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 after they received a Confidential Morbidity Report from an emergency room physician reporting that our client had suffered a Lapse of Consciousness while driving an automobile, resulting in a traffic collision.
Our 33 year old client was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 19. Over the course of 14 years, he had never experienced any severe episodes of low-blood sugar, and as a result, he had become complacent in the frequency of testing his blood sugar. The night before his traffic collision, our client had suffered with a terrible bout of diabetic diarrhea that completely depleted his body of electrolytes and other vital enzymes. When he woke up on the morning of his accident, he was running late. He did not eat breakfast, did not check his blood-sugar and did not take his required injection of Lantus (Insulin). These oversights set the stage for disaster.
Our client went out the door and headed for work. 15 minutes later, his blood sugar plummeted and he suffered a lapse of consciousness which caused him to crash into a guard rail. When paramedics arrived on-scene and tested his blood-sugar, his levels were so low that it didn’t even register on the testing meter.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because the information provided by the treating emergency room physician was that our client had suffered a “black out” while driving, it was presumed he posed an immediate hazard to the motoring public and must not continue driving. The DMV’s plan was to completely suspend/revoke the driver license for an undetermined period of time.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his “Lapse of Consciousness” hearing with the appropriate Driver Safety Office.
Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine his 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. Our client met with a specific series of physicians for medical examinations and then we encouraged the physicians to prepare Drivers Medical Evaluations to address each of their individual areas of medical expertise. In each case, the reporting physicians concluded that our client’s episode of hypo-glycemia was isolated and completely preventable. Each doctor concluded that the single episode was not an indicator of future problems and each doctor cleared him for driving.
The Outcome: After weeks of preparation, we were prepared to present our case. Because experience has taught us that DMV hearing officers will unexpectedly direct a driver to take a written test and a vision test, we had our client prepared. When we entered the Driver Safety Office, there was a last minute requirement for the written and vision test. Our client was prepared and so he aced both.
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. When it came time for the hearing officer to cross-examine our client, she stated that our presentation had been so comprehensive that she had no questions. Our client’s driving privilege was fully reinstated that same day.
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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. These hearings really can be won and we can get you there.