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The DMV Re-Examination Process

What is the Re-Examination Process at the DMV?

Whenever a California resident seeks to be awarded the California Driver License they must pass a rigorous application process which is designed to establish four criteria:

  • The process must establish the true identity of the applicant;
  • The process must establish the applicant is a true resident of the State of California;
  • The process must establish the applicant possesses the knowledge to drive a vehicle;
  • The process must establish the applicant possesses the skill to drive a vehicle.

The initial application process for the issuance of the California Driver License is known as the Examination process. Those applicants who prove all four of those criteria may be issued the coveted California Driver License.

Throughout that person’s entire driving life, however, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) remains in the role of “Big Brother.” Acting as Big Brother, the DMV will stand in the shadows and continuously monitor a person’s driving history, criminal history; as well their physical and mental history to ensure they remain capable of safely driving a motor vehicle. If at any point, the DMV receives information which suggests a person has become a negligent or inattentive driver; or that the person’s physical or mental health has changed or deteriorated, the DMV can draw that person back into a re-evaluation process to determine if the driving privilege should be withdrawn. This process of re-evaluating a driver is known as the “Re-Examination” process.

The DMV will initiate the Re-Examination process of a driver if it receives information from any source that a person may no longer be safe to drive. The DMV classically will receive worrisome information from:

  • Law Enforcement Officers
  • Judges
  • Medical professionals
  • Friends, neighbors or family members
  • Media
  • A person’s driving record
  • The individual driver
  • Sources who wish to remain anonymous

If the DMV receives information from any source that you may not be safe to drive, you can expect to be Re-Examined.

How Does the Re-Examination Process Work?

As stated above, the DMV will call a driver in for Re-Examination if the department has received information from any source that an individual driver may no longer possess the knowledge, skill, or ability to drive a motor vehicle.

In the vast majority of cases, the Re-Examination Process is a two-stage process:

Stage One:                  The Re-Examination “Interview.”

Stage Two:                 The Re-Examination “Hearing.”

The Re-Examination Interview:

We have always believed that the “interview” stage of the Re-Examination process should be called the “Investigation” because that is precisely what is occurring. To be blunt, the “interview” stage allows the DMV to conduct an investigation of any driver to determine if there is cause to suspend the driver license. This allows the DMV to stick their nose into your life and to make what is really an arbitrary assessment of one’s ability to drive. At this stage, the DMV holds all the control. The involved driver IS NOT entitled to legal representation at the Re-Examination Interview because the DMV has not yet made a determination to suspend the driver license. The California Vehicle Code mandates that all drivers cooperate and participate in the DMV’s “interview” or risk the suspension/revocation of their driver license.

The bottom line is that if you have been summoned into a DMV Re-Examination Interview, you must participate and you are not entitled to representation. That being said, the “interview” stage of the Re-Examination process is the most informal and relaxed of all DMV proceedings.

Special Note: Although the DMV has the power to prohibit anyone else from being present during the “interview,” many DMV Hearing Officers will allow a representative to be present in the interview for the sole purpose of being a witness; but they cannot participate.

Because the “interview” stage allows the DMV to conduct an investigation, the Hearing Officer has the power to utilize several different tools to evaluate a driver. The hearing officer may:

  • Direct that the driver take a written test involving the knowledge of driving laws and recognizing road signs;
  • Direct that the driver submit to a vision test;
  • Direct that the driver submit medical information;
  • Direct that the driver be interviewed.

Many drivers are frustrated by the Re-Examination “interview” because they are completely unprepared to take a written test or to be interviewed by a DMV hearing officer who may be short-tempered, rude and condescending. The DMV hearing officers are trained to be suspicious and to expect drivers to be evasive when answering questions. Many hearing officers see the “interview” as an opportunity to agitate a person to determine how well they manage stress. Thus, many drivers will walk away from an “interview” feeling beaten up and disillusioned.

The true focus of the interview, however, is for the DMV hearing officer to make a judgement as to whether or not there is good cause for removing the driver from the road.

