California DMV Negligent Operator Hearing

In California you can be suspended if you incur too many points during a certain time period. Here is the maximum amount of points you can incur:

Point Count Time Period
4 Within 12 months
6 Within 24 months
8 Within 36 months

The good news is that if you receive a notice of suspension and within 14 days contact an attorney to request a hearing, most suspensions can be avoided.

The following are the issues at a hearing:

Severity and Pattern of Violations and Collisions

Review of the driving record should determine and consider the severity of the violations (i.e. DUI, hit & run, etc.).

The driver record should also be reviewed to determine if it shows a pattern of repeated violations or collisions. Examples include:

Multiple speed violations.
Right of way violations.
Signal and stop sign violations.
Patterns of violations and collisions should be compared to the driver’s proposed corrective measures and weighed in evaluating whether the driver’s plans for improvement are reasonable and credible.

Insight and Acceptance of Responsibility

The driving record will be reviewed to determine if the driver has a history of driving negligence, or if this is the first case of negligent operation. Stated remorse for past negligent driving may not by itself constitute evidence of the driver’s understanding or acceptance of traffic safety responsibilities. The driver should offer some explanation that demonstrates that he or she understands and accepts his or her behavior and that insight will result or has resulted in corrective measures.

Prior history of suspensions for negligence should be weighed in evaluating the credibility of the driver’s current expressions of concern for traffic safety and the reasonableness of the driver’s plans for improvement.

Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigation means extenuating, contributory factors, offered by the driver to lessen the degree of negligence. Mitigating circumstances will be weighed against the amount and seriousness of negligence shown by the evidence of the driving record and the driver’s testimony.

Example: She drives taxi in downtown San Francisco traffic, avoids many collisions, but unable to avoid them all. (High mileage and extreme driving conditions.)

It is not possible to list all the circumstances which may be considered “mitigating.” A circumstance may be mitigating in one case and not in another. The hearing officer determines if the mitigating circumstances reduce the negligence shown by the record.

Plans for Improvement/Corrective Measures

The driver may offer testimony that he/she believes lessens the degree of negligence shown by the record. The best evidence of correction of driving habits is a description of specific and reasonable steps that are currently being taken and of the control measures used to discourage “backsliding.”

Example: A driver with a speeding problem who shows evidence that a cruise control has been installed in the vehicle and plans to activate the cruise control on freeways, may have a greater chance of following through on a promise to slow down.

Any plans presented will be examined in light of the driver’s credibility and past actions in these circumstances.

Vehicle Use and Mileage

“Use” is interpreted to include the driver’s total vehicle use as well as use for work, school, medical treatments, or other routine activities the driver regards as significant. “Mileage traveled” includes both employment and nonemployment mileage.

Example: She previously drove a taxi in downtown San Francisco, she recently quit the job and is now working as a waitress.

The Vehicle Code does not limit consideration to employment related driving, nor does it specify how the driver’s amount of use and mileage should be weighed.

Hardship

In some cases, the driver may present mitigation relating to hardship. Hardship may include situations where:

The driver is a major contributor or sole provider of his or her family income.
Alternative transportation is not available for significant, routine activities, such as school, medical treatments, or employment.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV.
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