Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to represent a client whose driver license had been suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after the department conducted a Re-Examination based upon a referral received from a Law Enforcement Officer.
Our 59 year old Client lives alone in Marin County. She is highly educated, completely self-sufficient and is self-employed as a business consultant. Unfortunately, she suffered the loss of a person very dear to her; it was a tremendous loss that affected her greatly.
In November 2016, our Client was having a particularly difficult day with the approach of the holiday season. She drove to a local beach and spent some time just looking at the ocean and remembering her loved one. It was a highly emotional time for her so when she began the drive, home she didn’t realize her was dangerously low on fuel. She was driving through a desolate area when her car sputtered and came to a stop in the roadway.
This occurred in a sparsely populated area with little traffic and the sun was setting. Our client had no cell phone service and so she decided to walk toward town in an attempt to either achieve a cell phone signal or to make it home. As she walked, the stress of the day and the frustration of running out of fuel became too much and she suffered an emotional breakdown. When a law enforcement officer found her, she was highly emotional. The officer determined that she was a danger to herself and took her into protective custody. She was transported to a psychiatric hospital and released the next day when a psychiatrist determined she was not in danger.
When the law enforcement officer filed a “Request for Regular Re-Examination” the DMV initiated the re-examination process based on the presumption that our Client was emotionally unstable. When our Client appeared for the Re-Examination by the DMV, she was completely unprepared for the interview and the hearing officer was callous and aggressive. When the Re-Examination ended, the department issued an order suspending our Client’s driver license for a Mental Health Disorder.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because the information provided by the law enforcement officer suggested that our Client was emotionally unstable and because she had been hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for an evaluation, the department concluded that she could not be trusted to drive on our public roadways. It was the DMV’s plan to permanently keep our client off the road or until such time as she proved her mental stability.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule her “Physical & Mental” hearing for a Mental Health Disorder with the Driver Safety Office in San Francisco. Because the DMV refuses to grant a Stay of Suspension in these cases, we arranged for the hearing to occur as quickly as possible, but because our client lives alone, any period of suspension was a hardship and she ended up walking everywhere.
Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine her entire medical history and to examine the details of what brought her into the DMV’s focus. We then embarked on a structured and focused path to collect affirmative medical evidence for our case. Our client met with several physicians for medical examinations and then we encouraged the physicians to prepare Drivers Medical Evaluations to address each of their individual areas of medical expertise. Our client was evaluated by her Primary Care Physician who has known her for years. She was also evaluated by a new psychiatrist and we obtained the medical records from the psychiatrist who had evaluated her on the night of the event. The conclusion of all the physicians was that she had suffered a temporary and brief emotional episode related to the pain of losing her loved one. There was no evidence of a mental health disorder and her doctors cleared her for driving.
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. In fact, the hearing officer ordered that our client perform each of these tests and because she was prepared, she performed perfectly.
We have also learned that diligently preparing our clients for testimony is vital. Because we had invested so much time to prepare our client to testify, she did so with great confidence and credibility. Our direct examination of the client was designed to present all of our evidence, to explain the event, and to clarify confusion that had occurred at the Re-Examination.
Two weeks later, we received the Hearing Officer’s decision in the mail in which he reinstated our Client’s driving privilege without restriction or medical probation.
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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.
If your driver license has been suspended or revoked because you suffer with a physical or mental disorder, don’t despair. If a police officer or the DMV has misinterpreted an emotional event for an underlying medical condition, don’t give up. There are literally thousands of Californians with challenging medical conditions who drive every day because they can prove they are medically stable. Just because a person may have some form of physical or mental challenger does not mean they cannot retain their independence.
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.