Does the DMV suspend driver licenses for all traffic accidents? The short answer is no. In fact, there are hundreds of traffic accidents every day in California that never become an issue for the DMV. The only reason the DMV will suspend a driver license is if there was a reportable traffic accident that occurred when any of the involved motor vehicles were not covered by Financial Responsibility.
A “reportable” traffic accident is one where any person is injured or killed, and/or any one person suffered property damage exceeding $1000. If one of these criteria does not exist, the DMV has no jurisdiction to take action. If these issues are present, but the vehicles were properly covered by Financial Responsibility, the DMV has no jurisdiction to take action.
The DMV is only empowered to suspend or revoke a person’s driver license if they were involved in a “reportable” traffic accident and were not covered by Financial Responsibility at time.
What happens if the traffic accident was not my fault? In 1974, the California State Legislature passed a series of laws that are known as California’s compulsory auto insurance laws. Prior to the implementation of these laws, it was common for a person to be injured or suffer property damage that was never compensated because so many drivers were not insured and could not afford to pay the bills associated with a traffic accident.
It was the legislative intent of the law to ensure that all vehicles operated on California’s roadways be covered by some form of Financial Responsibility. When the Legislature framed the law, they sought to ensure that any person who suffered an injury could rely upon the law to assist them in recovering compensation to assist in recovery. The family of any person killed in a traffic accident could rely upon the law to ensure they were compensated for their terrible loss; and that the owner of any property who suffered damage to or loss of the property would be made whole again.
The law mandates that any person who owns a vehicle in the State of California must ensure that it is properly covered by Financial Responsibility. The law also mandates that any person, who drives a motor vehicle in the State of California, must ensure that the motor vehicle is covered by Financial Responsibility before putting that vehicle on the road.
The requirement to maintain Financial Responsibility for a motor vehicle IS NOT affected by issues of fault. In other words, a driver who is involved in a traffic accident that he or she did not cause, is just as obligated to provide proof of Financial Responsibility as the person who actually caused the accident. If either driver operated their vehicles without proper auto insurance or other form of Financial Responsibility, they risk having their driver license suspended or revoke, even if an accident is not their fault.
At any Financial Responsibility Hearing at the DMV, the issue of “fault” is irrelevant and will not be considered. Remember, was is the legislative intent of the law to ensure that all motor vehicles be covered by Financial Responsibility, irrespective of fault.
How can I protect myself at a Financial Responsibility Hearing? The law governing Financial Responsibility was specifically designed to punish any person who owns or operates a motor vehicle without proper insurance coverage.
If you have received notification that the California DMV is seeking to suspend or revoke your driver license for an issue of Financial Responsibility, you should telephone the DMV Experts from California Drivers Advocates (CDC) for a confidential and complimentary consultation. In most instances, our staff can determined the defensible nature of a case right over the telephone.
Many times the DMV will attempt to suspend or revoke a person’s driver license based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Other times an insurance company will decline to pay a claim for damages, even though a proper insurance policy was in effect.
The issues surrounding a Financial Responsibility Hearing can be complex so don’t try to navigate the process on your own. Call CDA today. We’re ready to help you.