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DMV Win at a Lack of Skill Hearing at the San Diego Safety Office

Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to represent a client whose driver license had been summarily suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles following a traffic accident resulting in the injury of pedestrians.
Our 36 year old client drives extensively as an installer of high-end HVAC systems throughout San Diego and Riverside Counties. His job requires so much travel that he drives more than 30,000 miles each year for work alone. To say the least, the loss of his driving privilege would cost him his job and risk financial ruin.
In May 2017, our client was enjoying a rare day off from work. He was spending the afternoon with a friend and after enjoying a barbecue, they decided to drive to a cigar lounge in the City of Alpine. When he arrived, our client was just parking on the side of the building when he noticed a parking slot that was coming available in front of the store. Our client was just pulling into the new parking location when his foot accidentally slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator. When his truck lurched forward, it startled him and rather than reposition his foot on the brake he stepped down harder on the accelerator. His truck shot across the parking bumpers, jumped the curb and crashed through a fence that surrounded the outdoor smoking area of the cigar lounge. Ultimately three people were slightly injured.
When the police arrived to investigate, they conducted an extensive DUI investigation but our client was “stone cold” sober and therefore had not broken the law. During their investigation, however, the police discovered that he had an extensive history of drug abuse and had even spent time in State Prison. This caused the police to issue an order requesting that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) conduct a re-examination to determine his fitness to drive.
Even though the police had cleared our Client of any suspicion that he was impaired, the DMV still presumed something was afoot. Based on that, they bypassed the officer’s request for Re-Examination. Instead, they ordered the immediate suspension of his driver license. This took him off the road and placed his job in jeopardy.

DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because a law enforcement officer prepared a referral to the DMV suggesting that our Client Lacked the Skill to Drive and that his driving pattern had endangered the lives of innocent people; the department resolved to take him off the road and challenge him to prove his fitness to drive.

Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his Lack of Skill Hearing by contacting the Driver Safety Office in San Diego. We also requested a stay of suspension so that our client could continue driving during the development of the case, but our request was rejected out of hand and the suspension remained in effect.
Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine the facts of what had occurred. Because the DMV is notorious for using a Lack of Skill issue as a mechanism to explore other facets of a driver’s life, we prepared a “broad spectrum” defense to head them off at the pass.
Using a tried and true method of preparation, we directed our client to meet with a series of doctors to establish that he had no Physical or Mental Disorder that would have caused the accident. Because it is DMV policy to compel a driver to perform a written and a driving test on any case stemming from a Law Enforcement referral, we directed our Client to study the driver handbook and to complete an on-line “Driver Improvement Course.” Most importantly, we took the time necessary to prepare him for testimony.
At 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. He was completely forthcoming about his past addiction to drugs and alcohol and explained all of the steps he had taken (and was still taking) to remain sober.
In the end, our client excelled and passed the written test with a score of 100%. Three days after the hearing, our client aced his driving test. Because we anticipated the hearing officer’s concerns, our evidence calmed any fear regarding his physical and mental health; and we completely squelched any fears regarding his previous use of drugs. One week after he passed the driving test, we received an “Order of Reinstatement” in the mail that brought the ordeal to an end.
We were able to reinstate our Client’s driver license and his very patient employer allowed him to return to work.


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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. Fortunately, the law does permit an accused driver to appear at an Administrative Hearing to reverse the suspension action……….. That is where we shine!


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