Case History: California Drivers Advocates was engaged to defend a client whose driver license had been summarily suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV took an immediate suspension action against our client’s driving privilege after they received a Confidential Morbidity Report from an Emergency Room physician reporting that he had suffered a “Lapse of Consciousness or Control” while driving, that resulted in a traffic collision. The doctor’s report documented that our Client did not possess the physical/mental fitness to drive.
Our 72 year old client had emergency surgery in 1996 to repair an Aortic Dissection. As part of that surgery, the Aortic Valve was replaced. Ten years later in 2006, our Client underwent a second surgery to replace the Aortic valve again; this time with a metal valve. Although both surgeries were successful, any time a surgeon cuts into the pericardium of the heart, the result is the patient will be left with Atrial Fibrillation, and such was the case with our Client. Over the past twelve years, our Client has been very stable on his medications. In fact, he had only suffered episode of Atrial Fibrillation. In that case, he was able to quickly get in touch with his doctor who suggested he should take an additional dose of his medication. This worked wonderfully and within minutes, his heart had converted back to sinus rhythm.
On the day of his accident, our client enjoyed two slices of pizza and drank a can of Coke for lunch. Prior to eating, he tested his blood sugar and then performed a calculation based upon the number of carbohydrates he estimated in his meal. Unfortunately, his calculations were factored upon the fast acting insulin he had used previously; not for the new insulin. As a result, he injected too much of the new insulin. On his way home, our client’s blood sugar suddenly dropped and he crashed into a parked car.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because the Law Enforcement referral indicated that our client had suffered a “Lapse of Consciousness” while driving, the department presumed that his diabetes was not controlled and that he posed an immediate danger to the public. Based on that presumption, the DMV immediately suspended his driving privilege and challenged us to prove that he was safe to drive. It was the goal of the DMV to revoke our client’s driving privilege for an indeterminate period of time.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his “Lapse of Consciousness” hearing with the Van Nuys Driver Safety Office. Because the DMV had already moved to an immediate suspension, there was no opportunity to request a “Stay of Suspension.” This caused a sense of urgency as our client’s employment requires frequent driving.
Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine his complete medical history and the details of what had occurred. We then embarked on a structured and focused path to collect affirmative medical evidence for our case. At our direction, our client met with his Primary Care Doctor, an Endocrinologist, and an Optometrist. It was our goal to present valid medical evidence that there were no physical or mental conditions whatsoever that would prevent him from driving. We wanted to paint the picture that our client was a good and attentive diabetic patient who was now ever more committed to monitoring his condition. We also worked with our client to collect other relevant items of evidence to demonstrate he possessed the requisite skill to drive.
At the hearing, the hearing officer accepted all of our affirmative evidence without objection and considered the testimony of our client. Because we had worked so hard to prepare our client, he testified with great emotion and credibility which made our position clear. Our preparation was so complete that when it was time for the hearing officer to cross-examine our client, the hearing officer literally said, “Mr. Collier has covered everything, I have no questions.”
Just three days later, we received an Order of Set Aside or Reinstatement that terminated the suspension action and immediately returned our client to full driving privileges.
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The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates include former police officers, DMV Hearing Officers, Investigators and Scientists. Our training, our experience and our reputation provide any driver the best opportunity to win their Administrative Hearing.
If your driver license has been suspended because you suffer with a physical or mental condition characterized by a Lapse of Consciousness, don’t despair. Don’t let anyone convince you that you are in a hopeless situation. These hearings really can be won.