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 an Emergency Room Physician who reported a Lapse of Consciousness and that he was a risk to driving because of his use of multiple medications. Having received the report from a doctor, the DMV moved to immediate suspension of the driver license without further information.
Our 39 year old client was originally diagnosed HIV in 2006 which led to additional diagnosis of depression and anxiety. For a period of 11 years the HIV was well controlled and was maintained with the use of numerous prescription medications. The depression and anxiety became more problematic and led to the abuse of several medications and illegal drugs. By the time he suffered his Lapse of Consciousness, our Client was abusing alcohol, psychotropic drugs and methamphetamine. His doctors were upset with him and he was not in a good place.
In early 2017, our Client was working in the front yard of his home to construct a retaining wall. He was working in very warm weather and had not done a very good job of keeping himself hydrated. He jumped up onto the retaining wall, lost his footing and fell backwards striking his head on a sidewalk which rendered him immediately unconscious. A neighbor looked out a window and saw our Client lying motionless in the front yard. Paramedics were called and our Client was rushed to an area hospital.
At the hospital, a physician interviewed our Client and determined that he lost consciousness but that he was also “Poly-Pharmacy,” which meant that the doctor was concerned about the number of medications that were prescribed for his use. The doctor’s further concern was that the Lapse of Consciousness may have been caused by drug use as opposed to falling off a wall. As a result, the emergency room physician prepared a Confidential Morbidity Report that was sent to the DMV. If that weren’t bad enough, when our Client went to see his own primary care doctor, that physician also prepared a negative medical evaluation that was forwarded 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 emergency room physician and his private doctor was that our Client had suffered a Lapse of Consciousness and that he was not following his prescribed treatment regimen; the department immediately presumed he posed an immediate hazard to the motoring public and issued an order removing him from the road. The fact that our Client’s driving record was spotless for years did nothing to calm the DMV’s fear. In issuing the Order of Suspension/Revocation, it was the department’s plan was to keep his license in a status of suspension forever, or until such time as he could prove his fitness to drive. The DMV would require medical evidence and testimony establishing that he was stable.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his “Lapse of Consciousness” hearing with the Driver Safety Office in San Diego.
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 requires us to present our client as a person with human frailties 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. We also had our Client begin working with his primary care physician to rebuild a working relationship with that doctor. It was critical to establish that our Client was well educated in his disorders, that he was complying with his doctor’s orders and that this isolated incident had educated him to a point that he could prevent a reoccurrence. We wanted the DMV to realize that the Lapse of Consciousness really was as a result of a blow to the head and that our Client’s use of prescription medications was well controlled.
After two months 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. As it turned out, the hearing officer did require our Client to jump through each of those hoops, so it was fortunate that he was prepared.
Undoubtedly, one of the most valuable services we provide is to prepare our Clients for testimony. Although our clients testify as our witnesses, they still are subject to cross-examination by the Hearing Officer. Our experience has taught us the mannerisms of many of the DMV Hearing Officers with whom 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 he testified with such genuine credibility that the Hearing Officer asked very few questions in cross-examination. There just wasn’t anything left to explore.
Three days after the hearing, the Client passed his “behind the wheel” test. Two weeks after that, we received the DMV’s “Order of Set Aside or Reinstatement” which returned our Client to full driving privileges.
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.
A Lapse of Consciousness can occur for a variety of reasons. Diabetes, Epilepsy, Dehydration or Illness. If you have suffered a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, the DMV will automatically assume the worst and will seek to keep you off the road. Don’t despair as you really can be well defended.
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.