Articles Posted in DMV Issues

One of the most frightening non-criminal bureaucratic actions the state can impose against you is the suspension of your driver’s license. That suspension may affect not only your sense of personal freedom but your very livelihood. If you find yourself facing a possible loss of your California driver’s license based upon a “lack of skill” suspension, you should be aware that there can be several steps to the process, which means that you have several opportunities to present information that may help you avoid this kind of license suspension. To work toward avoiding this suspension, it is important to understand the difference between a lack-of-skill interview as opposed to a lack-of-skill hearing, and how you need to handle each type of event. As with any type of situation that may impact your continued ability to drive legally, make sure you’ve retained an experienced San Francisco DMV defense attorney to give you the advice you need.

As noted above, an interview is very distinct from a hearing. The interview phase takes place near the beginning of a lack-of-skill case. One mistake that too many people make is that they fail to appreciate the seriousness of a loss-of-skill interview. They do not recognize the risks facing them and walk into the interview ill-prepared. These unprepared drivers may not be ready for the questions they get from the hearing officer and, due to that lack of preparation and knowledge, do not know how to respond properly to the questions they’re asked. When that happens, this interview process may go badly and be enough to lead the DMV to issue a suspension.

If the DMV does suspend your license after the interview phase, then the hearing phase may follow. To get your case to a hearing, though, you have to act properly and quickly. You must make a valid request and get the hearing scheduled within 14 days. At your hearing, the outcome you’re looking for is a reversal of that suspension of your license. To get that outcome, it once again (just as in the interview phase) comes down to solid preparation and giving the hearing officer what he/she needs to hear/see in order to determine that you are, in fact, safe to drive.

Everyone who has gone through the (often stressful) process of obtaining a driver’s license knows “the drill.” You have to pass a written test and you must also pass a “behind the wheel” exam to get your license. What’s more, you may have to take (and pass) one or both again if you’ve had problems behind the wheel and been referred to the DMV for supplemental testing. Many people are able to pass these tests on the first or second attempt. However, what do you do if you find yourself struggling with the road test? If you cannot pass this behind-the-wheel test, even after multiple tries, should you just give up and accept that you will be unable to drive legally? No, you should not. You still have options. To learn more about ways to deal with your struggles with your driving test, contact a knowledgeable San Francisco DMV defense attorney right away to learn how you may be able to drive going forward.

There are actually several ways that you can be referred to the DMV for a Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation (SDPE). You may have been involved in a traffic violation, traffic accident or unsafe driving observed by a law enforcement officer, or you may have been referred by a medical provider. (Doctors are required to inform the DMV about any conditions that could impact a driver’s ability to drive safely.)

As you can see from these descriptions, seniors can be one group that is particularly susceptible to being referred to the DMV for supplemental testing. Even an ordinary accident may trigger a referral if you’re a senior and you were legally to blame for the accident. Also, if you experienced a major medical event, that illness alone could lead to the referral.

You don’t have to be in a large urban center like San Francisco or Oakland to be somewhere where traffic violations are a concern. In fact, recently, the police department for the northern California city of Eureka announced that it had received a $60,000 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety to engage in a “year-long enforcement and public awareness program.” In addition to things like DUI checkpoints, the police indicated that the program would seek to crack down on speeding, traffic signal and stop sign non-compliance, and distracted driving.

While most people consider a moving violation to be serious, as it may involve a steep fine and possibly points on your license (if it is not successfully challenged), there are some encounters with law enforcement that can trigger even more severely negative consequences. One of those possible consequences for some is the “lack of skill” suspension of your driving privileges. If you’re facing that scenario, don’t delay. Contact an experienced San Francisco DMV defense attorney right away.

A lack of skill suspension can be triggered by any of a variety of events. Those can include accidents, failing to pass a written test, failing to pass a driving test or a referral from law enforcement based upon your moving violations or alleged erratic driving. In some situations, this process may take place in multiple steps. For example, say a woman in her late 80s has an accident in which she strikes a parked car several times. Police respond and the officer requests that the DMV perform a regular reexamination of the driver. Failing to appear or appearing and failing to pass (either the written test or the driving test) could trigger a lack-of-skill suspension.

