Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to represent a client whose driver license was suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) following an unfavorable Re-Examination Interview.
Our 51 year old client is married and lives with his wife and children in the family’s home east of San Francisco. He is the owner/operator of a professional plumbing company and as a “one man band” is the sole source of income for his family. Driving is a critical element of his job as he drives to service his clients’ homes in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Without the ability to drive, he cannot support his family.
In November 2016, our client was driving his plumbing service van in the City of Dublin. He had just stopped at a local Starbucks to purchase a steaming cup of coffee and was on his way to his office to pick up supplies. While making a right turn at an intersection, the lid popped off the coffee cup he was holding and scalding coffee splashed into his lap. In the brief instant that he was distracted by the burning coffee, our client lost control of his vehicle, left the roadway and knocked down a small tree.
Once the service van came to a rest, our client exited and inspected the damage. His van had suffered a minor cosmetic blemish to the bumper and the newly planted tree had been knocked to the ground. No other vehicles or pedestrians were hurt and no other property had been damaged. Our client’s perception was there was nothing to report so he got back into van and drove a short distance to his office to pick up supplies before his next appointment.
Evidently a witness saw the accident occur and had telephoned the Dublin Police Department because when he arrived at his office, the police were waiting there for him. Our client explained how the accident had occurred, displayed the coffee stain on his trousers and explained his decision to leave the scene. While being interviewed by the police, he admitted that he suffers with Type II Diabetes. The police had paramedics respond to the scene to check his blood/sugar readings which was normal, but the obvious inference was the police suspected that he had suffered a diabetic episode that caused the accident. Although our client was not cited and was not arrested for any violation, he was served a “Notice of Priority Re-Examination” which required that he appear before the DMV within five days to be questioned.
Just a few days later, our client appeared alone at the Driver Safety Office for his Priority Re-Examination. He had no idea what to expect so he entered the interview completely unprepared. He was able to pass the vision test, but failed the written test. During the interview that followed, the assigned DMV Hearing Officer was quite abusive and clearly indicated her suspicion that the accident was caused by an event of low blood/sugar, despite the fact that Paramedics had tested his blood/sugar levels and found them to be normal.
The Hearing Officer scheduled our client to retake the written test a few days later at the DMV Field Office in Pleasanton to be followed by a driving test. When our client appeared at the DMV Field Office in Pleasanton, he did pass the written test, but failed the driving test. When the hearing officer learned of his failure, she immediately suspended his driver license for a Lack of Skill. So, as is common with the DMV, the department couldn’t suspend our client’s license one way, so they went after him in a different manner.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because our client was not able to pass a driving test, they suspected he lacked the skill to drive and therefore was a menace on the road. It was the DMV’s clear intention to keep our client off the road for an indeterminate period of time or until such time as he demonstrated he was ready to return to driving.
It was also abundantly clear that any future hearing would require that we address the DMV’s underlying concern over our client’s diabetes.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his Lack of Skill Hearing at the Driver Safety Office in Oakland.
Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine the details of what had occurred. We also immediately worked with our client to collect valid medical evidence that his accident had not occurred as a result of low blood sugar. Our client met with a specific series of physicians for medical examinations and each doctor prepared Driver Medical Evaluations that cleared him for driving.
Going into the hearing, our goal was to convince the hearing officer that our client’s accident was just that………. an accident. We set out to prove that he is physically and mentally capable of driving. Furthermore, we sought to demonstrate through his driving record there was no evidence to suggest that he lacked the skill to drive. We needed the hearing officer to understand that the failure to pass the driving test was simply a function of nerves and a lack of preparation.
During the Lack of Skill Hearing, the hearing officer accepted all of our affirmative evidence without objection and took the testimony of our client. Because we had worked so hard to prepare our client, he testified with great emotion and credibility that made our position clear. When we concluded the direct examination of our client, he was then questioned extensively by the hearing officer but, because of our preparation, he was able to address each of the hearing officer’s concerns without hesitation.
The hearing officer agreed that our evidence had dispelled any concern about diabetes and that he would likely be able to pass a driving test. One week later, our client appeared for another driving test and passed with flying colors. The very next day, the hearing officer issued an order of reinstatement which returned our client to full driving privileges.
We were able to save our client’s driving privilege and he is back on the road earning a living and providing for his family.
Call CDA Today. Let us put you on the road to victory! 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 has a myriad of reasons for taking a person’s driver license. Whether the DMV has suspended your license for a physical or mental disorder; or if the suspension has occurred for a lack of skill, the DMV must allow you the opportunity to defend yourself, and that is where we shine. Call CDA today, we will work hard to put you back on the road.