What is the Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation? Whenever a new California driver applies for their original driver license, they must be properly vetted and qualified. This examination process includes several steps:
- A background check to confirm proper identity
- A background check to confirm valid residency in the State of California
- A written examination to test a person’s knowledge of laws and roadway signs
- A vision test
- A “Behind the Wheel” driving test to ensure the person possesses the skill to drive.
The “behind the wheel” test taken by all original applicants is referred to as the Driving Performance Evaluation (DPE). The DPE is specifically designed to test a person’s knowledge of the safe operation of a motor vehicle in a variety of environments.
Once the California Driver License is issued, the DMV will monitor the driver for the remainder of their driving life to ensure they always maintain the ability to safely drive. If at any point, the DMV receives information or suspects that a driver may have developed a physical or mental condition that makes them unsafe to drive; or if the DMV suspects the person no longer possesses the skill to drive, the department will “re-examine” that driver to determine if there is good cause to suspend or revoke the driver license.
As part of the “Re-Examination” process, it is common for the DMV to require the driver to take a Supplemental Driving Performance Examination (SDPE). The SDPE is specifically designed to evaluate the driving skills of drivers who may have developed problems with vision, hearing or any other type of physical or mental condition that makes them unsafe to drive.
Although the DMV adamantly denies focusing upon mature drivers, there is no secret that the vast majority of drivers subjected to the SDPE are those who are older than 55 years of age. The reality of life is that as we age, our bodies tend to betray us. As our population ages, senior drivers are becoming the focus of DMV administrative suspensions in alarming numbers. This being said however, the DMV will vigorously re-examine any driver, at any age, if they believe there is cause.
Because the Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation tends to focus more on a person’s physical and mental ability to drive, the test can seem more difficult than the original Driving Performance Evaluation that we took when we were young. Combine that with the fact that drivers will develop bad habits over years of driving; and the anxiety that can occur when driving with an examiner in the car, and the SDPE can be quite challenging.
What happens if I fail the Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation? At the end of a Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation (SDPE), the driving examiner should discuss the results with the driver. He or she should point out any errors that were made and spend additional time discussing any “critical errors.” The examiner should provide the driver with a copy of the evaluation checklist and then tell the driver to expect contact from the Driver Safety Office.
Once the evaluation is complete, the driving examiner is required to write a report that is forwarded to a Hearing Officer at the local Driver Safety Office. In most instances, the failure to pass a SDPE will result in an Order of Suspension. The suspension will likely be based upon a physical or mental condition or because the failure means you Lack the Skill to drive.
The opportunity to take the SDPE multiple times is not guaranteed. It has been the DMV’s practice however, to allow a person to challenge the SDPE more than once provided there is no immediate hazard to the public and provided there appears to be improvement with each attempt.
In almost all instances, navigating the DMV process can be quite frustrating and is not “user friendly.” If you are facing the suspension of your driver license for any reason, including the failure to pass a SDPE, you are entitled to be represented by an expert in DMV Defense. You don’t have to fight the DMV alone.
If the DMV is suspending your driver license contact CDA. We can help! The DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates have been fighting to protect the driving privilege of Californians for many years. The California Department of Motor Vehicles is armed with an entire litany of reasons to suspend or revoke a person’s driving privilege. With very few exceptions, the DMV must provide a driver the opportunity to defend themselves. California law permits any accused driver to be represented by a professional who knows how to beat the DMV at their own game.