Case History: California Drivers Advocates was engaged to defend a client whose privilege to drive commercial vehicles in the State of California was in jeopardy of being suspended because the Department of Motor Vehicles had identified him as a Negligent Operator.
Our client is a “long-haul” truck driver who operates a tractor-trailer rig 20 days per month. He delivers frozen goods from the ports in Los Angeles to New Jersey. Racking up an average of 120,000 miles per year, our client’s entire livelihood depends upon his ability to drive commercial vehicles.
The Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) employed by the DMV assigns higher point counts to each violation committed by a commercial driver. For example, a speeding ticket received by a regular Class “C” driver will accumulate 1 NOTS point. However, the same violation committed by a commercial driver accounts for 1.5 NOTS points. With two moving violations and a traffic collision, our client had accumulated a total of 4 NOTS points in less than 12 points. The maximum allowed by the Vehicle Code.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Under California Vehicle Code section 12810.5, the DMV is empowered to immediately suspend or revoke the driving privilege of any person who drives in a manner that is unsafe for himself or other persons on the roadway. The DMV’s position is that a person who accumulates too many moving violations or “at fault” traffic collisions in a short span of time is likely not acting in a responsible manner and should be taken off the road.
Our Defense: When the client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his Negligent Operator Hearing and to stop the immediate suspension of his driver license. This permitted the client to continue driving during the next 41 days while we prepared to fight his case.
Early in our investigation, we learned that our client’s driving history had been remarkably clean for years. We learned that he had only received two moving violations in a period of 13 years of professional driving and the traffic collision was largely unavoidable. After weeks of preparation, we presented our defense before the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Driver Safety Office in San Diego.
At the hearing, we introduced items of affirmative evidence to demonstrate what had caused our client to be named a Negligent Operator. Our client testified with great credibility and accepted full responsibility for his actions. We mapped out a plan that demonstrated our client was committed to modifying his driving habits and how he intended to do so.
Most importantly, there is an obscure section of the Vehicle Code which permits the DMV Hearing Officer to raise a commercial driver’s maximum point level from 4 to 6 points, provided he or she does not have special endorsements for passenger transport or hazardous material transport. Because of our experience, we were aware of this section of the law and were able to successfully argue to have our client’s maximum point level elevated.
In many instances, a victory at a Negligent Operator Hearing can occur when our clients are placed on driving probation. This means they do not lose their privilege to drive, but they must file a very experience SR-22 form with the DMV. So while this type of victory keeps our client driving, it can be costly.
Outcome: In this particular case, we hit a home-run. By successfully arguing for the elevation of our client’s maximum point level, we completely removed our client from the Negligent Operator System. We earned a complete “Set Aside” which means our client’s driving privilege was not suspended, he was not placed on driving probation and he was not required to file an SR-22. We were able to save our client’s driver license and he is back on the road today committed to safe driving. This is a perfect example of how knowledge and experience can make the difference.
Call CDA Today. Let us put you on the road to victory! 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. Whatever legal or scientific defense your case requires, CDA is ready to fight for you.