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San Francisco Traffic Law Clinic
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Since 1985 San Francisco Traffic Law Clinic

They are the sights and sounds no driver ever wants to see or hear. They are flashing lights of a law enforcement vehicle pulling you over, or the disheartening thump or crunch of your vehicle colliding with another. While these things may have an immediate impact on you in areas like expense, they can also impact you in a longer-term sense -– through points on your driver’s license. Accumulating too many points in too short a period of time could mean losing your driving privileges, which can have dramatically harmful collateral impacts on your life, including losing your ability to do things for your family and perhaps even losing your job. If you’ve been assigned points, there may be a way to get that reversed, however. To get as many points as possible reversed, be sure you’ve contacted a knowledgeable San Francisco DMV attorney.

First off, there are some types of infractions that do not result in points on your license. These can include things like non-moving violations (such as a license plate light that isn’t working). When it comes to a points-based license suspension, these violations won’t factor into that calculation.

One-point violations include a variety of things. Anything from speeding to making an unsafe lane change to running a stop sign to causing an accident will generally net you one point on your license. Two point violations generally involve more serious offenses like a DUI, hit-and-run, driving on a suspended license, speeding at 100 mph+, and reckless driving.

The San Francisco Superior Court granted a motion to suppress a handgun found in a car that was searched by a Police Officer after he smelled the weaker odor of unburnt marijuana. The car, driven by a husband on a date-night with his wife, was stopped on the Embarcadero for not having current registration tags

The officer said he needed to search the car to determine if the driver had ingested marijuana and therefore was impaired and to determine compliance with the new marijuana laws. But, the officer did not observe any signs of impaired driving and the driver repeatedly denied that there was any marijuana in the car.

The officer searched the car and found three empty dispensary containers. He then continued his search and found a loaded handgun registered to the female passenger, in a closed back by her feet. He cited the passenger and arrested the driver, an ex-felon, for possession of the gun.

New and changed laws that took effect January 1 will affect drivers in California. The following information was issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Temporary License Plate Program (AB 516, Mullin): Designed to reduce toll evasion

Licensed California dealers, of new and used vehicles must attach temporary paper license plates on a vehicle at the point of sale before it may be driven off the dealership lot, if that vehicle does not display license plates previously issued by the DMV.

On February 6, 2018, San Francisco introduced legislation to eliminate all criminal justice administrative fees and cancel all outstanding debt from these criminal justice fees. The ordinance changed the Administrative Code to abolish fees associated with probation costs, restitution, booking, the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program, the automated county warrant system, the Sheriff’s Home Detention Program, and to abolish local penalties associated with alcohol testing and court-ordered penalties for misdemeanor and felony offenses.

Criminal Justice Fees: Another form of punishment that burdens the poor

Local criminal justice fees are designed to generate revenue to cover costs but they often create another form of punishment. These fees imposed on people who have already been punished by the criminal justice system through jail time, fines and victim restitution, can amount to thousands of dollars. In San Francisco the fees can include a $50 monthly probation fee; up to $35 a day to rent an electronic ankle surveillance monitor, and other fees to pay for reports, collections costs, or tests.

Like any governmental agency, the DMV is an imperfect machine and, while those responsible for deciding who drives and who doesn’t may have good intentions, that “imperfect machine ” may still sometimes take away driving privileges from people who shouldn’t be sidelined. When that happens to you due to your alleged history of lapses of consciousness, you need to be sure you have skilled San Francisco DMV defense counsel on your side.

The array of medical maladies that can cause lapses of consciousness are varied, ranging from epilepsy to sleep disorders (like sleep apnea or narcolepsy) to diabetes to other seizure disorders. You should be aware that the lapse of consciousness that triggers DMV action need not be a massive seizure or total blackout; it can be something as simple as falling asleep at the wheel. The DMV has various means of learning about a driver’s lapse-of-consciousness-inducing medical disorder, although it often happens as a result of being informed by a physician. In other instances, the DMV may obtain information from a family member or an anonymous tipster.

It is very important to keep in mind that, if the DMV determines that your condition represents a danger to you or others on the road as a result of your propensity for losing consciousness, it will seek to suspend or revoke your driving privileges in a very quick manner. As a result, you may find that your driving privileges were suspended or revoked immediately.

