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What are the penalties if I get caught cheating at the DMV?

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How does a person cheat at the DMV?:  Occasionally, a person who is applying for the issuance or renewal of a California Driver License will be caught cheating or trying to circumvent the application process.  Most often this occurs in three instances:

  • The applicant is discovered using some form of “cheat sheet,” “crib notes,” or “study material” during the actual testing sequence, to increase their odds of passing by cheating;
  • The applicant is discovered to have presented false identification or false residency documents in an attempt to circumvent the process.
  • The applicant conspires with a DMV employee to obtain a fraudulent driver license without passing the proper testing process.

The DMV defines any of these actions as Fraudulent Activity.  It is a serious offense and when discovered, the DMV will act quickly to sanction the offending party.

In some instances, the allegation against the driver is legitimate and they were genuinely caught doing something illegal.  In other cases, the person is wrongly accused.  Either because of misinformation or misinterpretation, a DMV employee may suspect a person was cheating the system when, in fact, they were not.  Finally, in some cases good faith mistakes are made and an innocent person could end up being accused of something they did not do. Without question, the most common form of Fraudulent Activity occurs during the written test to apply for or renew a driver license.

What are the Penalties for Fraudulent Activity?:  If a person is suspected of Fraudulent Activity, the DMV will immediately stop the application or renewal process and will refer the accused person’s case to the Fraudulent Activity Unit in Sacramento.  The Fraudulent Activity Unit will review the facts and the evidence in the case to determine if there is good cause to believe the accused person committed and act of fraud.  If it is determined that no fraud occurred, the file will be closed and the accused person is permitted to resume the application or renewal process.

On the other hand, if the Fraudulent Activity Unit determines the accused person did commit an act of fraud, the case will then be transferred to the Driver Safety Office located closest to the accused person’s home.  The Driver Safety Office is a large regional office of the DMV that conducts administrative hearings.  Once the Driver Safety Office receives the file, it will send a letter to the accused person advising that their driver license will be revoked or denied because they committed an act of fraud.  The letter will also advise the accused person of their right to request an administrative hearing to present evidence and demonstrate why the intended penalty is not warranted.

If a person successfully schedules a Fraudulent Activity Hearing with the Driver Safety Office, they are permitted to present evidence and witnesses. They are permitted to review the DMV’s evidence and to cross-examine any witnesses against them.   The Fraudulent Activity Hearing is something very similar to a mini-trial.

When the Fraudulent Activity Hearing has concluded, there is no negotiating.  The accused person will either win or lose.  If the hearing is won, the person is returned to good status and is permitted to resume the process of applying for or renewing a driver license.

If the Fraudulent Activity Hearing is lost, however, the DMV will immediately revoke an existing driver license or will deny an applicant the right to apply for a driver license.  What is most disturbing here is that there is no minimum period of revocation mentioned in the Vehicle Code.  The period of revocation or denial is completely at the discretion of the Driver Safety Office; however, it has been the DMV’s practice to hold a person’s driving privilege in a state of revocation or denial for one-year before reconsidering the matter.

How can I defend myself if I am caught cheating at the DMV?:  If you have received an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” from the Driver Safety Office and you are being accused of Fraudulent Activity, there is only one way to protect yourself.  You must schedule, prepare and conduct a Fraudulent Activity Hearing with the DMV.  The Fraudulent Activity Hearing is a complicated evidentiary hearing governed by the California Government Code, the California Administrative Procedures Act, the Vehicle Code and the Evidence Code.

In most instances, California Drivers are not equipped to handle such a hearing on their own.  Fortunately, you can be represented by a DMV Defense Expert with years of training and experience in the field of Administrative Hearings.  Our team of Administrative Advocates has been fighting and winning Fraudulent Activity Hearings at the DMV for many years.

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