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 a law enforcement officer determined he may not have the skill or knowledge to drive.
Our 75 year old client is a retired Engineer with a PHD in Physics who lives with his wife in Riverside County. His entire adult life was devoted to critical thinking and attention to detail.
In March 2018, our client and his wife were headed to visit their daughter in the City of Irvine. He was driving a popular electric vehicle that was equipped with an “auto-park” feature. Arriving at his daughter’s home, our client activated the auto-park feature and allowed the vehicle to take control. As soon as he engaged the parking assist, the car accelerated rapidly in reverse. Our client was able to stop the car and pushed a button to release the auto-park feature. When he took his foot of the brake, the car took off again. Our client was unable to steer or brake the car and it finally impacted the front porch of his daughter’s home.
When our Client explained the events to the responding police officers, they were skeptical and suspected that because of his age, he simply had mistakenly applied the accelerator rather than the brake pedal. Acting on that presumption, the police prepared a Request for Re-Examination demanding that the DMV investigate our Client’s fitness to drive.
When the DMV received the Law Enforcement referral, it determined the incident was so egregious that they bypassed the Re-Examination process and moved to the direct suspension of the driving privilege for a Lack of Skill.
After receiving an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail, our client conducted computer research and located us on-line. The next day, he engaged our services and we began the work necessary to get him back on the road.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because a law enforcement officer prepared a referral suggesting that our Client Lacked the Skill to Drive and because his driving pattern resulted in a serious and potentially dangerous traffic accident, the department felt it needed no other evidence and immediately suspended his driving privilege.
In cases of this nature, it is DMV protocol to presume the worst and challenge the driver to defend themselves.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his Lack of Skill Hearing by contacting the Driver Safety Office in San Bernardino. We immediately filed a request for an administrative hearing. Our request was approved and a hearing date was scheduled.
Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine the facts of what had occurred. Proper defense at a DMV Administrative Hearing is much more than just talking about the mechanics of the accident. We must know everything about our client’s personal history, medical history, driving history and criminal history. This knowledge allows us to hand-craft a defense that presents our Client in the best light possible.
Because the DMV is notorious for using a Lack of Skill issue as a mechanism for exploring other facets of a driver’s life, we prepared a “broad spectrum” defense to head them off at the pass.
Using a tried and true method of preparation, we directed our client to meet with a series of doctors to establish that he had no Physical or Mental Disorder that would have caused the accident. Our investigation also revealed that our Client’s make and model of automobile has an established history of unexpected acceleration during the use of the auto-park feature. Because it is DMV policy to compel a driver to perform a written and a driving test on any case stemming from a Law Enforcement referral, we directed our Client to study the driver handbook and to complete an on-line “Mature Driver Improvement Course.”
At the Lack of Skill Hearing, the hearing officer accepted all of our affirmative evidence without objection and took the testimony of our client. Because we had worked so hard to prepare him, he testified with confidence and credibility that made our position clear. We were able to deflect the DMV’s suspicions that his age had caused the accident. Instead we made clear this was a result of a manufacturer’s defect, not a problem with our Client’s skill or knowledge.
In the end, our client excelled and passed the written test with a score of 100%. Three days after the hearing, our client passed his driving test with flying colors. Because we anticipated the hearing officer’s concerns, our evidence calmed any fear regarding his physical and mental health. One week after he passed the driving test, we received an “Order of Reinstatement” in the mail that brought the ordeal to an end.
We were able to save our client’s driver license. His vehicle was a total loss so he has purchased a new vehicle that does not offer an auto-park feature.
Call CDA Today. Let our experience and training win your hearing
The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates include 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.
Aging is not a crime, but any time a person over the age of 70 is involved in a driving incident, the automatic presumption is that their age, their health or their skill was the cause. This is a terribly unfair stereotype but it is the blunt truth. If the DMV has begun the process of stealing your driver license for a Lack of Skill, pick up the phone and call CDA. We can help.