California has something called an “implied consent” law. This means if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, it is implied that you have consented to a blood or breath test. Your refusal can trigger a suspension of your driver’s license. You may be able to avoid that license suspension, however, if you can show the DMV that your failure to provide a sample was due to a medical ailment not related to your intoxication. To make this argument, you’ll need to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. Given the importance of driving privileges to most any Californian, a potential suspension is a very serious punishment and requires prompt and serious action, including retaining a skilled San Francisco DMV defense attorney.

R.G.’s case was one that involved a license suspension. R.G.’s encounter with a deputy sheriff began with a traffic stop for failing to lower his high-beam headlights. Things got worse for R.G. The deputy detected what he believed to be bloodshot, watery eyes and droopy eyelids. The deputy also perceived what he believed to be the smell of alcohol. R.G. performed some field sobriety tests and performed poorly. R.G. declined to take preliminary alcohol screening.

The deputy then gave R.G. the implied consent advisement and explained blood and breath tests. The driver chose a breath test but was unsuccessful in providing a sufficient breath sample. A phlebotomist arrived after that, but R.G. refused a blood test, according to the department. He also allegedly refused to take another breath test.

On September 21 of this year, the Sacramento Bee reported that Governor Jerry Brown directed the DMV to undergo an audit. The governor’s directive placed the task of handling the audit, which will focus on extremely long wait times and outdated technology, with the Department of Finance instead of the State Auditor. The audit comes on the heels of an explosion in wait times at the DMV, with some Californians at certain field offices having to wait multiple hours to receive service.

While this issue might not seem like a “big deal” to some, the problem of excessively long wait times at a DMV office is far from a trivial matter. For many working people in California, including the state’s poor and undocumented immigrants, waiting multiple hours at the DMV means taking multiple hours off from work which, in turn, means multiple hours for which they’re not getting paid wages, putting even greater financial strain on these vulnerable families. While many of the people in the recent news reports simply sought to obtain or renew their licenses, others face different problems from the DMV, such as a license suspension. If your DMV issues require the utilization of the legal system, be sure to contact a knowledgeable San Francisco DMV defense attorney about your situation.

Back in early September, the New York Times reported on the frustrating conditions at certain DMV offices. At the Hollywood office, the wait time to renew a driver’s license approached two hours, according to the report. In an NBC Bay Area report, one woman told the source that it took her five hours to get a driver’s license at the South San Jose office. Some Bay Area patrons reported waiting two hours even with an appointment, according to NBC. Patrons in Hollywood told the Times that there was a six-week wait to get an appointment at the DMV, which is why many people showed up without an appointment

If you get on the Internet and use any popular search engine, you’ll find many web pages devoted to attempting to answer the question, “How do I get points on my driver’s license removed?” In California, there are some options. If you have been charged with a traffic violation, you should definitely consult a knowledgeable San Francisco traffic ticket defense attorney about your possibilities.

The least proactive way to get points off your license is also one of the slowest methods for achieving results. That option is, simply, waiting. Minor offenses generally are removed from your record after approximately 39 months. More significant offenses, like DUI, can stay on your record for up to 10 years, however.

Another way that you possibly can clear points is by successfully completing traffic school. Successfully completing traffic school does not take a point off your license, exactly; it allows you to avoid ever having that point attached to the license at all. Today, there are various options for completing traffic school. You can do it in person or can complete a program online. It is important to make sure that the program you complete is one that is recognized and approved by California.

For many people, decisions by the DMV to suspend their driving privileges are massive and severe penalties. Many people must drive to earn a living, tend to their loved ones and even secure food to eat. Being left without driving as an option could potentially put them in a terrible situation. That’s why, as the state rolls out news law that impact what offenses can cost you “points on your license,” it is important to understand how that points system works, and what you can do if the DMV suspends your license based on those points. One of the first actions you may want to consider taking is to reach out to an experienced San Francisco DMV defense attorney about your situation.

