Case History: California Drivers Advocates was engaged to assist a physician whose driver license was in jeopardy of being suspended for violation of California’s compulsory Financial Responsibility Law. The 42 year old medical doctor was involved in a minor traffic collision in the area of Oakland on December 1, 2015.
While driving in bumper to bumper traffic, a car suddenly stopped in front of our client and he rear-ended the other car at a speed under 5 mph. After the collision, both drivers pulled to the edge of the road to exchange information. Unfortunately, our Client’s auto insurance had lapsed because of an incomplete electronic payment to the insurance company.
Although there were no injuries and no damage to either vehicle, the other driver felt it was his obligation to report the accident to the DMV by filing a DMV Form SR-1. When the Department received the SR-1 from the other driver, it conducted an investigation and discovered that our client’s insurance had lapsed.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. If the driver was involved in a traffic collision causing injury to another party or damages exceeding $1000 dollars; and if that driver did not possesses valid California Auto Insurance at the time, there is a violation of the law. Upon a finding that the driver had violated the Financial Responsibility Law, the DMV would seek to suspend his driver license for one year.
Our Defense: Our position was equally clear. Although a traffic accident had occurred, and although our client was not insured as a result of a book keeping error; there was still no violation of the law. Our contention was that while an accident did occur, it was not a “reportable” accident as defined by the California Vehicle Code, because there were no injuries and no damages exceeding $1000.
After an extensive investigation and after alerting the DMV that we were prepared to proceed, we entered the Financial Responsibility in our client’s absence. It was our judgement that allowing our client to testify would serve no purpose and could only create more problems. When the DMV hearing officer opened the hearing, we were completely prepared. We objected to all of the DMV’s exhibits and effectively cross-examined the driver of the other car. We completely shut down the DMV’s case.
Outcome: At the conclusion of the hearing, the DMV hearing officer took the matter under submission and our client’s driving privilege was extended while the hearing officer pondered her decision. After waiting for five weeks, we received the DMV decision in the mail. The hearing officer completely accepted our argument and dismissed the case against our client by issuing an “Order of Set Aside.”
Our client’s driving privilege was fully reinstated without restriction. He is now legally driving with proper auto insurance.
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