Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to represent a client whose driver license had been suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles after the department received a Confidential Morbidity Report from a rehabilitation center suggesting she may suffer with dementia. Our 79 year old Client lives alone in North San Diego County. She is completely self-sufficient and handles all of her own obligations from cleaning and preparing meals to banking and grocery shopping. Being suddenly stripped of her driving privilege meant she was forced to rely upon friends and neighbors for some of her most basic needs.
In March 2016, our client suffered a fall at her home which resulted in the fracture of her right up. She was rushed to an area hospital where she underwent surgery to repair the injury. During her two-week stay at the hospital, no one expressed any concern for our client’s cognition. Upon discharge from the hospital, she was then admitted to an area rehabilitation center to assist her in recovering from her injury. During the two months she was in the rehabilitation center, she engaged the staff and willingly participated in physical therapy. The night before she was due to be discharged from the center, our client was approached a staff member she has never seen before. The only question posed by this stranger was whether or not out client intended to return to driving. Nothing more was said and the staff member left the room. During the entire two month stay, our client was never examined or interviewed by a psychiatrist/psychologist and she was never evaluated for dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
Shortly after her discharge from the rehabilitation center, our client received a “Notice of Re-Examination Appointment” from the DMV. She appeared as ordered at the San Diego Driver Safety Office where she was interviewed by a DMV Hearing Officer. The hearing officer accepted the Confidential Morbidity Report as fact and suspended our Client’s driver license.
Desperate to regain her driving privilege, our client conducted internet research and then contacted us for assistance.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because the information provided by the rehabilitation facility was that our client was suffering from “cognitive decline”, it was presumed she posed an immediate hazard to the motoring public and the DMV removed her from the road without any further evidence. It was the DMV’s plan to permanently keep our client off the road, or until such time as she proved her ability to safely drive.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule her “Physical & Mental” hearing for dementia with the Driver Safety Office in Poway which was closer to her home. Because the DMV refuses to grant a Stay of Suspension in these cases, we arranged for the hearing to occur as quickly as possible, but because our client lives alone, any period of suspension was a hardship.
Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine her entire medical history and to examine the details of what brought her into the DMV’s focus. We then embarked on a structured and focused path to collect affirmative medical evidence for our case. Our client met with several 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. Our client was evaluated by a Geriatric Neuro-Psychologist with a specialty in Dementia. This specialized physician conducted an exhaustive examination of our client and determined there was no evidence of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease and medically cleared her for driving. To put it bluntly, the allegations of the rehabilitation center were flat-out wrong.
After weeks of preparation, we were ready to present our case. Years of experience in representing drivers has taught us to be prepared for anything. Because of this, our client was prepared for a written test, a vision test and a driving test if required. Fortunately, none of that was required; however, our client was prepared nonetheless.
We have also learned that diligently preparing our clients for testimony is vital. Because we had invested so much time to prepare our client to testify, she did so with great confidence and credibility. Our direct examination of the client was so comprehensive that the Hearing Officer did not ask a single question in cross-examination and did not require either a written or a driving test.
Our client had walked into the hearing with a suspended driving privilege and relying upon neighbors for transportation. 45 minutes later, she walked out of the hearing with her driving privilege fully reinstated without any restriction or Medical Probation. Today our client is driving safely and continuing to monitor her health.
Call CDA Today. Let us put you on the road to victory! The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates include Administrative Advocates, 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 or revoked because you suffer with a physical or mental disorder or a suspicion that you suffer with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, don’t despair. There are literally thousands of Californians with challenging medical conditions who drive every day because they can prove they are medically stable. Just because a person may have some form of cognitive decline does not mean they cannot retain their independence.
These hearings can be won and you can be returned to driving. Let us get you there. Don’t let the DMV steal your driver license without a fight.