The most recent change with regard to points relates to marijuana. Back on Jan. 1, 2018, the recreational use of marijuana became legal in California. That same day, another new law went into effect, which made smoking or otherwise consuming marijuana (or marijuana products) illegal for any driver or passenger in a vehicle, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The new law functions somewhat similarly to the state’s “open container” laws regarding alcohol. The penalty for violating this new law is that the DMV will assess negligent operator points for a violation.

With that in mind, you may be asking yourself how exactly the “negligent operator” points system works. The state’s negligent operator treatment system, also known as NOTS, is a program designed to curtail certain driving behaviors. A violation can carry anywhere from 0 to 3 negligent operator points. For example, speeding is generally a one-point violation (although it can be two if you were going more than 100 mph). Failing to yield to a pedestrian is a one-point offense. An unsafe vehicle can also be a one-point violation if it affects operational safety. Therefore, unsafe brakes could be a one-point offense. Driving under the influence and a hit and run are two-point offenses. A major conviction while you are behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle could result in a three-point assessment.

In certain circumstances, you have a constitutional right to remain silent and to refrain from saying anything (because anything you do say can and will be used against you in a court of law). Not enough people exercise that right to remain silent. They speak too freely and say too much, and their openness eventually comes back to haunt them. That was the situation for one man seeking to get his driving privileges back. He lost his case, in no small part, because of the statements he made to a police officer at the scene of an accident. Always know your rights and use them, including retaining skilled California DMV attorney to help you reverse your license suspension.

The man in the case, M.C., was involved in a traffic accident in Bakersfield. M.C. had been drinking prior to the crash. A Bakersfield officer approached M.C. and started asking him some questions.

If you are a driver who is in a situation like M.C.’s, there are several things that you know for sure. You know you’ve been in an accident. You know that the person in uniform who is asking you questions is a law enforcement officer whose job includes, among other things, investigating the scene of the accident for possible criminal activity. Additionally, you know that you have consumed some quantity of alcohol, thereby raising at least some degree of possibility that the police will investigate you for, and possible charge you with, driving under the influence.

Whether you are facing a potential suspension of your driver’s license or have already had your license suspended, you may have options available to you to get your driving privileges back. The keys to success are to make sure you take all of the proper steps and do them within the appropriate timeframe. To ensure that you are availing yourself to all the avenues out there for you, retain the services of a knowledgeable San Francisco DMV attorney.

While it primarily focused upon the legal action pursued by a motorcyclist injured in an accident with an elderly driver, a recent case originating in Sonoma County also offers a real-life illustration of the license suspension and reinstatement process.

The plaintiff was Alan, whose motorcycle was struck by Elsie in 2013. Elsie was 89 when she was issued a driver’s license in 2009. In March 2011, Elsie had an accident in which she hit a parked car several times. Based upon that incident, the local police recommended that Elsie undergo regular reexamination by the DMV. In Elsie’s case, that meant that she was required to take a written test, a road test and have her vision screened. She passed the written test and doctors concluded that, other than some macular degeneration that affected her night driving, she could see well enough to drive.

Each case can present its own unique elements. Part of what can go into achieving a successful result is spotting those unique elements and using them to your advantage. Perhaps the police officer who encountered you did not do a proper job giving you a required admonition. Perhaps the officer did not even give you the admonition at all. All of these things can potentially be used to your benefit. An experienced San Francisco DMV attorney can advise and represent you in using your case’s facts to get your driving privileges back.

A case from Santa Clara County offers an example of how this can work. Police responded to a midnight single-vehicle accident. Once there, they found a badly damaged Porsche SUV and a driver exiting the vehicle who appeared to be “extremely unsteady on his feet.” The driver allegedly smelled like alcohol, had slurred speech, and seemed disoriented. The officer attempted to conduct a field sobriety test that involved asking the driver to follow the tip of his pen with his eyes, but the driver simply closed his eyes.

There are many good reasons to, as a driver whom the police potentially suspect of driving under the influence, refuse to participate in a field sobriety test. One of these reasons is that officers do not always perform the tests properly. An improperly conducted test can yield incorrectly skewed results. Once you participate, the officer can testify in court about his or her impression of your performance on the test.