A lawyers association has standing to sue the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for alleged waste of government funds in conducting unfair administrative hearings. The California Dui Lawyers Association (CDLA) brought a taxpayer action claiming the DMV wasted funds by violating the due process of drivers in DMV’s administrative per se hearings. DMV administrative per se hearings determine whether automatic suspension of drivers’ licenses are warranted after drivers are arrested for driving under the influence.

The DMV Administrative Per Se or APS System

The DMV’s “administrative per se” or “APS” system is used to suspend a driver’s license following an arrest for driving under the influence. Under the administrative per se law, DMV must immediately suspend the driver’s license of a person who is driving with .08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood. An administrative per se hearing does not impose criminal penalties “but simply suspends a person’s driver’s license as an administrative matter upon a showing the person was arrested for driving with a certain blood-alcohol concentration ….” Continue reading

Californians with criminal records face obstacles and barriers to employment. For example, Uber has announced more intense screening of its drivers, including background checks every two years and checks on new criminal and DUI charges. But recent laws limit how employers may use an applicant’s criminal history and open licensed professions to those with criminal records.

California Criminal Background Check Reform

The Fair Chance Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, is a “Ban the Box” law that prohibits employers from:

Senate Bill 1437 takes effect January 1, 2019 and will limit first-degree felony-murder for any aider-abettor who is not the actual killer. Under this new law, a defendant must be the actual killer, act with intent to kill, or be a major participant in the underlying felony who acted with reckless indifference to human life to be convicted of murder.

Eligibilty for Senate Bill 1437 Resentencing

• Certain accomplices to the underlying felony who were convicted of first degree felony murder.

California law gives the DMV the authority to suspend a driver’s driving privileges for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons involves physical or medical problems. These conditions can range from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s to diabetes to cataracts. If the DMV is considering taking your license due to medical problems, you have options. Talk to a skilled San Francisco DMV defense attorney to find out more about how you can possibly avoid this type of license suspension.

The DMV is tasked with ensuring that all those with active California driver’s licenses can drive safely. When the DMV contemplates suspending a driver’s license, there are certain conditions that can commonly cause a possible suspension. One problem is loss of consciousness. That can trigger a suspension whether or not you were driving when you blacked out. Other conditions can include epilepsy or anything else that causes seizures, sleep disorders (including sleep apnea), Parkinson’s, dementia, diabetes, heart problems or vision problems/deterioration.

Certainly, the ability to drive legally is something that is very important to many Californians, including seniors. Driving privileges represent independence, freedom and self-reliance. Loss of those privileges can cause many damaging things from a loss of self-esteem to a loss of employment. With all that in mind in making these decisions, the DMV is supposed to balance a driver’s need for personal mobility against the public’s need for safety on the roads.

Whether you’re a law school graduate taking the bar exam, an investment professional taking the Series 7, a high school student taking the SAT or ACT for your college applications or an individual taking the written exam required for your driver’s license, you know the stress and pressure of needing to perform on a written test. Unfortunately, that pressure can sometimes cause some people to seek a “leg up” through improper means, such as cheating. And that fact also unfortunately means that the DMV, in its effort to root out cheating, may sometimes identify certain examinees as cheaters when they really weren’t. The consequences of an assertion by the DMV that you cheated on a written driver’s exam can be very serious in California, so if the DMV had made such a claim you should take it seriously and engage in all the necessary steps to protect yourself, including contacting a skilled San Francisco DMV defense attorney.

A person can engage in what California calls “fraudulent activity” in a written DMV test in several ways. One way is to sit for the test and to cheat (by actions such as using a “cheat sheet”) during the completion of the exam. Another way is to have someone pretend to be you and take the exam in your place. These actions aren’t just against DMV rules, they are a violation of California law. If a person is found guilty of having violated this statute, the state can prosecute the violation as a misdemeanor crime, which means that the violator could possibly face a fine or even jail time.

Certainly, most people aren’t going to jail for allegedly cheating on their written driving tests. However, the consequences are still very serious. Perhaps the DMV required you to come in to take (and pass) a written test in order to complete the re-examination process and avoid a lack-of-skill suspension. An allegation of cheating will result in an automatic declaration that you failed the test, which means that you will lose your license and that the suspension will be in place for 12 months.