Case History: California Drivers Advocates was retained to represent a client whose driver license had been automatically suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles after the department received a Confidential Morbidity Report from a physician reporting that he had suffered a fainting episode, also known as “Syncope.” The doctor’s Confidential Morbidity Report was further exacerbated by an additional Medical Report that flatly stated our client was not safe to drive.
Our 59 year old client is an elementary school principal who holds several college degrees and certifications to operate in numerous educational disciplines. He is also an avid bicyclist who has a habit of riding hundreds of miles in any given week. To say the least he is in prime physical condition.
On a sunny day in January 2017, our client was nearing the end of a 32 mile bicycle ride that took him into the hills above the City of Irwindale and near the Santa Fe Dam. He evidently did a poor job of hydrating himself and suffered an episode of Syncope as he rode into his neighborhood. One moment he was just enjoying his ride and the next moment he was on his back and being treated by paramedics.
Our Client was transported to the trauma center at Huntington Memorial Hospital. After fainting on his bicycle, he crashed and suffered a blow to the face and a concussion. While at the hospital, he underwent extensive medical testing as the staff tried to discover the source of his Syncope. In the end, the hospital staff was perplexed and simply attributed the Syncope to dehydration and physical exertion. There was no report to the DMV at that point.
The next day, our Client met with his primary care physician who referred him to a neurologist and a cardiologist. Two days later, he met with both of those physicians. Both doctors ordered a round of new testing to discover the source of the Syncope. The neurologist felt that the mandates of California State Law left her no option but to report the incident to the DMV. She prepared both a Confidential Morbidity Report and a Driver Medical Evaluation to terminate our Client’s privilege to drive. Just days later our Client received an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail.
DMV’s Position: The California DMV’s position is always crystal clear in cases like this. Because the Neurologist’s reports suggested that our Client had suffered an episode of “Syncope” of unknown etiology, the DMV ruled the episode as a “Lapse of Consciousness or Control,” and immediately suspended the driver license. The fact that this episode did not occur while our Client was driving was irrelevant to the DMV. The conventional wisdom is that ANY lapse of consciousness or control could indicate an underlying problem that could affect driving and that possibility was reason enough to remove our Client from the road.
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 the City of Covina. Because the DMV refuses to grant a Stay of Suspension in these cases, we arranged for the hearing to occur as quickly as possible, but because our client commutes to work each day, any period of suspension created a tremendous hardship.
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 several physicians for medical examinations and extensive testing. 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 Syncope was likely the result of physical exertion and dehydration; however, during neurological testing, it was discovered that our client had a Vascular Angioma in the brain that should be monitored. Although this was not the source of the Syncope, it was important that it was discovered.
After weeks of preparation, we were ready to present our case. Years of experience in representing drivers has taught us to be prepared for anything. Because of this, our client was prepared for a written test, a vision test and a driving test if required. Fortunately, none of that was required; however, our client was prepared nonetheless.
We have also learned that diligently preparing our clients for testimony is vital. Because we invested so much time to prepare our client to testify, he did so with great confidence and credibility. Our direct examination of the client was so comprehensive that the Hearing Officer asked a total of five questions during cross-examination.
Our client had walked into the hearing with a suspended driving privilege. Sixty minutes later, he walked out of the hearing with his driving privilege fully reinstated without any restriction or Medical Probation. The assigned Hearing Officer was so impressed with our presentation and our Client’s testimony that he ended the suspension “on the spot” and issued an Order of Set Aside/Reinstatement. By 5:30 pm that day, our client was back on the road.
Call CDA Today. Let us put you on the road to victory!
The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates include Administrative Advocates, 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 disorder 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. Just because a person has fainted or has diabetes, epilepsy or other seizure disorders doesn’t mean they can’t drive.
These hearings can be won and you can be returned to driving. Let us get you there. Don’t let the DMV steal your driver license without a fight; and don’t try to beat the DMV without the assistance of someone who knows the game.