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Introduction to the DMV’s Negligent Operator Treatment System

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What is the Negligent Operator Treatment System?

Every day hundreds of California drivers open their mail boxes to find an envelope from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). When they open the envelope, these unsuspecting citizens are shocked to learn that the DMV has labeled them as a Negligent Operator and has begun the process to suspend or revoke their driver license. So……. the natural question is, why does this happen?

Throughout their entire lifetime of driving, all California drivers remain under the watchful eye of the DMV. If the DMV ever receives information to suggest that a person has lost the knowledge or skill to drive, their license will be suspended. If the DMV ever feels that a person has developed a physical or mental condition that makes them unsafe to drive, their license will be suspended. Likewise, if the DMV decides that a person’s driving history suggests they are not operating vehicles safely, they will be labeled a Negligent Operator and their license will be suspended.

To monitor a person’s driving history and to force the correction of bad driving habits, the DMV uses a complex computer database that essentially “keeps score” of a person’s driving record. If a person’s driving history or pattern of driving suggests they may be creating a hazard to public safety, the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) will begin.

The NOTS system is a graduated series of letters, hearings and sanctions that range from simple warnings all the way to the complete revocation of a driver license. The NOTS system will engage if any of these four issues exist:

  • A driver accumulates too many “points” for moving violations in a specified period of time.
  • A driver is involved in too many traffic collisions in a specified period of time.
  • A driver has caused or contributed to an injury traffic collision.
  • A driver has caused or contributed to a fatality traffic collision.

How Are NOTS Points assessed?

NOTS points are added to a person’s driving record when the DMV receives notice of a conviction from a court or when the department receives information of an “at fault” traffic collision from a law enforcement agency.

 One-Point Violations:

Generally speaking, citations received for most “moving violations” will result in an accumulation of “one-point” on the driving record. Examples of one-point violations are:

  • Speeding
  • Stop Sign Violations
  • Red Light Violations
  • Carpool Lane Violations
  • Illegal Passing
  • Illegal Turn
  • Illegal Lane Change
  • Right of Way Violations
  • Failing to Yield to Emergency Vehicle
  • Following too Closely
  • Open container
  • Any “at fault” traffic collision
  • In some instances, mechanical violations may be assessed one-point if they effect the safe operation of a vehicle.

Two-Point Violations:

The California State Legislature has directed that certain public offenses be assessed two-points because they are more serious and constitute a greater risk to public safety. Examples of two-point violations are:

  • Evading a Police Officer
  • Driving with a Suspended or Revoked Driver License
  • DUI
  • A Minor Driving with a BAC or .05% or more
  • Speeding Over 100 mph
  • Speed Contest
  • Reckless Driving
  • Hit & Run
  • Transporting Explosives
  • Any “at fault” Traffic Collision Causing Injury or Death

Three-Point Violations:

The California State Legislature has mandated the assessment of three-points for any violation that would normally call for a two-point assessment, but is committed while operating a commercial vehicle.

SPECIAL NOTE FOR COMMERCIAL DRIVERS: If a traffic violation is committed while operating a vehicle requiring a Class “A” or Class “B” license, the assessed point accumulation is 1.5 times that of a regular Class “C” driver.

How Does the NOTS System Work?

The NOTS system is a 4-level system of increasingly punitive letters and sanctions designed to warn Negligent Operators to change their driving habits and to punish those who do not comply.

Level I

  • 2 points within 12 months
  • 4 points within 24 months
  • 6 points within 36 months

A driver who is flagged by the NOTS computer at Level I will receive a warning letter which advises that he or she has come to the attention of the DMV and that a change in driving habit is necessary to avoid further action.

Level II

  • 3 points in 12 months
  • 5 points in 24 months
  • 7 points in 36 months

A driver who is flagged by the NOTS computer at Level II will receive notice of the DMV’s intention to suspend the driver license if any further points are accumulated within a specified time. This is the last of the so-called “warning” letters. From this point forward, punitive action is taken.

Level III

  • 4 points in 12 months
  • 6 points in 24 months
  • 8 points in 36 months

A driver who is flagged by the NOTS computer at Level III will receive an “Order of Suspension/Probation,” which notifies the driver that his or her driving privilege is being suspended. If the driver contacts the DMV within 14 days of the receipt of the letter, he/she may schedule a Negligent Operator Hearing to rebut the DMV’s evidence and attempt to avoid a suspension of the driver license.

Level IV

If a driver has been previously placed on driving probation and then commits any of the following, his probation is violated and the driver license will be suspended:

  • The driver receives any additional points while on driving probation;
  • The driver is involved in an “at fault” traffic collision while on driving probation;
  • The driver fails to appear (FTA) in court, or fails to pay (FTP) any fine while on driving probation.

How Can I Protect Myself From A Negligent Operator Suspension?

The NOTS computer has no concern over a person’s need to drive. If the computer calculates that you have accumulated too many points, been involved in too many traffic collisions or been involved in an injury or fatal accident, the computer will generate a NOTS suspension action without any regard to who you are.

Because a computer is a computer, it cannot necessarily evaluate the validity or accuracy of a point accumulation and will not consider your need to drive. The computer only knows you have accumulated too many points and therefore you are a Negligent Operator…………. PERIOD!!

Fortunately several court decisions have determined that once possessed, a California driver license is a vested property right and therefore, the Laws of Procedural Due Process apply if the DMV intends to strip that license from you. Essentially, this means that like it or not, the DMV must give you an opportunity to defend yourself.

One of gravest mistakes a California driver can make is to fight the DMV without professional help. The California Department of Motor Vehicles is not your friend and the Negligent Operator process is not set up to be user friendly. If your driving privilege is critical to your future, call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates (CDA). We have represented drivers in every Driver Safety Office in California and have fought and won every type of administrative hearing the DMV conducts; including the Negligent Operator hearing.

Call CDA today. We’ll take the immediate steps to protect your driving privilege and to beat the DMV at its own game.

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