Empowering California Drivers

To Maintain Their Driving Privilege

Order of Restriction

order of restriction - commercial driver

 

What is an Order of Restriction issued to a Commercial Driver?

 There is no question that Commercial Drivers are among the most qualified drivers in the State of California. Those persons who hold the Commercial Driver Licenses in either Class “A” or Class “B” are entrusted to operate specialized motor vehicles ranging from Semi Trucks to School Buses.  Because so much trust is placed in these drivers, they are understandably held to higher standards of knowledge, performance and qualification.

If, for any reason, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, (DMV) concludes that a Commercial Driver no longer possesses the skill, knowledge or ability to safely operate a particular type or class of Commercial Vehicle, the department may place a restriction on specific aspects of that person’s driving privilege.

If the DMV has decided to take an enforcement action against a Commercial Driver by restricting their privilege, the department will issue an “Order of Restriction” advising the driver that an action has been taken.

Why Does the DMV issue an Order of Restriction to a Commercial Driver?

 In most instances the Order of Restriction is issued to a Commercial Driver who no longer meets the minimum physical or mental requirements to operate a Commercial Vehicle.   For example, if a Commercial Driver were to be diagnosed with diabetes that requires the use of insulin, this would disqualify that person from operating Commercial Vehicles.  Even though that driver may have begun their career free of diabetes, if they were to develop that condition, and if it requires the use of insulin, the DMV would determine that driver is no longer qualified to hold a Commercial Driver License.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed a list of physical, medical and mental disorders that disqualify a person from driving Commercial Vehicles.  If the DMV were to learn that any driver has been diagnosed with any condition listed in the Federal Regulations, the driver is “Per Se” deemed to be disqualified.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 CFR 391.41 identifies the “Physical Qualifications for Drivers.”  Some of the Physical or Mental conditions that would automatically disqualify a driver from operating a Commercial Vehicle are:

  • If the driver has failed to comply with the requirement for a regular medical examination;
  • If the driver has any loss of a foot, a hand or an arm, unless they have been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate;
  • If the driver has an impairment of the hand or finger that interferes with power grasping;
  • If the driver has any impairment to an arm, foot or leg that interferes with performing the normal tasks of operating a Commercial Vehicle, unless they have been granted a skill performance evaluation certificate;
  • If the driver has an established medical history or diagnosis of diabetes mellitus requiring the use of insulin;
  • If the driver has an established medical history or diagnosis with any heart, cardiac or cardiovascular disease or disorder that is known to be accompanied by syncope, dyspnea, collapse or cardiac failure;
  • If the driver has an established history or diagnosis with any respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere with the ability to safely operate Commercial Vehicle;
  • If the driver has a clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure likely to interfere with the safe operation of a Commercial Vehicle;
  • If the driver has an established history of diagnosis with rheumatic, arthritic, orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular or vascular disease likely to interfere with the safe operation of a Commercial Vehicle;
  • If the driver has an established history or diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition likely to cause a lapse of consciousness or control;
  • If the driver has mental, nervous, organic or functional disease or psychiatric disorder likely to interfere with the safe operation of a Commercial Vehicle;
  • If the driver has any vision problems making his visual acuity less than the minimums allowed for the safe operation of a Commercial Vehicle;
  • If the driver has any limitation of hearing greater than that allowed for the safe operation of a Commercial Vehicle;
  • If the driver uses any drug or substance prohibited by CFR 1308.11 (amphetamine, narcotic or other habit forming drug);
  • If the driver uses any drug or substance prohibited by Schedule 21 CFR party 1308 except when prescribed by a medical practitioner who is familiar with the person’s medical history;
  • If the driver has been clinically diagnosed with alcoholism.

How did the DMV find out I have a disqualifying Physical or Mental Disorder?

Normally, the DMV will learn that a driver is physically or mentally disqualified from operating a Commercial Vehicle when:

  • The DMV receives medical evidence from a physician,
  • The DMV receives disqualifying information from a Law Enforcement Officer
  • The DMV questions a driver during an administrative hearing on an unrelated matter,
  • The driver reveals a physical or mental disorder when applying for or renewing a Commercial License.

What happens now that the DMV has restricted my Commercial License?

 If you have received an Order of Restriction from the California DMV, the department has just alerted you they have begun the process to severely curtail your privilege to operate a Commercial Vehicle.  Let’s be perfectly clear here—the Order of Restriction is not a warning that the department MAY take an action against you.  The Order of Restriction means the process has already begun and your license will be Restricted.  The Restriction can:

  • Downgrade the driver to a Class “C” driver license,
  • Restrict a Class “A” or Class “B” driver from transporting passengers,
  • Restrict a Class “A” driver from transporting hazardous material.

The Order of Restriction will document the reason for the action, the Vehicle Code Section that permits the DMV to take the action and the effective date of the Restriction.  Make no mistake; an Order of Restriction means the DMV has already found cause to modify your driving privilege and YOU MUST adjust your driving on the effective date listed on the order.

In all but a few instances, a Commercial Driver who has received an Order of Restriction is entitled to an Administrative Hearing to reverse the order.  To schedule an administrative hearing, the accused driver must contact the appropriate Driver Safety Office that has jurisdiction over the matter.  Contact must be made within 14 days (10 days if the order was handed to you by a DMV employee), to schedule the hearing.  In some instances the department may be willing to “Stay” (which means to stop) the Restriction until the hearing can be concluded, but in most cases a Stay is not possible and you must modify your driving as of the effective date of the Order of Restriction.

Driving in violation of a Commercial Driving Restriction is unlawful and may result in your arrest and prosecution in the Superior Court.  Violating a driving restriction may also result in the impounding of your vehicle and may cause the DMV to make a determination that you are a Negligent Operator.

How can I fight the Restriction of my Commercial Driver License?

Now that you have received an Order of Restriction in the mail, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Study the order carefully to determine why this action is being taken.
  • Make the decision that you are going to fight the DMV by yourself, or to hire an Administrative Advocate to guide you and represent you through the process.
  • Contact the appropriate Driver Safety Office to schedule the correct type of hearing for your matter and to request a Stay of Suspension, if appropriate.
  • Make a formal “Request for Discovery” to the Driver Safety Office forcing them to provide you copies of all evidence they are using to justify the Restriction.
  • Make a plan to collect relevant evidence or identify potential witnesses who may be valuable in rebutting the DMV’s case.
  • Plan your defense and prepare a notice to the DMV of any evidence you intend to use at your hearing.
  • Conduct your hearing.

California law makes it expressly clear that all drivers have the right to advocate for themselves at a DMV administrative hearing, so you need not hire anyone to represent you.  Administrative Hearings at the DMV, however, can be complicated and confusing and the employees of the DMV will do little or nothing to assist you in defending yourself.  Consequently, an accused driver must become familiar with DMV procedure, the Administrative Procedures Act, the California Code of Civil Procedures, the Evidence Code, the Vehicle Code and the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration Regulations in a very short period of time.  This can be quite frustrating but many drivers choose to represent themselves.

On the other hand, California law also permits a Commercial Driver to be represented by an Administrative Advocate.  These professionals are true DMV Defense Experts with years of experience and specialized training in dealing with the DMV.  Although you have the freedom to defend yourself, representation by an Administrative Advocate can greatly increase your likelihood of prevailing at an administrative hearing.  If you would like more information on representation by an Administrative Advocate, can assist you in fighting to protect your driving privilege.

CONTACT INFO

California Drivers Advocates
7900 Limonite Ave., Suite G-308
Jurupa Valley, CA 92509

Phone: 877-961-4-DMV

Phone: 877-961-4368