Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to represent a client whose driver license had been automatically suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles after the department received a Confidential Morbidity Report from a neurologist who reported that our client suffers with Epilepsy. The vague and ambiguous report did not establish why the doctor had reached that conclusion or any of the facts involved. In the remarks section of the one-page report, the doctor simply wrote “Epilepsy” and based on that one comment, the DMV moved to the direct suspension of the driver license.
Our 51 year old client was originally diagnosed with Epilepsy at the age of 11. Over the next 17 years, she obeyed her doctor’s treatment regimen which included the use of prescription medication. Over that 17 year period, she only suffered an average of 1 or 2 seizures each year. At the age of 28, she suffered her last grand mal seizure and then entered a period of being completely seizure free for an extended period of time.
For 23 years, our client experienced no seizure activity whatsoever. Her doctors removed her from all medication and she enjoyed living a normal life for more than 20 years.
In December 2016, our client was at a friend’s home helping him pack for a move. She was bent over packing boxes in the kitchen when she stood up suddenly and slammed the back of her head onto a counter. The blow to the head was sufficient enough to cause dizziness and immediate vomiting. After she recovered, she was driven home where she went to bed.
The next morning, she was standing in her living room with her husband when she simply fainted. Her husband would later report that for a period of about 20 seconds, she looked as though she was sleeping. There were no convulsions or body tremors present. Her husband telephoned 911 and paramedics responded. When the paramedics arrived, she was checked out and medically cleared. She did not go to a hospital.
When she went to visit her primary care doctor, he concluded that she had suffered a minor seizure that had been provoked by concussion. He was not concerned but ordered a CT scan. Her test results were normal. Acting on her doctor’s advice, our client then went to see a neurologist who performed an EEG and an MRI. That doctor concluded that she had, in fact, suffered a seizure and immediately reported her to the DMV.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position is always crystal clear in cases like this. Because the information provided by the neurologist was that our Client was diagnosed with Epilepsy, the department immediately presumed she posed an immediate hazard to the motoring public and issued an order removing her from the road. The DMV’s plan was to keep her license in a status of suspension forever, or until such time as she could prove her fitness to drive. The DMV would require medical evidence and testimony establishing that she was stable.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule her “Lapse of Consciousness” hearing with the Driver Safety Office in the City of Orange.
As is always the case with our clients, our defense plan began with an extensive interview so we could learn virtually everything about the person we were representing. A successful hearing at the DMV requires us to present our client as a person with human frailties, but one who is committed to public safety. Once we fully understood our client, we embarked on a structured plan to collect affirmative medical evidence. Our client was evaluated by several medical professionals to address a wide range of issues from general medicine to neurology. It was critical to establish a period of stability and to document that she had returned to the use of anti-seizure medications. It was our goal to demonstrate that our client’s epilepsy lay dormant for more than 20 years and had only returned as a result of the blow to the head. We wanted the DMV to realize that it was likely her seizure disorder would now go back into remission.
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.
Undoubtedly, one of the most important functions we perform is to prepare our Clients for testimony. Our experience has taught us the mannerisms of many of the DMV Hearing Officers with who we deal; therefore we can anticipate their concerns and properly plan the presentation of our Client’s case. Our direct examination of the client was so comprehensive and she testified with such genuine credibility that the Hearing Officer did not ask a single question in cross-examination. Not one.
Our client had walked into the hearing with a suspended driving privilege. Two weeks later, a 90 day period of stability had run and we received the Hearing Officer’s decision in the mail. Our client’s driving privilege was fully re-instated without restriction or medical probation.
If the DMV is in the process of taking you off the road because of a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, call us today. We can help!
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.
Even if you have a valid diagnosis with a medical condition that concerns the DMV, you may still be entitled to drive. There are thousands of Californians with challenging medical conditions who drive every day because they can prove that they’re medically stable. Just because a person has epilepsy doesn’t mean they have to lose their driving freedom.
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.