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DMV Victory – Negligent Operator Hearing – San Diego Driver Safety Office

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Case History: California Drivers Advocates was engaged to defend a client whose driver license was in jeopardy of being suspended because the Department of Motor Vehicles had identified him as a Negligent Operator after the department received information from the CHP that he had engaged in a “road rage” incident on the freeway.

On the morning of January 25, 2016, our client was driving from San Diego to his job site in northern San Diego County.  As he drove northbound in the fast lane of the 5 freeway, he encountered a long line of slowly moving vehicles that were being delayed by a driver who was driving well below the speed limit.  Our client trailed this line of cars for well over ten miles as each successive driver passed the slowly moving vehicle.

Case History: California Drivers Advocates was engaged to defend a client whose driver license was in jeopardy of being suspended because the Department of Motor Vehicles had identified him as a Negligent Operator after the department received information from the CHP that he had engaged in a “road rage” incident on the freeway.

On the morning of January 25, 2016, our client was driving from San Diego to his job site in northern San Diego County.  As he drove northbound in the fast lane of the 5 freeway, he encountered a long line of slowly moving vehicles that were being delayed by a driver who was driving well below the speed limit.  Our client trailed this line of cars for well over ten miles as each successive driver passed the slowly moving vehicle.

When it became our client’s turn to pass the rude motorist, he pulled back into the fast lane in front of the other driver and then made the inappropriate decision to remove his foot from the accelerator and slow down in front of the other driver.  Our client would later testify that he was frustrated and just wanted to show the driver how it felt to be held up.  Unfortunately, things didn’t go well and the other driver then passed our client, and in doing so sideswiped our client’s car causing damage.  With that, the other driver sped off in an evident attempt to avoid identification.

Our client made the second inappropriate decision to chase after the other driver in an attempt to capture a photograph of the other vehicle’s license plate number.  This resulted in a high-speed chase with numerous lane changes and the other driver actually driving on the shoulder.  Finally, both drivers saw a CHP officer sitting on the side of the freeway and both pulled off to report the incident.

Although our client was not cited for any violation, the CHP officer referred him to the DMV for re-examination because he felt our client had engaged in “road rage.”

DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear.  Under California Vehicle Code section 13953, the DMV is empowered to immediately suspend or revoke the driving privilege of any person who drives in a manner that is unsafe for himself or other persons on the roadway.  Road rage incidents frequently end with completely innocent and uninvolved persons being injured so this section of the Vehicle Code permits the DMV to take immediate suspension action, even without a hearing.

Our Defense: When the client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his Negligent Operator Hearing and to stop the immediate suspension of his driver license.  This permitted the client to continue driving during the next 35 days while we prepared to fight his case.

Early in our investigation, we learned that our client’s driving history had been remarkably clean for years.  We learned that he had only received three moving violations in a period of 10 years and had no history of traffic collisions. Most importantly, our client had no history of rage, intimidation, violence, or criminal activity.

The Outcome: After weeks of preparation, we presented our defense before the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Driver Safety Office in San Diego.

At the hearing, we introduced items of affirmative evidence to demonstrate what had caused our client to be named a Negligent Operator.  Our client testified with great credibility and accepted full responsibility for his actions.  We mapped out a plan that demonstrated our client was committed to modifying his driving habits and how he intended to do so.

At the conclusion of the Negligent Operator Hearing, the hearing officer took the matter under submission.  Six days later, we received official notice that the hearing officer had completely “Set Aside” the action and restored our client to full driving privilege.  The hearing officer could have placed our client on driving probation, which would have created a huge increase in insurance costs.  The hearing officer was so impressed with our client’s honesty and commitment to change that she completely dismissed the case.

We were able to save our client’s driver license and he is back on the road today committed to safe driving.

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