What is a Notice of Proposed Decision on a Special Certificate or Endorsement?
Any person who drives a motor vehicle in the State of California must possess a valid Driver License which authorizes them to operate a specific class of vehicle. For example, an everyday driver who operates a mini-van must possess a Class “C” driver license. Any person wishing to ride a motorcycle on a public roadway must possess a valid “M1” driver license. Finally commercial drivers must possess either a Class “A” or Class “B” driver license.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles also recognizes that certain drivers must hold special qualifications to operate specializes vehicles. Examples are school buses, ambulances and tow trucks. In addition to particular “classes” of driver license, these drivers must also possess the California Special Certificate in order to operate their specialized vehicles. These particular drivers are held to the highest standards in terms of their personal and professional conduct.
In the event the DMV suspects the holder of a Special Certificate no longer possesses the highest level of trust, integrity and performance; the department will act to suspend or revoke the Special Certificate which terminates the driver’s privilege to operate specialized vehicles. Obviously the loss of a Special Certificate will adversely impact the person’s ability to make a living and can be quite devastating.
Anytime the DMV works to suspend or revoke a Special Certificate, the accused driver is permitted to present evidence and information at an Administrative Hearing in an attempt to reverse the intended suspension or revocation of the Certificate. A driver who conducts such an Administrative Hearing will encounter a “two-stage” process before a final decision is reached:
In those cases involving the Special Certificate of a School Bus Driver, the assigned hearing officer will conclude the Special Certificate Hearing by preparing a “Proposed Decision” that is forwarded to the Certificate Action Review Board. Upon receipt of the Proposed Decision, the Certificate Action Review Board will delay a review of the case and mail a copy of the Proposed Decision to the affected driver, allowing that person an opportunity to prepare a response or to file additional information for the board’s consideration.
It is important to note that the Notice of Proposed Decision is only provided in cases involving the Special Certificate for School Bus Drivers. The Notice of Proposed Decision IS NOT classically provided in cases involving a Special Certificate for Ambulance or Tow Truck drivers.
Why does the DMV send a Notice of Proposed Decision to a driver following a Special Certificate Hearing?
The California Vehicle Code specifically mandates that the DMV notify an accused driver of the findings made by a Hearing Officer at the conclusion of any Administrative Hearing. All decisions made by the hearing officer must be conveyed to the accused driver in writing. Ambulance and Tow Truck drivers are an exception.
California Vehicle Code Section 14105(a) determines…… “Upon the conclusion of a hearing, the hearing officer or hearing board shall make findings and render a decision on behalf of the department and shall notify the person involved. Notice of the decision shall include a statement of the person’s right to a review. The decision shall not take effect as stated in the notice, but not less than four nor more than 15 days after the notice is mailed.”
The Notice is crystal clear and provides information that the assigned Hearing Officer has reached a conclusion in the hearing and has recommended an action to either sustain or set aside the suspension/revocation of the Special Certificate. This Notice specifically offers the affected driver an opportunity to file a response or additional information with the Certificate Action Review Board (CARB) within a specified period of time.
It has been the policy of the Department of Motor Vehicles to allow the affected driver a period of 24 days to either file additional information with the CARB or waive the right.
Once the affected driver either files additional information with the board, or waives the right to do so, the CARB will convene a review of the case at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The CARB meets once every 30 days. At the conclusion of the review, the CARB will issue a decision that is considered final.
What does a Notice of Proposed Decision mean for me?
If you have received a Notice of Proposed Decision this means that the Hearing Officer who convened your Special Certificate Hearing has concluded an analysis of the evidence and testimony, and has concluded that the suspension/revocation of your special certificate is justified, or that it is not. The Hearing Officer has prepared the Notice, to Certificate Action Review Board to document his/her decision and the reasons in support.
Upon receipt of the Notice of Proposed Decision, the affected driver must decide whether or not to respond, in writing, to either provide clarifying or additional information. It is important to pay attention the time elements involved as a driver normally only has 24 days to respond.