Empowering California Drivers

To Maintain Their Driving Privilege

Notification of Findings a Decision – Negligent Operator – Point Count


What is a Notice of Findings and Decision following a Negligent Operator Hearing?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the government agency tasked with issuing the California Driver License to qualified drivers.  Once the driver license has been issued, however, the driver then comes under the watchful eye of the DMV who is then tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that all drivers maintain the skill, knowledge and ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on our public roadways.

One of the most common means by which the DMV assesses a person’s driving habits is by monitoring that driver’s accumulation of violation points associated with moving violations or traffic accidents.  If a driver accumulates too many points in a specified period of time, the DMV will label that person as a “Negligent Operator” and will initiate the process to suspend the driver license to punish the driver for their poor driving habits.

If the accused driver elects to defend themselves at a Negligent Operator Hearing, the department must consider all evidence and testimony presented at the hearing.  Once the hearing is concluded, the assigned hearing officer must make a decision regarding the person’s privilege to drive. The hearing officer may:

  • Sustain the suspension and remove the driver from the road.
  • Make a finding that the accused person is a Negligent Operator but that a term of driving probation will be granted.
  • Make a finding that the accused person is NOT a Negligent Operator and Set Aside the suspension, thereby clearing the driver’s name.

The Notice of Findings and Decision is the instrument by which the DMV Hearing Officer notifies the accused driver of which choice has been made.  It is common for the final decision to be published about 15 days after the hearing but can take as long as 30 days.  The Notice is sent to the driver through the US mail; which is another reason to ensure your correct address is on-file with the DMV.

 Why does the DMV send a Notice of Findings and Decision to a driver following a Negligent Operator 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.

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 first line of the Notice cuts right to the chase.  Here is where the hearing officer indicates that a driver has won or lost the hearing. If the Hearing Officer issues an order which places the driver on Driving Probation, that means the department has concluded you are a Negligent Operator but that a full suspension of your driving privilege is not necessary to gain your compliance with safe driving habits.

In the section entitled “Findings of Fact,” the Hearing Officer will address the following elements of the case and identify issues discussed:

  • Points Accumulated—Here the Hearing Officer will identify each violation and its associated date that has accumulated on the driver’s record.
  • Traffic Accidents—Here the Hearing Officer will identify each traffic accident being considered by the department in making its decision.
  • Amount of Use/Miles Traveled—Here the Hearing Officer will identify the type of work performed by the driver and the number of miles driven each year. This is also an opportunity for the Hearing Officer to add information in aggravation or mitigation.
  • Conclusion—Here the Hearing Officer will explain that the facts do support a finding of Negligent Operation but why Driving Probation is a sufficient penalty.

In the section entitled, “Determination of Issues,” the Hearing Officer will explain that the driver IS a Negligent Operator and why. In the section entitled, “Decision,” the Hearing Officer will order that the suspension is amended and that driving probation is granted.

What does Driving Probation mean for me?

 If you have received a Notification of Findings and Decision which places you on driving probation, this means that your driving privilege WILL NOT be suspended…………….. at least not for now.

For any driver who is placed on Driving Probation following a Negligent Operator Hearing, he or she may drive anywhere and at any time without restriction.  The term of probation is for one-year.  If the driver were to violate any of the terms of Driving Probation, it may result in the imposition of a 6-month hard suspension of the driving privilege followed by an additional year of probation, as well as the requirement to file an SR-22 Insurance Form.

To remain in compliance with their Driving Probation, the driver must avoid:

  • Any moving violation resulting in a point count;
  • Any failure to appear (FTA) in court on a traffic violation;
  • Any moving violation occurring during any period of suspension;
  • Any alcohol or drug related driving incident;
  • Any involvement in an “at fault” traffic accident.
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