Empowering California Drivers

To Maintain Their Driving Privilege

Mental Re-Examination

What is a Re-Examination at the California DMV?

At some point, all California drivers go through a vetting process to qualify for the issuance of driver license.  This “examination” process is designed to verify the identity of the applicant as well as to determine the person possesses both the knowledge and the skill to drive.

Once a driver license is issued, however, the affected driver remains under the watchful eye of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  For the remainder of their driving life, the driver must maintain the knowledge, the skill and the physical/mental fitness to drive.  If the DMV ever learns that a person may have lost knowledge, skill or fitness to drive, the department will demand that the affected driver return to the DMV to be re-evaluated.

Known as a “Re-Examination,” this process permits the DMV to scrutinize the driver to determine whether or not they are still able to safely operate a motor vehicle on public roadways.  The Re-Examination process can include any number of the following steps:

  • Written Test: This is normally an 18-question, multiple-choice, examination that tests the driver’s knowledge of basic traffic laws and the recognition of roadway signs.
  • Vision Test: This test is the normal eye exam measured by either a wall chart or electronic vision hood.
  • Interview: At a very minimum, all drivers can expect to be interviewed by a DMV hearing officer who will determine if there is any reason for concern. Very often hearing officers can seem aggressive and rude so all drivers should be prepared to be thoroughly questioned about a variety of topics related to driving.
  • Medical Reports: The assigned DMV hearing officer may require that an affected driver file medical reports that are prepared and signed by their  physician which medically clears them for driving.
  • Driving Test: Known as a Supplemental Driver Performance Evaluation, this is   a practical examination where the driver must drive with a DMV examiner in the car who evaluates their performance.

The California State Legislature has specifically empowered the DMV to conduct investigations nearly “at will” to ensure the fitness of any person to drive. If a person refuses to participate in a Re-Examination ordered by the department, the driver license shall be suspended until that person completes the process.

California Vehicle Code Section 13800 determines….. “The department may conduct an investigation to determine whether the privilege of any person to operate a motor vehicle should be suspended or revoked or whether terms or conditions of probation should be imposed upon receiving information or upon a showing of its records.”

California Vehicle Code Section 13801 determines….. “In addition to the investigation, the department may require the re-examination of the licensee, and shall give 10 days’ written notice of the time and place thereof.  If the licensee refuses or fails to submit to the re-examination, the department may peremptorily suspend the driving privilege of the person until such time as the licensee shall have submitted to re-examination.”

Representation at a DMV Re-Examination:

Because the DMV’s Re-Examination is an investigation taken prior to a license suspension or revocation, the driver is not entitled to be represented at a Re-Examination Interview.  Because the Vehicle Code specifically does authorize a driver to have witnesses present, it may be in a person’s best interest to have a DMV Defense Expert present as a “witness.”  Although the expert cannot “represent” the driver, their mere presence is often a mechanism to cause hearing officers to behave themselves and be less aggressive.

What Mental Health Disorders will cause a DMV Re-Examination?

Driving a motor vehicle in California requires that a person possess the knowledge, skill and physical/mental fitness to drive.  Driving requires focus and concentration because to safely operate a motor vehicle requires a great deal of “multi-tasking.”

The DMV will be deeply concerned about any driver who develops a mental health disorder as these conditions, or the treatment of the condition can diminish the ability of the effected driver to perceive and properly respond to the ever changing environment when driving. Some of the most common mental health issues that cause the DMV to suspend a driver license are:

  • Bi-Polar Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post Traumatic Stress
  • Chemical Dependence

What happens when a Re-Examination Ends?

At the end of a DMV Re-Examination, the assigned Hearing Officer will either end the action and leave the driver license intact; or the Hearing Officer will find there is good cause to suspend the driver license.

If the Re-Examination ends with a license suspension, the affected driver is then entitled to an Administrative Hearing to defend themselves and to reverse the suspension.  A hearing is different than an interview in that it is run like a mini trial.  At a hearing you are entitled to be represented by a DMV Defense Expert, known as an Administrative Advocate.

If you would like representation by a DMV Defense Expert, DMV Administrative Advocates can assist you in preparing your defense and provides a greater likelihood of victory.  You can learn more and study a complete overview of the physical and mental hearing procedure.

Talk to a DMV Defense Expert