Case History: California Drivers Advocates was engaged to defend a client whose driver license had been summarily revoke by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV took an immediate revocation action after they received a Confidential Morbidity Report from an emergency room physician reporting that our client had suffered a Lapse of Consciousness while sitting in a barber’s chair. Our client’s case was further complicated by the fact he has a long history of heart disease.
Our 64 year old client was diagnosed with coronary heart disease in 2005 after it was discovered that four of his arteries were occluded by plaque. He underwent a quadruple by-pass that was successful, but three years later it was discovered that three of the four arteries were again blocked. Our client has undergone angiograms on two separate occasions to clear the blockages.
On the morning of his fainting episode, our client awoke at home and started his day as he normally would. The one thing that differed was the he did not eat a proper meal and did a poor job of keeping himself hydrated. This particular day was one where Southern California was sweltering under a heat wave and the daytime temperatures were nearly 100 degrees.
Our client went to his favorite barber shop for a quick haircut. The barber shop was an “old style” shop with no air conditioning and very poor ventilation. Sitting in the barber’s chair, our client was overcome by a feeling of lightheadedness and he fainted. According to the barber, he was only unconscious for a few seconds but he was definitely “out.” After regaining consciousness, our client drank water and walked to his car to sit in an air conditioned environment. Being concerned about how his medical history might play into this event, he went to a hospital in La Jolla.
After extensive testing, the doctors did not find any correlation between his heart condition and the fainting episode; however, they felt that State Law mandated they report the “Lapse of Consciousness” to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position was crystal clear. Because the information provided by the treating emergency room physician was that our client had suffered a “lapse of consciousness”, even though he had not been driving, it was presumed he posed an immediate hazard to the motoring public and the DMV immediately issued an order removing him from the road. The DMV’s plan was to completely revoke our client’s driving privilege, and keep the license revoked, until such time as he could demonstrate his fitness to drive. So essentially, the DMV decided to act first and ask questions later.
Our Defense: When our client retained us, we immediately went to work to schedule his “Lapse of Consciousness” hearing with the Driver Safety Office in San Diego. Because the DMV refuses to grant a Stay of Revocation in these cases, we arraigned for the hearing to occur as quickly as possible.
Our defense began with a detailed interview of the client to determine his entire medical history and to examine the details of what had occurred. We then embarked on a structured and focused path to collect affirmative medical evidence for our case. Our client met with a specific series of physicians for medical examinations and then we encouraged the physicians to prepare Drivers Medical Evaluations to address each of their individual areas of medical expertise. In each case, the reporting physicians concluded that our client’s episode of fainting was probably the result of one of his prescribed medications, the heat and dehydration. Our Client also allowed himself to be fitted with a continuous heart monitor that is monitored 24/7 by the staff at a local hospital. Each doctor concluded that the single episode was not an indicator of future problems and each doctor cleared him for driving.
After weeks of preparation, we were ready to present our case. Because experience has taught us that DMV hearing officers will unexpectedly direct a driver to take a written test and a vision test, we had our client prepared. When we entered the Driver Safety Office, there was no requirement for a written or a vision test, but our client was ready nonetheless.
Because we had invested so much time to prepare our client for his hearing, he testified with great confidence and credibility. Our direct examination of the client was so comprehensive that the Hearing Officer only asked two questions during cross-examination. So confident was the hearing officer in our Client’s ability to drive that she did not order a “behind the wheel test.”
Our client had walked into the hearing with a revoked driving privilege. Three days later, we received the DMV’s decision in the mail that fully reinstated his driving privilege without any restriction or Medical Probation. Today our client is driving safely and continuing to monitor his health.
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.
If your driver license has been suspended or revoked because you suffer with a physical or mental condition characterized by a Lapse of Consciousness or control, don’t despair. There are thousands of Californians with challenging medical conditions who drive every day because they can prove that they medically stable.
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