When the Re-Examination Interview concludes, the hearing officer rarely announces their decision immediately. In most cases, the hearing officer will advise the driver that he/she is taking the matter under consideration and that a written decision will be arriving in the mail shortly. With the Re-Examination Interview concluded, the hearing officer may;

  • Terminate any further action against the driver and allow them to continue driving;
  • Suspend or Revoke the driver license; which then permits the driver to enter Stage-Two of the Re-Examination Process, known as the Re-Examination Hearing.

Special Note:  If the original information received is egregious enough to suggest that a person’s driving is an immediate hazard to the public, the DMV has the power to by-pass the “interview” stage altogether and go right to suspension. This happens most often when the DMV receives notification from a medical professional that a physical or mental condition exists that may affect a person’s ability to drive.

The Re-Examination Hearing:

The Re-Examination “Hearing” occurs when the DMV has suspended a person’s driving privilege because the department believes the driver no longer possesses the knowledge, skill or ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The Re-Examination Hearing is a full-blown legal proceeding where exhibits are introduced, evidence is considered, witnesses may testify and legal arguments are filed. This is a true evidentiary hearing that is run much like a mini-trial.

If you find yourself entering the Re-Examination Hearing stage, do not despair. Many of these hearings can be won and a person may be returned to driving. Most importantly, at the Re-Examination Hearing, you are entitled to be represented by an expert in DMV Defense; you no longer have to face the DMV alone.

Make no mistake, the Re-Examination process can be exhausting, frustrating and lengthy. Depending upon the issues causing the driver license suspension, a properly presented Re-Examination Hearing can take from one-month to one-year to reach conclusion.   The average life of a Re-Examination Hearing is about 90 days.

If you are headed toward a Re-Examination Hearing, you should take the steps to engage a DMV Defense Expert from California Drivers Advocates (CDA) to begin preparing for your hearing. The best way to ensure that you are returned to full driving privileges is to overwhelm the DMV with positive information and evidence which addresses every conceivable concern they may have. Medical evidence, physical evidence, witness statements, case evaluation and preparation for testimony are all key elements to properly planning for a Re-Examination Hearing. The Re-Examination Hearing is the best opportunity for you and your representative to prove that you are capable of safely driving.

As part of the Re-Examination Hearing, the assigned hearing officer has the power to:

  • Require the driver to take a written test even if they had previously tested as part of the “interview” process;
  • Require the driver to take a vision test;
  • Present the department’s own exhibits and/or evidence in support of the license suspension;
  • Require the driver to take a “behind the wheel” driving test.

When the Re-Examination Hearing concludes, the DMV hearing officer possesses broad power in effecting the driver’s privilege to drive. In concluding the Re-Examination Hearing, the DMV hearing officer may:

  • Set Aside any further action and reinstate the driving privilege without restriction.
  • Terminate the suspension action and place the driver on medical probation.
  • Terminate the suspension action and place the driver on a “restricted” privilege prohibiting certain driving (i.e. no driving at night or on freeways).
  • Sustain the Suspension/Revocation of the Driver License.

Special Note: If the DMV sustains the suspension/revocation action, all is not lost. You have a right to re-open your case with the DMV if you can prove a period of stability or if your physical or mental condition improves. Normally this requires a period of at least 94 days before you can file a request to re-open a case.

How Can I Win a DMV Re-Examination?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the government entity empowered with the authority to grant a driving privilege and to take it away. The DMV’s published position is that they will assist drivers in keeping or regaining their driving privilege whenever possible. The reality, however, is the DMV is not set up to be “user friendly” and does very little to assist drivers in navigating the Re-Examination Process.

If you find yourself drawn into the DMV’s Re-Examination Process, call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates. If you are set for a Re-Examination Interview, we will give you advice on preparing to face the DMV. If you are set for a Re-Examination Hearing, we can be engaged to assist you and represent you every step of the way.

Don’t face the DMV alone. Call CDA today.

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