Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to represent a client whose driving privilege was being revoked because the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) had labeled him as a Negligent Operator, because of his involvement in a Fatal Traffic Collision.
Our 54 year old Client is married and living alone in the City of San Diego. He is the owner/operator of a small business so he is completely self-reliant. The nature of his business makes driving privilege. Essentially, if he can’t drive, he would lose his home and be destitute.
In January 2018, our Client had just finished a full day at work. After a quick shower and change of clothes, he jumped into his vehicle and headed for a meeting. He had just turned off of his residential street onto a major roadway and gradually accelerated.
As he approached a major intersection, our Client saw a pedestrian crossing the roadway. As he approached, the pedestrian stopped in the median and looked down at his hands, obviously distracted by something. Assuming that the pedestrian would remain where he was, our Client continued driving, when without warning, the pedestrian darted into the roadway.
Despite his best efforts to avoid a collision, our Client was not able to avoid the pedestrian and struck him. Our Client immediately, stopped and exited this truck to render aid and call 911. The pedestrian was transported to a trauma center however, all efforts to save him failed and he died.
Back at the scene of the accident, our Client was completely cooperative and compliant with the responding police officers. He answered all of the officers questions, walked them through the scene to explain the events and allowed them access to his cell phone to confirm he had not been on the device while driving. Ultimately our Client was not arrested and not cited for any violation, however, a report was sent to the DMV and a revocation action was initiated.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position is crystal clear in issues of this nature. If any driver is involved in a traffic accident causing a serious injury or fatality, and if the Department determines the driver caused or contributed to the accident, it will act punitively to remove that person’s privilege to drive.
When the DMV takes an action to revoke a driving privilege for a fatal accident, it is for an “indeterminate” period of time, which means forever or until the person demonstrates their fitness to drive. Although not mandated by the Vehicle Code, the DMV’s unwritten protocol is to not consider the reinstatement of a driving privilege for at least one year.
A one-year revocation of our Client’s driving privilege would have caused him utter devastation.
Our Defense: Once we were engaged, we moved immediately to request a hearing and a Stay of Revocation. The Stay of Revocation was critical because it would stop the intended revocation of our Client’s driving privilege while we worked to develop his defense. A process that ultimately took over a year.
The DMV is often resistant to granting a Stay of Revocation because of the terribly serious nature of these cases. We were, however, successful in our attempt and our Client was permitted to continue driving as he has progressed.
Once the Hearing was scheduled and the Stay was in-place, we began a methodical approach to investigating the facts and collecting affirmative evidence. Our work included:
- An extensive interview with the Client.
- A personal “on-scene” inspection of the accident location.
- Collecting medical evidence of our Client’s fitness to drive.
- Collecting evidence of our Client’s regular maintenance of his vehicle.
- Collecting cell phone records to prove no use at the time of the collision.
- Extensive investigation of the roadway and a historical analysis of other auto/ped accidents at that location.
- Extensive investigation of the autopsy and toxicology results of the pedestrian.
- Extensive cross-examination of the reporting police officer.
- Extensive preparation of our Client for testimony.
As stated above this case required more than one-year of work and three appearances before the DMV.
In the end, the hearing officer was so impressed that she waved any suspension or revocation of our Client’s driving privilege. Instead, our Client was placed on driving probation, which means he was permitted to keep his license; he just could not receive any tickets or be involved in any accidents for a period of one-year.
Without question, the secret to success here was preparation, preparation, preparation.
Call CDA Today. We will fight to protect your rights. 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.
The DMV is an enormously powerful government agency with the nearly unbridled power to suspend or revoke a person’s driving privilege at will. There is nothing that can be done to restore the life of a person killed in an auto accident; however, fairness and due process should be the building blocks to any good defense.