Empowering California Drivers

To Maintain Their Driving Privilege

Fraudulent Activity DMV Hearings

What does the DMV Consider to be Fraudulent Activity?

One of the most critical functions performed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the issuance of the California Driver License.  When the DMV issues or renews a driver license, the department is verifying that the holder of the document is qualified to operate a particular class of motor vehicle and that the holder’s true identity has been verified.

If the DMV learns that an applicant or the holder of a California Driver License has either illegally or inappropriately obtained a driver license; of if that person is found to have used the driver license for any illegitimate purpose, the DMV will identify that action as Fraudulent Activity and will move quickly to refuse, suspend or revoke the driver license.

Generally speaking, Fraudulent Activity falls into two categories:

  • A person obtaining a driver license by any illegitimate means.
  • A person who uses a driver license in a manner not intended by the Vehicle Code.

Common examples of a person who obtains a driver license by illegitimate means are:

  • Cheating while taking a written test for a driver license.
  • Written tests taken by another person for the benefit of the applicant.
  • Driving tests taken by another person for the benefit of the applicant.
  • Filing a false or misleading application for driver license.
  • Application filed by a person other than the true applicant.
  • Use of a false Date of Birth or other false identifying documents in the application process.
  • Use of false documents to establish that the applicant legitimately resides in California.

Common examples of a person who fraudulent uses an existing driver license are:

  • Permitting another person to use your driver license.
  • Using a driver license issued to another person.
  • Obtaining a driver license issued to another person.
  • Altering any information on a driver license.

How Do Drivers Learn the DMV is Suspending Their License for Fraudulent Activity?

  • DMV Employee: One of the most common forms of Fraudulent Activity occurs when an applicant enters a DMV field office to either apply for or to renew a driver license without being properly prepared.  Often people will get caught in situations where a DMV employee suspects the applicant of cheating on a written or a driving test.  If this occurs, the testing will be terminated, the applicant will be ejected from the DMV Field Office and will be told to expect contact from the Driver Safety Office in 4-6 weeks.
  • DMV Investigation: The California Department of Motor Vehicles is considered a Law Enforcement Agency.  As such, the DMV employs sworn peace officers as investigators of the Department.  Depending upon the allegation against the driver, they may learn of DMV scrutiny when contacted by a DMV Investigator.
  • Law Enforcement Officers: In some instances, a person may find themselves as the focus of an investigation by local, state or federal law enforcement agencies who may refer the driver’s case to the DMV.
  • United States Mail:  Without question, the most common means by which a person learns they are the focus of the DMV for Fraudulent Activity occurs when they open an envelope that was delivered by US Mail.  If the DMV suspects a person of Fraudulent Activity, the department will normally move directly to suspension or revocation of the driver license and will notify the driver by mail.

Why is the DMV Taking This Action Against Me?

The stated mission of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is to ensure the safety of the motoring public.  Because the operation of a motor vehicle is a potentially dangerous event, the DMV will seek to ensure that only qualified people are permitted to drive.  If it is discovered that a person attempts to circumvent the process of qualifying for a driver license, the DMV will immediately identify that as a public safety issue and will remove that party from the road.

Similarly, the DMV is tasked with ensuring that a driver license is only issued to a true resident of the State of California and that their true identity is known.  Banking institutions, public agencies and hospitals all rely upon the California Driver License to be accurate when offering services and benefits to people.  If a person fraudulently uses a driver license to obtain benefits to which they are not entitled, public trust is the victim.

California Vehicle Code Section 13800…. Grants the DMV the nearly unbridled power to conduct an investigation to determine if an act of fraud has occurred.

California Vehicle Code Section 13801…. Grants the DMV the absolute power to refuse, suspend or revoke the driver license of any person who refuses to cooperate with an investigation.

California Vehicle Code Sections  12809 (c), 12809 (d), and 13359…Grant the DMV the specific power to refuse, suspend or revoke a driver license for an act of fraud committed when applying for a driver license.

What are the Options to Protecting My Privilege to Drive?

If the DMV initiates an action to refuse, suspend or revoke a person’s driver license for committing an act of Fraudulent Activity, the law requires that person be given an opportunity to defend themselves.  The driver is permitted to schedule and conduct an administrative hearing before the Driver Safety Office near their home to examine all of the DMV’s evidence and to cross-examine any witnesses.  Essentially the person must be permitted the opportunity to fight for their privilege and to clear their name.

Known as a Fraudulent Hearing, this administrative hearing is overseen by a DMV employee known as Hearing Officer.  In the world of the DMV, the Hearing Officer is equivalent to a Superior Court Judge; just without the education or experience. This person sits in judgement of the driver and is the “last word” in the matter unless the driver files a higher appeal.

Every driver has the right to receive and to examine all of the DMV’s evidence which establishes the case.  That driver also has a right to present their own evidence or witnesses to rebut or explain how the incident occurred.   Because a suspension or revocation of a driver license for Fraudulent Activity will be for an indeterminate period of time; and because the suspension/revocation will appear on the driving record for years, all accused drivers should act aggressively to defend themselves.

Fraudulent Activity Hearing Summary

 If conducted correctly, a Fraudulent Activity Hearing is a full-blown evidentiary hearing that operates very much like a mini trial.  Evidence is introduced and objections are made about the admissibility of evidence.  Witnesses and experts may testify and legal arguments are heard.  To have any hope of winning such a hearing requires a person to have a working knowledge of the California Vehicle Code, the California Evidence Code, the California Code of Civil Procedures, the Administrative Procedures Act and basic DMV policy.  Because few drivers in California possess this level of training and experience, and because the DMV will not assist a person in preparing for their hearing, this can be a frustrating and overwhelming experience.

All California drivers have the legal right to represent themselves at DMV administrative hearings but, they are also permitted to be represented by specially trained DMV Defense Experts known as Administrative Advocates.  Administrative Advocates work daily with the DMV and handle a variety of administrative hearings including the Fraudulent Activity Hearing.  A highly trained and experienced Administrative Advocate will have insight into the inner workings of the DMV and will have established relationships with DMV staff that can truly benefit the affected driver. Knowing how to schedule a hearing, prepare evidence and then conduct a hearing can help to ensure the best possible result at such a hearing.

The law makes it perfectly clear that a driver is permitted to represent themselves so they need not go to any expense in hiring a representative. You are permitted to request your own hearing and to act as your own representative. If you would prefer to be represented however, DMV Administrative Advocates can assist you in fighting to protect your driving privilege.  You can also learn more and study a complete overview of the Fraudulent Activity Hearing process.

Talk to a DMV Defense Expert