Case History: California Drivers Advocates was engaged to represent a young woman who was being accused of cheating during a written test while applying for the issuance of a California Driver License. Our 35 year old client is a highly educated woman holding her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Business. She is also just completing her Doctoral dissertation.
Having just moved to the State of California from New York, she was required to apply for a California Driver License within 10 days of her arrival in the State. She presumed that because her driving record in the New York was so clean, she would not be required to take a written test when applying for her California Driver License. She was wrong.
With little or no preparation our Client entered the DMV Field Office in Laguna Hills to apply for a California Driver License. She was taken aback when a DMV staff member announced the requirement that she take a written test. Because testing comes so naturally to her, our Client agreed to take the written test without any preparation and, of course, she failed miserably. When she approached the DMV staff member to ask about her next steps, she was handed a DMV Driver Handbook and was told it would take 20 minutes for the computers to reset and then she could retest. The DMV staff member suggested that she take 20 minutes to study the handbook before taking the test a second time.
After a period of 20-30 minutes of studying, our Client again entered the testing area and began to take the written test. When she re-entered the testing area, she was carrying the Driver Handbook that had been provided to her only minutes earlier by the DMV employee. As the testing began, she placed the Driver Handbook on the counter bedside the computer. During the testing sequence, she never touched or opened the handbook; however a different DMV employee who was passing by saw the booklet on the desk, assumed she was cheating and terminated the testing. An “after action” report was written and sent to the DMV Headquarters in Sacramento where a Staff Member prepared a case accusing our Client of Fraudulent Activity.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. If a driver is involved in fraudulent activity while applying for a driver license, the DMV will act immediately to refuse, suspend or revoke the privilege regardless of the impact on the person’s life.
It is the DMV’s position that a person who cheats during a written examination must not possess the requisite knowledge or skill to drive and that it would be dangerous to allow an unqualified driver to operate a motor vehicle on our public roadways.
The California Vehicle Code determines that a person who commits an act of fraud shall be denied the privilege to drive for an indeterminate period of time, but no less than one-year.
Our Defense: California Drivers Advocates constructed a defense around the reality of who our client was and what had actually occurred. At the age of 35, our client had been safely driving in the State of New York and in countries abroad for more than 10 years. In that period of time, our client had not been involved in any traffic collisions and had not received any traffic citations. She had a demonstrated history of safe driving, despite the fact she driven on some of the most congested roadways in the country.
Clearly our client possessed the requisite skill to drive and was caught up in a fraudulent activity suspension as a result of the misperception of a passing DMV employee. There was nothing nefarious in her possessing the hand book during the testing.
As is always the case, our defense began with an extensive interview of our client to learn all we could about her and the events leading up to the allegation. We requested all of the evidence from the DMV to review their side of the story and to plan a path to rebutting that information. We spent a great deal of time, preparing our client for direct examination and cross-examination. Finally, we prepared extensively to cross-examine the DMV employee who was accusing our client of cheating.
As is often true, preparation was the key to success. Because our client was properly prepared, she was able to testify with great credibility and did not waiver on her claim of innocence. The true key to victory here, however, was the DMV’s failure to subpoena the witnessing employee and our refusal to allow a continuance so the DMV could correct its error. When we revealed that the DMV’s evidence did not provide enough information to prove cheating, the case was dismissed.
Outcome: At the conclusion of the Fraudulent Activity Hearing, the DMV Hearing Officer took the matter under submission. Two weeks later, we received the Hearing Officer’s written decision to terminate the action against our client and allow her to retake the Driver License Test. Of course, she passed with flying colors and her license was issued.
Today, our Client is enjoying her driving freedom and her record is clear.
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The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates have been fighting and winning Fraudulent Activity Hearings for many years. We excel at every type of administrative hearing handled by the DMV and have a history of winning. Call us and let us get you back on the road.
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