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Does an Expungement Help Me at a DMV Special Certificate Hearing?

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Is a Court Conviction Required for the DMV to Suspend/Revoke My Special Certificate?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can deny, suspend, or revoke the Special Certificate of a professional driver for a variety of reasons. Without question, the most common cause for such an action is when the DMV learns that an applicant, or current holder of a Special Certificate, has been accused or convicted of a crime.

It is important to note, the DMV is empowered to deny, suspend, or revoke a Special Certificate for the mere allegation or suspicion that a crime has occurred. The California Vehicle Code does not require an actual court conviction before a suspension/revocation can occur. Most often when a crime has occurred, without a conviction, the DMV will allege that the allegation alone demonstrates an act of “Moral Turpitude.”

Does an Expungement Keep the DMV From Suspending/Revoking my Special Certificate?

The short answer is no. In those instances where a person has suffered an actual criminal conviction, we’re often asked if an “Expungement” will preclude the DMV from suspending or revoking a Special Certificate.

Section 1203.4 of the California Penal Code, (Often referred to as an “Expungement“), provides a citizen the opportunity to have prior criminal convictions “dismissed.” Although the order signed by a judge indicates that the prior conviction has been replaced with a plea of “not guilty” and the conviction dismissed, it is not “wiped from the record.” While this particular Penal Code Section does permit citizens to deny prior criminal convictions on a job application, it does not relieve an applicant or holder of a Special Certificate from disclosing the prior conviction.

The DMV’s opinion reads…

“A court dismissal of criminal conviction under Penal Code Section 1203.4 is not treated as a dismissal for purposes of the certificate action. Such a dismissal means the applicant has successfully completed court imposed probation. However, the offense still remains a conviction for license and certification purposes and must be disclosed on the certification application.”

Essentially, an Expungement does not shield a driver from the effects of a prior conviction, however, introduced to the DMV in an appropriate format, it can be an extremely powerful tool in demonstrating a driver’s remorse, rehabilitation, and willingness to modify past bad behavior.

 Can an Expungement Help Me at a Special Certificate Hearing?

When planning for a Special Certificate Hearing, your Representative should be searching for a means to demonstrate that a driver with a previous criminal conviction has been rehabilitated, has served his or her debt to society, and has worked to regain the trust of the public.

Because an Expungement requires that the driver has completed and fulfilled all requirements of the court; and because it requires that there be no other pending criminal actions, an Expungement is a means by which to demonstrate that a driver has successfully put his or her past behind them and that they now should be considered trustworthy.

Because the DMV must establish the “nexus” (bridge) between the previous criminal conviction and ability of the driver to safely operate a specialized vehicle, the Expungement helps to break that connection.

Although the Expungement is not a “magic bullet” at a Special Certificate Hearing, it is one of many building blocks that your Representative should be using to make your case stronger.

 Call Us, We Can Help

The DMV Experts at California Drivers Advocates have been conducting and winning Special Certificate Hearings throughout the State of California for years. We know exactly how to use an Expungement to strengthen your case. As with any Administrative Hearing before the DMV, a Special Certificate is a full-blown evidentiary hearing that requires knowledge, preparation and execution. Call CDA today, we can help you win your Special Certificate Hearing.

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