The one government agency that holds the most sway over all drivers in the State of California is the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Buried deep within the halls of the DMV is an enforcement bureau knows as the Division of Driver Safety. The Driver Safety Office is split into numerous “regional offices” which service large geographical areas. Referred to as the DSO. These regional offices are staffed by numerous support staff and managers. Chief among the DSO employees, however, are DMV Hearing Officers. Within the world of the DMV, a Hearing Officer enjoys the same power as a Superior Court Judge. They have the nearly unbridled power to review an issue and then act with impunity. At the conclusion of an Administrative Hearing, the Hearing Officer may a variety of actions that can range from returning the driver to the road all the way up to a life-time disqualification as a driver. They wield an enormous degree of power.
The Driver Safety Office and the Hearing Officers who are the “decision makers” use various sections of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) to justify the actions they take against a person’s driving privilege. A Hearing Officer may suspend or revoke a driving privilege for any of the following reasons: DUI, Violation of DUI Probation, Lack of Skill, Physical or Mental Problems, Fraudulent Activity, Lack of Financial Responsibility and Negligent Operation.
In this page, we focus on the section referred to “Negligent Operation.” The DMV will generally seek to label a driver as a Negligent Operator for three reasons:
- The driver has accumulated too many Negligent Operator Points. Also known as NOTS Points. This occurs when an individual receives too many moving violations or is involved in too many “at fault” traffic collisions within specified periods of time.
- The driver’s operation of a motor vehicle has “caused or contributed to” the serious injury to another person.
- The driver’s operation of a motor vehicle has “caused or contributed to” the death of another person.
If you have received a document from the DMV entitled, “ORDER OF SUSPENSION/REVOCATION NEGLIGENT OPERATOR/VIOLATION OF PROBATION.” It is clear the DMV believes you are a Negligent Operator and that they intend to take you off the road. At the center of this page, there are a series of check blocks that indicate why the DMV believes you qualify as a Negligent Operator. If the blocks are checked which indicate “because of our negligent driving activity, you have caused or contributed to a fatal accident,” there is no question what the DMV intends to do.
You will have only received this type of notice because the DMV firmly believes that by negligently operating a motor vehicle, you have caused an incident or collision which resulted in the fatal injury of another person. Because of this, the DMV will be intently focused on suspended or revoking your driving privilege for a minimum of one-year.
How Can I Protect Myself After Receiving an Order to Suspend my Driver License?
First you should know that by sending you an “Order of Suspension,” the DMV is not suggesting that they MAY suspend your driving privilege. This is an order which advises you that the decision has already been made to suspend your driving privilege and that the wheels are already in motion to make it happen.
Fortunately, California Law does require the DMV to grant a driver the opportunity to defend themselves and to demonstrate why the suspension their driving privilege is not warranted.
Everything the DMV does is “time-sensitive” and they are not willing to waive or extends deadlines without good cause. Thus, it is critical that you react to the intended suspension of your driving privilege in a professional, aggressive, but timely manner.
Telephone the DMV Defense Experts from California Drivers Advocates (CDA). Once you have received the “Order of Suspension” the DMV will only permit you a short “window of opportunity” to react. Normally, the form received will provide 10 to 14 days during which initial contact must be made with the DMV or the suspension of your driver license will be suspended. Once a driver retains us, we are ready to make appropriate contact to preserve your driving privilege. This includes the scheduling of a Negligent Operator-Fatality Hearing and getting the DMV to place a “Stay of Suspension” on your driver license so you may continue driving until the outcome of the hearing.
Initiate a complete investigation. The DMV Defense Experts from CDA use a team approach that includes the expertise former police officers, former DMV Hearing Officers, scientists and investigators. Using a proven method of complete investigation, we will seek out and compile evidence which sheds light on the truth about your traffic collision.
Prepare for the hearing. Once CDA has been retained and once the investigation has been completed, it is time to compile all information and lay out a winning defense strategy. Remember, the DMV only needs to demonstrate that you “caused or contributed to” the fatality, you don’t necessarily have to be the primary cause of the death. The DMV Defense Experts from CDA have years of experience planning for just this type of hearing. There are many ways to present your evidence in such a manner as to demonstrate that there was nothing different you could have done to prevent the fatality. There is no way you are a Negligent Operator.
Conduct the Negligent Operator Hearing. Proper investigation and preparation are critical, but unless the hearing is properly managed and executed, there is no point in even showing up. At a DMV administrative hearing, the Hearing Officer is permitted (in fact instructed) to presume that you caused the death of another person and they then turn to us to rebut that presumption. Essentially, this means you are guilty until we prove you innocent.
A Negligent Operator Hearing-Fatality is a full-blown evidentiary hearing where exhibits are introduced, evidence is examined, witnesses and expert may testify and legal arguments are heard. It is critical that your representative know the DMV’s game and know it well. At CDA, we have been fighting and winning Negligent Operator-Fatality Hearings for years. Once of our strongest assets is the ability to anticipate the DMV’s move. It is critical.
There must be a follow-through. When the DMV hearing ends, the Hearing Officer rarely makes a decision on the spot. Normally, there is a period of days or weeks while everyone anxiously awaits the hearing officer’s decision. It is important to stay in contact with the hearing officer and to monitor the progression of the case. Once the decision comes out, it is important that your DMV Defense Expert remain available and active in guiding you through the final steps.
If you are one of the unfortunate few who have learned about a Negligent Operator suspension after it went into effect, you are still entitled to a hearing.
Either way, you should contact a DMV Defense Expert immediately to assist you in scheduling, preparing for and conducting a Negligent Operator Hearing. There are many critical elements to winning a Negligent Operator Hearing and few people are equipped to handle such a hearing on their own.
Call CDA Today. We’re ready to guide you through the DMV process
Dealing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles is never a pleasant process and the stress you experience is much greater when the DMV is trying to suspend or revoke your driving privilege. If you have been involved in a fatality traffic collision, you very likely already suffering with a series of emotions of sadness, anger or even guilt.
Nothing we do will ever roll back the clock. There is no way for us to return the deceased to their family or to relieve you of the pain you suffer. On the other hand, there is a great deal we can do in guiding you through a very abusive, confusing and demanding governmental process that trying to suspend or revoke your driver license. Our team approach works. We conduct every manner of Administrative Hearing throughout the State of California and have becomes experts in Negligent Operator-Fatality Hearings. Give us a call, we can help.
More about Negligent Operators at the California DMV