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Why will the DMV deny me the privilege to drive because of vision problems?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is an enormously powerful government agency empowered to grant the privilege to drive to those persons who meet the minimum standards necessary for driving.  What few Californian’s realize is just how much power the DMV also has to strip the driving privilege of any person who does not maintain the Skill, the Knowledge, or the Physical/Mental Fitness to drive.

There is no question the safe operation of a motor vehicle requires that a driver possess the ability to “multi-task” in a variety of different categories.  The driver must maintain good vision, good hearing, and good overall health.  This person must also have skills in comprehension, eye-hand coordination, and the ability to identify and react to hazards on the road.

Vision is one of the most profound strengths a driver must maintain because the ability to see and react to changes in traffic are tantamount to protecting the public.  If the DMV suspects  your vision does not meet minimum standards, it has the power to withdraw your driving privilege until such time as it can be determined you are safe to return to the road.

The DMV has suspended my driver license for vision problems.  What do I do?

All California drivers are entitled to Procedural Due Process under the law before a driving privilege may be withdrawn. Driving has always been respected by our courts as having great practical importance.  It has been, and remains, a right that is subject to substantive police power regulation consistent with Procedural Due Process.  In the case of Berlinghieri v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1983), the Supreme Court of California declared that the privilege of driving, once acquired, is a fundamental vested right that requires Procedural Due Process to remove.  Any decision made by the DMV cannot be arbitrary and capricious; however, must be based in law.

Basically, the law indicates that stripping a person of their privilege to drive is a BIG DEAL and may only be done after the accused driver has been provided the opportunity to defend themselves.  The law also recognizes that the operation of a motor vehicle is an inherently dangerous act that requires all to drivers maintain the ability to drive safely.

If the California Department of Motor Vehicles has withdrawn your privilege to drive because of its belief you have a problem with vision, do not despair.  There are a multitude of people driving our highways each day with limited or poor vision but, they are able to maintain their privilege to drive because they can establish their vision issues are stable and they have adapted to their condition.

If you have received an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” from the California DMV, this is telling you the department has already begun the process of removing you from the road because they belief your vision issues make you unsafe to drive.

When you receive your Order of Suspension, read it carefully.  It will tell you three important things:

  • Why the DMV is taking this action and what authority they are using to do so.
  • The actual date the suspension becomes effective. It is illegal for you to drive when your license is suspended.
  • That you have a right to an administrative hearing to regain your driving privilege.

The law requires that you contact the Driver Safety Office nearest to your home within 14 days of the date when your order was written.  You must request an administrative hearing to present evidence and testimony of your fitness to drive.

DMV administrative hearings are complicated legal proceedings run much like a mini trial.  At such a hearing evidence is introduced, witnesses and drivers testify, and legal arguments are waged. Successful defense at such a hearing requires that a person have a commanding knowledge of the Vehicle Code, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the California Code of Civil Procedure.  It is not common for the average California driver to possess this base of knowledge so; it may be in your best interest to seek the representation of a DMV Defense Expert.

California Drivers Advocates (CDA) has been successfully representing drivers in all forms of DMV Administrative Hearings for decades and we are sure we can help you.  If the DMV has served you with an Order of Suspension/Revocation you should take it seriously. The DMV is not suggesting they may take an action against you;  it has already begun.  Call the DMV Defense Experts at CDA for a free consultation.  Let us use our training and experience to get you back on the road.

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