What is a School Bus Drivers Special Certificate Hearing at the DMV? The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the government entity empowered to certify qualified citizens to drive motor vehicles. Certain categories of drivers who operate specialized vehicles or transport passengers or hazardous cargo, are required to maintain Special Certificates to operate those vehicles. In addition to having the power to issue a Special Certificate, the DMV has the nearly unbridled power to restrict, suspend, or revoke a driving privilege or Special Certificate at will. With virtually no governmental oversight, the California DMV will take a disciplinary action against a school bus driver by refusing to issue or revoking a School Bus Drivers Special Certificate for virtually any reason.
The School Bus Driver represents the pinnacle of professional drivers. There is no category of driver who transports a cargo more precious than our children. Because children can be vulnerable, the California DMV seeks to ensure that only the most trusted and most highly trained individuals are allowed to possess the School Bus Driver Special Certificate. As such, the School Bus Driver is the one category of professional driver who’s professional and personal lives are subject to constant review and monitoring.
If you have received notification from the California DMV that they are refusing to issue you a School Bus Driver Special Certificate or; if the DMV is acting to revoke an already existing School Bus Driver Special Certificate, you must understand what is happening. The notice you received in the mail is unequivocal. The DMV is not announcing that they MAY take your Special Certificate. They are announcing that they HAVE or WILL refuse or revoke your Special Certificate…Period! This is going to happen unless you take the positive step to defend yourself.
The only way to save your driving career is to schedule, conduct, and win a School Bus Drivers Special Certificate Hearing at your local Driver Safety Office. The School Bus Drivers Special Certificate Hearing is a formal, legal proceeding conducted under the guidelines of California Administrative Law, the California Code of Procedures, and the California Vehicle Code. At your hearing, evidence is presented, sworn testimony is given, objections are made, and legal arguments are submitted.
Once the hearing is concluded, the DMV Hearing Officer will make a recommendation that is then sent to a School Bus Driver Certificate Review Board. The review board meets one time per month and reviews the recommendations from DMV Hearing Officers from throughout the state. It is the review board who renders a final decision on the status of your School Bus Driver Special Certificate. Generally, the School Bus Driver Certificate Review Board is comprised of three members:Representative from the DMV, a Representative from the CHP, a Representative from the State Board of Education.
Why Does the DMV Refuse or Revoke a School Bus Drivers Special Certificate?
Normally the DMV will refuse to grant the application for a School Bus Driver Special Certificate; or will move to suspend or revoke an existing certificate, when it receives information which it considers to be contrary to the “higher standard” placed upon school bus drivers. The DMV accepts “information” from a variety of sources which it then uses to assess the viability of a driver receiving or maintaining a special certificate. The DMV will often receive information from:
While the DMV will seek to refuse or revoke a Special Certificate for nearly any reason, the vast majority of action taken by the DMV to refuse, suspend, or revoke a School Bus Driver Special Certificate begins with the DMV receiving information from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the FBI regarding an applicant’s/driver’s arrest or conviction of a crime. The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) houses an enormous computer data base designed to store criminal information data it receives from a variety of law enforcement sources. NCIC has been in existence for decades and, despite many technological advances, is still hampered by technical difficulties and; in some instances, contains incorrect, inaccurate or, stale information. NCIC reports can be convoluted and very difficult to read. An arrest alone is sufficient reason for the DMV to refuse or revoke a School Bus Driver Special Certificate. A court conviction is not required.
- The DMV’s Commercial Driver License Unit.
- The California Highway Patrol.
- Federal, State, County and Local Law Enforcement Agencies.
- Department of Justice (or FBI) Criminal History Reports.
- Physicians and other Medical Professionals.
- Insurance Companies.
- Friends, neighbors and family.
- Students or parents.
- Media reports.
When the DMV receives information that an applicant for a School Bus Driver Special Certificate; or the holder of an existing Certificate, has a history of any disqualifying event, the DMV will immediately move to take action against that driver. The DMV may issue a warning letter or they may process an order to refuse, cancel, suspend or revoke the certificate. In its desire to protect our children, the DMV will routinely take this action without the support of police reports or court records. Essentially, if the DMV receives information that it considers worrisome, it will take an action against a driver’s Special Certificate and wait to see if the driver appears to argue the issue. It is not until a driver requests an Administrative Hearing and a “Stay” of suspension/revocation that the DMV requests supporting documents. If you don’t fight to protect your School Bus Driver Special Certificate, the DMV will take it away based on what may be completely inaccurate or outdated information. There are numerous examples of a driver being denied a Special Certificate because the DMV learns of a petty crime that occurred twenty years earlier and assumes that a past example of “moral turpitude” is a current representation of the driver today.
When a driver receives notification that the DMV is taking an action against his or her Special Certificate, there is always a “time sensitive” element to the notification. In almost all instances, the driver must request an Administrative Hearing within the first 15 days after the receipt of notification. At the same time the Administrative Hearing is being requested, a request to “stay” the suspension or revocation should be filed. For those drivers holding a School Bus Certificate, the DMV’s decision to grant or deny a “stay” is often predicated upon whether or not the safety of students is in question.
In those certificate actions involving the School Bus Driver Special Certificate, the DMV routinely denies a request for “stay” and the certificate is immediately suspended pending the outcome of the hearing. This can be terribly burdensome on a school bus driver as this could cost him his job. Approached properly, however, the DMV does have the discretion to grant the “stay of suspension” upon a foundational showing that the stay would not pose a significant risk to the safety of transported persons.
What Happens if I Don’t Schedule a School Bus Driver Special Certificate Hearing?
Remember, if you are applying for, or are the current holder of a School Bus Driver Special Certificate, you are held to a much higher standard of training and certification than any other professional driver. Because you transport our most precious resource, your professional and private conduct is under constant scrutiny. If the holder of a School Bus Driver Special Certificate receives notice from the California Department of Motor Vehicles that their Special Certificate is about to be “Refused/Suspended/Revoked”…. AND …. If the effected driver does nothing to schedule a Special Certificate Hearing in a timely manner, the DMV will refuse, suspend, or revoke the Certificate…. Period! This is unequivocal. If your professional driving career is important to you, taking no action is not an option. You must fight to protect yourself.
Most school bus drivers spend years preparing to transport our children. Most school bus drivers derive their income and a personal sense of achievement by earning and maintaining the School Bus Driver Special Certificate. Don’t let the DMV turn your life upside down. Don’t let them take you away from your chosen career without a fight.
More about Special Certificate Hearings at the California DMV