Why does the DMV suspend a driver license for a Fatal Traffic Accident? The California Legislature has empowered the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with enormously broad power to determine which people are permitted to be issued a California Driver License. What many people don’t understand, however, is that the DMV also possesses the nearly unbridled power to suspend or revoke a person’s driver license for a variety of reasons.
Some of the most common reasons that the DMV will act to suspend or revoke a driver license are:
- Driving under the Influence.
- Physical or mental conditions that effect driving.
- Lack of Skill.
- Fraudulent Activity
- Financial Responsibility
- Negligent Operator
- Causing or contributing to a “serious injury” traffic accident.
- Causing or contributing to a “fatality” traffic accident.
In this article, we focus on the DMV’s power to suspend or revoke a person’s driver license when they have caused or contributed to a traffic accident resulting in a fatal injury to any person. To put it bluntly, when a person is killed in a traffic accident, the DMV will aggressively seek to place blame on someone, and then to take that person’s driver license if possible.
The language here is most disturbing. Your driver license may be suspended or revoked following a fatal traffic if you were primarily at fault. However, your driver license may equally be in jeopardy if someone or something else caused the accident, but you somehow contributed to the event. For example, if a person is lawfully driving through an intersection when another driver runs a red light and slams into the innocent person’s car; and if a passenger is killed in the innocent person’s car, certainly the errant driver is subject to suspension or revocation. However, if it is discovered the innocent driver didn’t realize that his deceased passenger was not wearing a seat belt, the DMV will determine that the innocent driver “contributed” to the accident and may move to suspend or revoke the innocent person’s driver license.
How can I protect myself at a DMV Hearing for a Fatal Traffic Accident? Most drivers who are involved in fatal traffic accidents don’t realize they have a problem developing with the DMV for months after their accident. One day the driver goes to the mailbox to discover a letter from the DMV. Inside the shocked driver finds an Order of Suspension or Revocation. Reading the letter more carefully, the driver will learn that the DMV has arbitrarily labeled him or her as a Negligent Operator and that the action is justified because he or she has caused or contributed to Fatal Traffic Accident.
The Order of Suspension or Revocation will indicate the effective date of the action and will also advise the driver that he or she has a right to a hearing to contest the suspension. Let’s be clear, the DMV is not suggesting they MAY suspend your license. They are simply telling you that the process has already begun and you have a brief window of opportunity to fight back.
Everything the DMV does is time sensitive, so failing to react quickly virtually assures that your driver license will be automatically suspended or revoked. When you receive the Order of Suspension or Revocation, you only have 14 days to contact your local Driver Safety Office to schedule a hearing or the suspension will automatically go into effect.
The only viable path to protecting yourself is to schedule, prepare, and win a specialized Negligent Operator Hearing before the DMV. Commonly referred to as a “fatality hearing,” this is a full-blown evidentiary hearing where evidence is presented, objections are filed, witnesses and experts may testify, and legal arguments are considered. This process is run very similar to a “mini trial.” The DMV process is so complicated and the DMV is so unfriendly that winning a fatality hearing on your own is not likely.
To best protect yourself…… to give yourself the best opportunity to prevent the one-year suspension or revocation of your driver license, you simply must be represented by a DMV Defense Expert who knows how to beat the DMV at its own game. When an accused driver walks into a fatality hearing unprotected, they are literally at the mercy of the DMV hearing officer who holds all the control and who is not there to be helpful or compassionate. If that same driver walks into the Driver Safety Office with a known and respected DMV Defense Expert from California Drivers Advocates (CDA), the atmosphere is entirely different. The DMV hearing officer will know and respect your representatives because they have handled scores of hearings together for years. The experience, knowledge, and devotion of your CDA representative will be most apparent in the way the DMV Hearing Officer treats you and how your hearing progresses. There simply is no substitute for quality and experienced representation.
If you have been accused of causing or contributing to a fatal accident and the DMV is seeking to suspend or revoke your driver license, don’t attempt to fight the DMV on your own. Don’t allow yourself to be represented by someone who has no clue how a fatality hearing is conducted. Call the DMV Defense Experts from California Drivers Advocates now. Our team of Administrative Advocates, former police officers, former DMV hearing officers, investigators and scientists are ready, willing and able to step into your case now. From the very first moment, you will represented by a team of DMV Defense Experts who truly care about your future.
More about Fatality Hearings at the DMV