Financial Responsibility Hearings

What is a Financial Responsibility Hearing?

Every person who owns or operates a motor vehicle in the State of California, is mandated to maintain appropriate liability insurance on that vehicle. This insures that any persons injured, or any property damaged, as a result of an automobile accident or incident can be compensated for that injury or damage. It is the goal of this law to make sure that victims of accidents are “made whole” to the extent possible.  Most Financial Responsibility Hearings occur after a driver has been involved in a reportable traffic accident and is found to be have been operating his or her vehicle without proper automobile insurance.

 

What Happens if I Don’t Participate in a Financial Responsibility Hearing?

The DMV presumes that their allegation against the driver is correct and warrants a suspension.  If a driver takes no action to defend themselves, the driver accepts the label of “Negligent Operator” and approves the license suspension by default.  Once a driver serves a period of suspension, he may be required to file an SR-22 with the DMV, causing a dramatic increase in automobile insurance rates. If that isn’t bad enough, one’s driving privilege and driving record are often a major factor in seeking or maintaining employment. Your ability to provide for your  family can be significantly impacted by a Negligent Operator suspension.   Being considered a Negligent Operator is costly.

  • Loss of Driver’s License
  • Increased Automobile Insurance
  • Inability to Work & Provide Income

How to Fight a Financial Responsibility Hearing?

Contact a Team of Professionals, NOW!!!.

Most often, a driver will receive a notice in the mail that the DMV intends to suspend their driver license for one-year, based upon a violation of the Financial Responsibility Laws. Once the driver has received this notice, they only have 10-days to act. If the driver wishes to prevent the suspension of his or her driving privilege, contact must be made with one of the Driver Safety Offices located near their home and this contact must occur within the first 10-calendar days following receipt of the notice. If the driver fails to contact the DMV within the required time frame, the driver is considered to have forfeit his or her right to a hearing and the suspension becomes automatic.

 

How We Help at Financial Responsibility Hearing?

If you receive a notice of suspension from the DMV, contact California Drivers Advocates immediately. The expert representatives at CDA will automatically intervene on your behalf. We will contact the DMV immediately to preserve your right to an administrative hearing and to ensure your driving privilege is extended until the hearing can be conducted. There is no cost to setting up the hearing and there is no harm caused by defending yourself. You cannot make the suspension period longer by defending yourself and losing. All you can do is make the situation better. Make a simple call and let CDA put you back on the road.

financial responsibility hearing

It is critical that you be represented by an Administrative Advocate or attorney to ensure that the Hearing Officer correctly reviews and considers all of the evidence.

What is the General Timeline with a Financial Responsibility Hearing?
100%
99%
8/10
90%

We contact the DMV same or next day to schedule a financial responsibility hearing for 100% of our clients.

Almost all of our clients have us representing them at their financial responsibility hearing within 30 Days!

8 out of ten of our clients will have their driving privileges reinstating at their very first hearing.

90 % of clients who need an additional financial responsibility hearing have their driving ability back in 60 days.

California’s Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law, mandates that those owning or operating motor vehicles, maintain the ability to financially compensate victims who sustain injury or property damage as a result of vehicle accidents or incidents, without regard to negligence, liability, carelessness or culpability.

The Laws…

California Vehicle Code Section (CVC), 16020, states, “Every driver and every owner of a motor vehicle shall at all times be able to establish financial responsibility pursuant to Section 16021, and shall, at all times, carry in the vehicle evidence of the form of financial responsibility in effect for the vehicle.”

CVC Section 16070, provides for a one-year suspension of the driver license for the driver or owner who fails to prove that he or she had appropriate auto insurance in effect at the time of a reportable accident.

CVC Section 16000(a), mandates that every driver involved in an accident or a public street or highway, to report the accident within 10 days to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The report is required if anyone was killed or injured, or of the damage to any single person’s property exceeds $750.

CVC Section 16000.1(a), also directs that certain “off-road” accidents be reported if, the accident occurred off-road, if the vehicle is subject to State Vehicle Registration, if the damage to any single person’s property exceeds $750; and, if there was a death or any injury, however slight. If the accident was “off-road,” any damage was confined to that of the owner/driver, and if there were no injuries; the accident need not be reported.

CVC Section 16075(c), mandates that the Department of Motor Vehicles, provide the opportunity for a driver/owner to conduct an Administrative Hearing before the DMV suspends that person’s driver license.

Proving Financial Responsibility
The California Vehicle Code provides several different means by which a driver or owner may prove compliance with the Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law.

CVC Section 16021, states……. “Financial Responsibility is established if the driver or owner is:

  • an insured person or principal under a form of liability insurance or surety bond. This normally the standard “Proof of Insurance” certificate issued by a person’s insurance company.
  • Is the holder of a DMV issued certificate of self-insurance. This normally involves privately owned companies with more than 25 registered vehicles, who are financially capable of satisfying the requirements of financial responsibility.
  • The United States of America, State of California, or any County or Municipality.
  • Is a depositor pursuant to CVC Section 16054.2(a).
  • Is in compliance with the law by any other means.

As has been discussed in several other chapters of this website, Administrative Hearings conducted before the Department of Motor Vehicles are difficult, at best. The administrative process allows the DMV to presume that all of their information is correct and that police officers acted legally. Essentially, a driver at a Financial Responsibility Hearing is presumed guilty and it is their responsibility to prove the DMV wrong.

