aspects of the California Vehicle Code, the Government Code, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the California Code of Regulations.  Your Advocate understands the power of the law and understands how to use these codes to your advantage.  Beyond the basic laws involved, your Advocate will highlight those facts that make your case unique.  This is where we add personality to your case.  Your closing argument is basically where your Advocate uses law, facts, and personality to wrap your case up and to argue why you should be returned to driving.  This step is vital as it is the final comment the Hearing Officer will hear before the hearing ends.

You should make no mistake, these hearings are complicated legal proceedings where evidence is identified and introduced.  Expert witnesses may testify and legal arguments are heard.  There are certain DMV protocols in place which can be disastrous to a defense team if they are not aware of these rules.  For example, when a driver has suffered a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, the DMV requires that the driver establish a 90-day period of control.  This means that for a period of 90-days, the driver has not experienced another medical episode and that there have been no changes in primary medications.  If you conduct your Lapse of Consciousness Hearing before you establish a 90-day period of control, you are sure to lose.  It is important that you be represented by someone who has a long-history of winning this type of hearing and who understand the DMV’s habits.   Don’t despair…. With proper representation these hearings can be won.

You Must Participate

If an accused driver takes no action to defend themselves, their driving privilege will remain withdrawn for an indeterminate period of time. This essentially means FOREVER.

The DMV Hearing

If your driver license has been suspended, contact the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates immediately to ensure your right to a hearing is preserved.

DMV Defense Team

It is important that you be represented by someone who has a long-history of winning this type of hearing. Don’t despair…. These things can be won.

FAQs about a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing at the DMV

1. What triggers a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing at the DMV? When the California DMV suspects a driver might lack the necessary skill, knowledge, or physical/mental fitness due to a lapse of consciousness or control, it may investigate. Such lapses could indicate medical, physical, or mental conditions posing risks on the road. Primarily the DMV learns of such issues from physicians, law enforcement officers or even the driver’s own family.

2. What happens during the DMV’s investigation? The DMV might conduct a Re-Examination Interview or, based on physician reports or immediate public hazard concerns, move directly to suspension. If the DMV moves to immediate suspension,, a formal Administrative Hearing is offered to challenge the DMV’s decision.

3. Can drivers have legal representation at these hearings? Yes, drivers are encouraged to have experienced Administrative Advocates represent them at the hearings to better navigate the complexities and aim for reinstatement of driving privileges.

4. What is considered a “Lapse of Consciousness”? Defined by Health and Safety Code Section 2806, it includes loss of consciousness, marked reduction of alertness, inability to perform daily activities, and impaired motor functions for driving. Conditions like epilepsy, diabetes, and sleep apnea are examples.

5. Are physicians required to report lapses of consciousness? Yes, according to Health and Safety Code Section 103900 (a), physicians must report any diagnosed lapses of consciousness in patients aged 14 and older to the DMV immediately.

6. What are the consequences of not conducting a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing? Ignoring the DMV’s Order of Suspension or Revocation action means losing driving privileges indefinitely, until steps are taken to restore them. Immediate action is essential upon learning of an Order Suspension or Revocation.

7. What is the benefit of a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing? It’s a critical opportunity for drivers to present documentary evidence, testimonial evidence, and legal arguments, proving their fitness to drive and medical stability. This includes medical records, witness testimony, and legal expertise to navigate DMV protocols effectively.

8. What’s vital for success at these hearings? A thorough investigation and preparation involving medical evidence collection, testimonial readiness, and a strong legal argument is key. Representation by professionals familiar with DMV hearings can significantly increase chances of regaining driving privileges.

Call CDA Today……… We can guide you through the maze of the DMV.

Conducting a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing can be a harrowing experience that can be made even worse by the uncaring attitude of the DMV.  Not understanding the DMV hearing process and not knowing where to turn for help can cause many drivers to simply give up out of frustration.  Don’t let this happen to you.  There are literally thousands of drivers on California roads to today with a wide variety of medical problems because they were able to convince the DMV of their physical and mental fitness to drive.  We can help you establish your fitness to drive. We can get you back on the road.

The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates have been representing California Drivers for decades.  We know every game played by the DMV and know how to present a winning defense to 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.

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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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