What is a Financial Responsibility Hearing? If the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) learns that the driver or owner of a motor vehicle was involved in a “reportable traffic collision,” and that there was no Proof of Financial Responsibility in affect at the time of the accident, the DMV will notify the driver or owner of the department’s intention to suspend or revoke their driver license.
If a driver or owner believes that the DMV is acting on erroneous, incorrect, or incomplete information, the accused person has a right to schedule and conduct an Administrative Hearing before the Department of Motor Vehicles at the Driver Safety Office.
Known as a Financial Responsibility Hearing, this process is a full-blown legal proceeding that is run very much like a mini-trial. The DMV will present its evidence and witnesses in an endeavor to establish good cause to suspend or revoke the driver license. The accused person is then also permitted to introduce his or her own evidence and witnesses. Legal objections are filed and arguments are heard. This hearing is run in strict accordance with the California Administrative Code and the California Code of Civil Procedures. It is unlikely that the average California driver will have the training or experience necessary to navigate this process so representation by a DMV Defense Expert is highly recommended.
The legal issues, however, are very narrow. The DMV Hearing Officer must focus upon the following issues:
- Was the driver involved in a reportable traffic collision (regardless of who is at fault)?
- Was there property damage in excess of $750 to any vehicle or other real property?
- Was anyone injured (however slight) or was there a death?
A properly trained and highly experienced DMV Defense Expert will know all the nuances of the Financial Responsibility Law and how to fight for your rights. Don’t leave anything to chance. Don’t let the DMV steamroll you into the loss of your driving privilege and the unnecessary increase in insurance rates. Call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates, we can help!
How do I schedule a Financial Responsibility Hearing? In almost all instances, a California driver will learn that they have become the focus of a DMV suspension or revocation action when they open a letter from the department. The DMV announces its intention to suspend or revoke your driving privilege by mailing you an “Order of Suspension.” As you read the notice further, you will learn the DMV suspects you have been involved in a reportable traffic collision and that your vehicle was not properly insured. The notice will provide a date that the suspension becomes effective and will also advise that you have a right to a hearing to show why the suspension is not warranted. If an accused driver wishes to defend themselves, there is a requirement that contact be made with the DMV’s Financial Responsibility Unit in Sacramento to formally request a Financial Responsibility Hearing. This contact must be made in writing and must be made within 10 days from the date the Notice of Suspension was prepared. The written request for hearing must establish those issues you intend to attack and why a hearing is warranted.
Once the Request for Financial Responsibility Hearing is received in Sacramento, the Financial Responsibility Unit will make a determination as to whether the request is appropriate and timely. If the hearing request is granted, the Financial Responsibility Unit will transfer the driver’s file to the Driver Safety Office located nearest to that person’s home. When the local Driver Safety Office receives the file, they will contact the driver or the driver’s representative to schedule a date for the Financial Responsibility Hearing.
Simply requesting a Financial Responsibility Hearing does not automatically ensure that a Stay of Suspension will be granted. California Vehicle Code section 16075(d) determines that a Stay of Suspension will not be granted unless the Financial Responsibility Hearing cannot be conducted and a decision be made, prior to the effective date of the suspension. Practically speaking, the DMV is rarely able to convene a hearing and render a decision in such a short period of time, but a Stay of Suspension must be requested, nonetheless.
Do I need help to schedule a Financial Responsibility Hearing? The short answer is no. California drivers have the right to contact the DMV’s Financial Responsibility Unit on their own to make a request for a Financial Responsibility Hearing. However, just like a smart person does not deal with a court issue on their own, a smart driver will not attempt to deal with the DMV without assistance.
You should contact the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates for guidance. Our team has been scheduling, conducting and winning Financial Responsibility Hearings for years. We are able to anticipate every game the DMV will play in an attempt to block your request for a hearing.
Don’t relinquish your driving privilege without a fight and don’t attempt to fight the DMV without a defense expert at your side. Call CDA today.
More about Financial Responsibility Hearings at the California DMV