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DMV Win at a Mental Health Hearing at the Orange Driver 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 Re-Examination that began with a concern about negligent operation.

Our 25 year old client came into the DMV’s focus while attempting to renew his driver license.  During the renewal process, it was discovered that he had been involved in a number of traffic accidents in a short period of time and was, therefore, referred to the Driver Safety Office for a Re-Examination of his fitness to drive. During two meetings with Hearing Officers at the Orange Driver Safety Office, he said and did things that made the hearing officers suspect he had some type of underlying mental health disorder.  When he admitted being under the care of a psychiatrist, the DMV required that our Client present a Driver Medical Evaluation prepared by that doctor.

Unfortunately, the relationship between our Client and his doctor had deteriorated to the point that the doctor reported that our Client was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and that he was not compliant with a treatment plan, was not taking his medication and was not safe to drive.  Based on that unfavorable medical information, the DMV ordered the immediate suspension of his driver license.

DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because a physician had reported a mental health condition that could quite clearly impact one’s fitness to drive, the Department felt it was necessary to remove our Client from the road until he could prove his was safe to drive.

Our Client is a highly intelligent and highly educated young man; holding both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in mechanical engineering.  A high level of intelligence however, is no shield against mental health disorders and he suffered with a condition that made him paranoid.  The DMV’s concern was that a person with an uncontrolled mental health disorder could act out inappropriately to the point that he could injure or kill himself or others.


Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his Physical/Mental Hearing by contacting the Driver Safety Office in the City of Orange. We also requested a copy of the DMV’s evidence which revealed the information that had been filed by the doctor.  It was quite damaging.

Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to carefully examine his mental history and to measure his ability to progress through the hearing process.  It became immediately apparent that he was alert, responsive and in complete control of his facilities, but that his paranoia was going to be an obstacle.  He was perpetually angry and subject to loud outbursts that would not help us in a hearing.  It was evident we needed a plan of attack that would take some time.

With our Client’s permission, we canceled the scheduled hearing.  By doing so, our Client’s driving privilege remained suspended for a longer period of time, but we could take our time getting our Client to a place of mental stability without the pressure of arbitrary time frames. We then worked with his family to get our Client connected with a new Psychiatrist whom we had worked with before.  Over a series of months, the new doctor gained our Client’s trust and confidence.  The doctor was able to get him on a treatment plan that worked and by remaining compliant with his medication; our Client finally reached a point of mental stability.

Using a tried and true method of preparation, we collected valid medical evidence to demonstrate our Client’s mental fitness to drive.  Because it is DMV policy to compel a driver to perform a written and a driving test on any case involving concerns of mental health, 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.

When we were ready, we presented all of our evidence to the DMV and then used a specific section of the California Vehicle Code to request that the department re-open our Client’s case.

At the Mental Health 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 mental health challenges and explained all of the steps he had taken (and was still taking) to remain compliant with his treatment plan.

In the end, our client excelled and passed the written test with a score of 100%.  One week later our client passed his driving test with ease.   Because we had correctly anticipated the hearing officer’s concerns, our documentary evidence and our Client’s testimonial evidence completely rebutted the DMV’s concern that his mental health issues were not controlled.

We were able to win our Client’s hearing and his driving privilege was fully reinstated.

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 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……….. Call CDA today.   Let us get you on the road to recovering your driving freedom.


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