Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to represent a client whose driver license had been automatically suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles after the department received a Law Enforcement Referral from a police officer who investigated a traffic accident occurring in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. The officer’s referral described that our client had lost consciousness as a result of being overmedicated, which prompted the DMV to by-pass the Re-Examination process and move to direct suspension of the driver license.
Our 26 year old client is a heroin addict with long history of chemical dependency. He began experimenting with alcohol and marijuana at the age of 14 and by the age of 22 was injecting heroin more than ten times per day. He had been in and out of rehab programs with varying degrees of success but always seemed to fall back into the old habits.
In 2015, he had been clean and sober for more than 18 months when he moved from New York to San Diego. He was hoping to find a new start and was hoping that breaking ties with his old contacts in New York would help him to remain sober.
After living in San Diego for about one year, he found himself in an emotionally fragile state. He could not find a job and was in the process of ending a toxic relationship with his girlfriend. In a moment of weakness, he purchased a quantity of tar heroin.
Because black tar heroin is not common on the streets of New York City, our client was not aware of the difference in potency between black tar and the powdered heroin he was accustomed to using. Our client pulled into a parking lot and injected the drug into his body. Anticipating the effect of the drug, he began to drive and was suddenly overcome by an overdose. He passed out behind the wheel and crashed into some bushes. Thankfully no one else was involved and no one was hurt. When the police and paramedics arrived he was so unresponsive that the police broke a car window to extract him from the car and transport him to the hospital.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position is always crystal clear in cases like this. Because the information provided by the investigating officer was that our client had suffered a “lapse of consciousness” while driving and that he had suffered a drug overdose, it was presumed he posed an immediate hazard to the motoring public and the DMV immediately issued an order removing him from the road. The DMV’s plan was to keep his license in a status of suspension, until such time as he could prove his fitness to drive. The DMV was going to require proof that he had no seizure disorders and that his drug use was under control. Until then, he would not be returned to driving.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his “Lapse of Consciousness” hearing with the Driver Safety Office in San Diego.
As is always the case with our client’s, our defense plan began with an extensive interview with our client. Because a successful hearing at the DMV often requires us to present our client as an individual human being with human frailties, it is imperative that we know his entire background. We then embarked on a structured and focused path to collect affirmative medical evidence for our case. Our client was evaluated by several medical professionals to address a wide range of issues from general medicine to neurology. It was critical to establish a period of stability and to document several clean urine tests to demonstrate that our client was no longer using drugs. We went even further to encourage our client to reestablish contact with a prior therapist and to begin a relationship with a new Therapist in San Diego.
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. Fortunately, none of that was required; however, our client was prepared nonetheless.
Through years of conducting such hearings, we have also learned how critically important it is to prepare our clients for testimony. Because we have conducted scores of hearings before the same assigned DMV Hearing Officer, we were able to anticipate her cross-examination and prepare our client for that as well. Our direct examination of the client was so comprehensive and he testified with such genuine credibility that the Hearing Officer did not ask a single question in cross-examination. Not one.
Our client had walked into the hearing with a suspended driving privilege. One week later, we received the Hearing Officer’s decision in the mail. Despite some argument that medical probation may be appropriate, the hearing officer fully reinstated our client’s driving privilege without restriction or probation.
If the DMV is in the process of taking you off the road, call us today. We can help!
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 characterized by a Lapse of Consciousness or control, don’t despair. There are thousands of Californians with challenging medical conditions who drive every day because they can prove that they medically stable. Just because a person has diabetes, or even a drug addiction, they may still be able to retain their privilege to drive.
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.