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:
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:
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:
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:
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.