Once the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) learns that a licensed driver may have suffered a Lapse of Consciousness or Control, it will initiate an immediate action to either investigate the event or move directly to peremptorily suspend the person’s privilege to drive.
During the Re-Examination process, the driver will be interviewed regarding the event and may be asked to provide medical evidence of their condition. The Re-Examination process may also include a written test, vision test and driving test.
If the DMV concludes there is no cause for concern, the action will end and the driver will retain his privilege to drive. However, if the DMV concludes that a Lapse of Consciousness did occur or that the driver has any condition that may affect safe driving, the driving privilege will be suspended.
Once the affected driver receives the Order of Suspension/Revocation in the mail, he or she must decide if they wish to contest the action in order to regain their driving privilege. If the answer is yes, the driver or his representative must make a formal request for an Administrative Hearing.
Depending on whether the Order of Suspension/Revocation was received in-person or by US mail, the driver will only have 10 to 14 days to request the hearing, or the right is forfeit. The driver or his representative must contact the Driver Safety Office located nearest to his home to request a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing. It is important to note that it has been the policy of the DMV to not grant a Stay of Suspension in a Lapse of Consciousness case. This essentially means the driver will not be permitted to drive until the hearing has concluded and a decision has been rendered by the hearing officer.
If the affected driver has made a timely request for a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing, the DMV must schedule the hearing. The department must also provide the driver with copies of any evidence in its possession, or any witnesses it intends to call at the hearing.
Once the DMV has scheduled a hearing, it essentially steps back and permits the driver to prepare his or her case. There is little or no guidance from the department on how to proceed. Preparing for a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing requires a commanding knowledge of one’s own physical or mental conditions as well as a working knowledge of the California Vehicle Code, the Health & Safety Code, the Administrative Procedures Act and the Evidence Code. Very few drivers possess the training or experience to properly prepare and conduct such a hearing. Fortunately California Law does permit drivers to be represented by DMV Defense Experts known as Administrative Advocates. Being represented by an Administrative Advocate greatly increases one’s chances of reinstating their driving privilege.
The affected driver must be prepared to introduce a wide range of evidence to establish stability of any and all medical disorders that may affect driving. Properly preparing for a Lapse of Consciousness Hearing requires one to anticipate every conceivable question a DMV Hearing Officer may have. It is critical to introduce enough reliable and relevant evidence to convince the DMV of your ability to drive. At the hearing, the affected driver will testify and must be prepared to be cross examined by the DMV hearing officer. Here again, thorough preparation is the key to success. As part of the hearing process, the DMV may require the driver to take a written test, vision test or behind the wheel test.
Once the hearing process has concluded, the hearing officer must review all evidence and testimony and then render a decision as to the person’s privilege to drive. The hearing officer may take any of the following actions: