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 referral from a Law Enforcement Officer reporting that he had suffered a “Lapse of Consciousness or Control” while driving caused by an episode of “Low Blood Sugar.”
Our 66 year old client was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 30. Over the course of 33 years, he had remained completely compliant with his doctor’s treatment regimen and had remained consistent in testing his blood sugar levels. For many years, our client had been injecting the same “long acting” insulin at night and “fast acting” insulin just prior to meals. Just 6 days prior to his Lapse of Consciousness, our client was following his doctor’s advice when he allowed himself to be fitted with an insulin pump for continuous insulin maintenance.
On the day of his incident, our client was faced with the task of refilling the insulin pump’s reservoir for the first time. The manufacturer’s guidelines specifically direct that a diabetic patient detach the pump from one’s body prior to refilling the reservoir to prevent the accidental injection of a bolus of insulin. Being brand new to the use of an insulin pump, our client left the device attached to his body while recharging the reservoir and he did, in fact, unknowingly inject himself with more than 35 units of insulin.
Not knowing that he had accidentally overdosed himself on insulin, our client left his home and drove to a local market to do some shopping. On the way home, the overdose of insulin caused his blood sugar to plummet and our client quickly began to recognize the symptoms of a hypoglycemic event. His vision became blurry and he began to sweat profusely. Realizing what was happening; our Client very quickly pulled his car to the side of the road and parked legally. He left the engine running for the use of the air conditioner and then lay his head back to rest. Evidently, he lost consciousness and was still unconscious when a Good Samaritan became concerned and called for emergency aid. Responding paramedics discovered our Client’s blood/sugar was at 21 and immediately initiated emergency aid to stabilize him.
Because the event resulted in a brief hospital stay, a responding police officer reported the Lapse of Consciousness to the DMV and our Client’s driving privilege was immediately suspended.
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 DMV’s goal to permanently remove him from the road until we could prove that he was safe to resume driving.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his “Lapse of Consciousness” hearing with the Stockton Driver Safety Office. Because the DMV had already moved to an immediate suspension, there was no opportunity to request a “Stay of Suspension.” Our client is employed as a manager for a major utility company and driving is a critical element of his job. Any time off the road would create a huge burden on his employment and therefore he asked that we work as quickly as possible.
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 sought to explain his hypoglycemic event as an isolated event that he completely understood and therefore was entirely preventable.
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 asked one question. Because the DMV’s case was initiated by a Law Enforcement referral, it is DMV policy to require the affected driver to take a “behind the wheel” test. Based on our strong presentation, however, the Hearing Officer ruled that our client’s driving privilege would be immediately reinstated if he passed the driving test.
Just five days later, our client appeared for this driving test in the City of Tracy and passed with Flying Colors. He arrived at the DMV Field Office with a suspended license and drove away one-hour later with a fully reinstated privilege.
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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. There are literally thousands of people driving on California highways today with Diabetes. Don’t let the DMV steal your freedom without a fight.