Most Financial Responsibility Hearings occur after a driver has been involved in a reportable traffic accident and is found to be have been operating his or her vehicle without proper automobile insurance. Also, a driver may face license suspension if a police officer stops them for a simple driving offense and, during the course of that contact, is found to not have appropriate insurance.

Most often, a driver will receive a notice in the mail that the DMV intends to suspend his or her driver license for one-year, based upon a violation of the Financial Responsibility Laws. Once the driver has received this notice, they only have 10-days to act. If the driver wishes to prevent the suspension of his or her driving privilege, contact must be made with one of the Driver Safety Offices located near their home and this contact must occur within the first 10-calendar days following receipt of the notice. If the driver fails to contact the DMV within the required time frame, the driver is considered to have forfeit his or her right to a hearing and the suspension becomes automatic.

If you receive a notice of suspension from the DMV, contact California Drivers Advocates immediately. The expert representatives at CDA will automatically intervene on your behalf. We will contact the DMV immediately to preserve your right to an administrative hearing and to insure your driving privilege is extended until the hearing can be conducted. There is no cost to setting up the hearing and there is no harm caused by defending yourself. You cannot make the suspension period longer by defending yourself and losing. All you can do is make the situation better. Make a simple call and let CDA put you back on the road.

Once the DMV hearing has been set and your driving privilege has been extended, your CDA Advocate will begin the process of preparing for your hearing. Your Advocate will issue subpoenas for information that is relevant to your defense and will collect police reports and evidence of insurance to build your defense.

On the date of your hearing, your CDA Advocate will either appear on your behalf or at your side. At the hearing will be the DMV’s representative, called a Hearing Officer. The hearings are normally conducted in a small room/office and should be tape recorded. The Financial Responsibility Hearing can be run like a “mini-trial.” You, or your advocate, are permitted to produce evidence and witnesses. You are permitted to attack the evidence against you and to cross-examine a police officer, if appropriate. The manner in which the DMV introduces its information into evidence should be carefully scrutinized. The DMV does not have to work too hard to prove their case. The DMV’s only responsibility is to prove:

  1. Was the Respondent (you) the driver or the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident?
  2. Was the damage to property greater than $750, or was anyone injured or killed?
  3. Did the Respondent have appropriate auto insurance in effect at the time of the accident?

The DMV Hearing Officer will not consider who was at fault in the accident. Assignment of fault is not the basis for a suspension of a person’s driver license. Simply being involved in an accident and not having appropriate insurance is theoretically enough to suspend one’s license. Also, a driver’s critical need to drive is not a basis for defending against this type of suspension. Arguing, “If I lose my license, I will lose my job,” is not a valid defense at this type of hearing.

Many times a driver who is involved in a motor vehicle accident is driving with absolutely no knowledge that the owner of the car being driven, does not possess appropriate auto insurance. In this instance the law is clear; it is the obligation of the driver of the car involved in an accident to main proof of Financial Responsibility. Essentially, this means that it is the driver’s obligation to insure that any potential victims of injury, death or property damage are compensated.

The registered owner of a motor vehicle may have his driver license suspended, even if he was not driving the motor vehicle at the time of the accident, if:

  1. The vehicle was a “driverless” runaway, or;
  2. The actual driver of the vehicle cannot be identified.

The law mandates that a financial responsibility action be taken against a driver when that person is known. If the driver cannot be identified in situations of hit & run, or uses false identification and the registered owner does not identify the driver, the owner must submit evidence of Financial Responsibility or his or her driver license will be suspended.

Suspension / Restriction / Exemption
If a driver does not act to protect himself or herself at a DMV Financial Responsibility Hearing or; if the hearing is conducted and lost, the DMV will suspend the driver’s license for a minimum of one year. At the end of the one-year suspension, the driver’s license will only be reinstated if he or she files Proof of Financial Responsibility (SR-22 Form). The SR-22 Form must remain if effect for three years or the driving privilege will once again be suspended.

A driver whose driving privilege has been suspended for one-year, may be eligible for an upgrade to a “restricted” license. CVC Section 16072 and CVC Section 16077 make it possible for a driver to have his suspended license reinstated at a “restricted” level provided:

The only cause of the suspension is for a failure to maintain insurance. If the driver license is currently suspended for any other reason, the driver is not eligible for restriction.
The driver must file an SR-22 form with the DMV that remains in effect for the period of suspension and for an additional three years thereafter.

A driver may receive a driving exemption when the driver demonstrates a need to drive a company owned vehicle. In applying for the “course of employment exemption,” the driver must demonstrate that he or drives for compensation, is not the registered owner of the vehicle and that he or she must drive in the performance of his or her duties. The course of employment exemption does not provide for driving to and from work and the full suspension of his or her personal driving privilege remains in effect for the full year.

If any person is cited for driving in violation of a suspension or restriction, new and separate penalties may apply.

The expert Advocates at CDA have seen it all. Our experience was not earned by a text book or after years of sitting in a classroom. Our experience comes from the trenches. There is very little that our expert team has not seen. If you receive a “notice of suspension” from the DMV, don’t assume all is lost. Don’t assume that you will lose your driving privilege and that you have not control. Call CDA and let us begin the work of protecting your driving freedom.

 

If the DMV is Your Problem, California Drivers Advocates is Your Solution!!!

Please contact us if you recently got a DUI, a notice of suspension or you just have a question about the DMV or your driving privelge.

We’ll be happy to answer your questions at no cost or obligation. If we can’t help, we’ll at least tell you about your other options.

All submissions are confidential. Our team typically replies within 24 hours.