Empowering California Drivers

To Maintain Their Driving Privilege

Order of Suspension/Revocation

What is an Order of Suspension/Revocation from the California DMV?

Without question, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is one of the most powerful government agencies in the State of California.  This agency has the ability to adversely affect a person’s freedom of movement and ability to earn a living with little or no warning by suspending or revoking that person’s privilege to drive motor vehicles.

If you have received an Order of Suspension/Revocation from the California DMV, the department has just alerted you they have begun the process to take you off the road.  Let’s be perfectly clear here—the Order of Suspension is not a warning that the MAY take an action against you.  The Order of Suspension/Revocation means the process has already begun and your license will be suspended or revoked.

The Order of Suspension/Revocation 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 suspension/revocation.  Make no mistake; an Order of Suspension/Revocation means the DMV has found cause to take you off the road and  YOU MUST STOP DRIVING on the effective date listed on the order.

Why does the DMV send an Order of Suspension/Revocation to a Driver?

When any person holds a driver license in the State of California they are forever under the watchful eye of the California DMV.  The DMV monitors all drivers to ensure they maintain the knowledge, the skill and the physical/mental ability to safely drive.  If the department receives information, from any source, that a driver may not possess the fitness to drive; it will either initiate an investigation [also known as a re-examination] or it will move to direct suspension of the driver license.

Here is a list of reasons the DMV will move directly to Suspend or Revoke a person’s driver license without the benefit of a re-examination:

  • If the DMV receives a report from any physician that a driver suffers from a physical, medical, or mental disorder that directly impacts a person’s ability to drive.
  • If the DMV receives a referral from a law enforcement officer who suggests that a person’s Lack of Skill or Knowledge is so questionable that the public safety is in immediate jeopardy.
  • If a person fails to participate in or complete a re-examination.
  • If, at the conclusion of a re-examination, a DMV Hearing Officer concludes that a license suspension is warranted.
  • If the DMV suspects the person of being involved in Fraudulent Activity involving a driver license.
  • If the DMV has identified the person as a Negligent Operator for accumulating too many violation points, or has been involved in act of road rage.
  • If the DMV has identified the person as a Negligent Operator because he or she caused or contributed to a serious injury or fatality traffic accident.
  • If the person has been arrested for suspicion of DUI.
  • If the person has been detained or arrested for a violation of California’s “Zero Tolerance” laws.
  • If the person has been involved in a reportable traffic accident while driving a vehicle that is not covered by Financial Responsibility.

What happens now that an Order of Suspension/Revocation has been issued?

You’ve just opened an envelope addressed from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to find an “Order of Suspension/Revocation.”  After the initial shock has worn off, it is time to make a plan for reacting to the order.

The four most critical pieces of information provided by the Order of Suspension/Revocation are:

  • The effective date of the suspension. This is the date you must terminate driving.
  • The reason the action is being taken.
  • The Vehicle Code authority for the action.
  • The individual Driver Safety Office handling your matter.

In all but a few instances, a person who has received an Order of Suspension/Revocation 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 suspension until the hearing can be concluded, but in many cases a Stay is not possible and you must terminate driving as of the effective date of the Order of Suspension/Revocation.

Driving after your privilege has been suspended is unlawful and may result in your arrest and prosecution in the Superior Court.  Driving on a suspended license 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 Suspension/Revocation of my Driver License?

 Now that you have received an Order of Suspension/Revocation in the mail, there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Study the order carefully to determine why this action is being taken.
  • Make the decision that you are going to take on the DMV by yourself, or are you going to hire an Administrative Advocate to guide you and represent you through the process.
  • Contact the appropriate Driver Safety Office to schedule the correct type of hearing for your matter and to request a Stay of Suspension, if appropriate.
  • Make a formal “Request for Discovery” to the Driver Safety Office forcing them to provide you copies of all evidence they are using to justify the suspension.
  • Make a plan to collect relevant evidence or identify potential witnesses who may be valuable in rebutting the DMV’s case.
  • Plan your defense and prepare a notice to the DMV to introduce any evidence you into to use at your hearing.
  • Conduct your hearing.

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 and the Vehicle Code 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 an accused 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.

Talk to a DMV Defense Expert