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Preparing & Fighting at a Negligent Operator Hearing



How do I learn the DMV is suspending my license for Negligent Operation? When the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) labels a person as a Negligent Operator, it is normally for one of the following reasons:

  • An accumulation of too violation points in a specified period of time;
  • Too many traffic collisions in a specified period of time;
  • Causing or contributing to a serious injury traffic collision;
  • Causing or contributing to a fatal traffic collision;
  • Involvement in an act of highway violence (road rage);
  • A court conviction for certain crimes (hit & run, reckless driving);
  • Any other act the DMV determines to represent negligence in driving.

When the DMV labels a person as a Negligent Operator, the department may:

  • Take no action: This is incredibly rare. In 99% of cases, the department will take some action to ensure the safety of the motoring public.
  • Order the driver into to a Re-Examination: This occurs where the information received by the department is vague or unclear and so the department conducts an investigation to determine if a suspension is warranted.
  • Issue an Order of Suspension or Revocation: In most cases of negligent operation, the DMV will move to immediate suspension of the driving privilege.

Where the DMV elects to issue an Order of Suspension or Revocation, the department will send the order to the affected driver by US mail.  Most drivers are shocked when they open their mail box to find a letter from the DMV telling them the department is withdrawing their privilege to drive because of negligent operation.

I Received an Order of Suspension or Revocation.  What should I do?

First of all be calm.  Although the temporary loss of your driving privilege is upsetting and can be disruptive to your life, you really can be defended.  You really can be returned to full driving privileges but you must react correctly and you must react quickly.

By sending you the Order of Suspension or Revocation, the California DMV has just notified you that you are being removed from the road, because they suspect your driving behavior represents a danger to the motoring public.  The department is not telling you they are investigating the matter or that they MAY take an action; they are not firing a warning shot.  The fact is, the suspension action has already begun and they are offering you an opportunity to show them why it is not warranted.

If you read the Oder of Suspension/Revocation carefully, it will tell you what authority the DMV is using to suspend your driving privilege. It will also, however, tell you that if you wish to challenge the Suspension/Revocation of your license, contact must be made with the department within 14 days; and that is 14 CALENDAR days, not business days.

So your first proactive step should always be to telephone the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates.  With years of experience and training in defeating all forms of Negligent Operator suspensions, we have a tried and true system of professionally and methodically representing clients through the entire process.

The setting of your hearing is just the very first step in a marathon of important steps.  Setting a Negligent Operator Hearing is much more than making a telephone call and setting up a date.  Some of the issues to be considered when setting a hearing are:

  • The proper venue for the hearing
  • The individual hearing officer assigned to the case
  • The timing of the hearing as it relates to the collection of evidence
  • The proper request for production of the DMV’s evidence
  • Assessment of the case to determine if a Request to Stay the Suspension is appropriate. In many cases, we can get the DMV to stop the suspension of your license until the outcome of the hearing.

Once the Driver Safety Office has been contacted and once a hearing date has been established, the real work begins.

How Do I win a DMV a Negligent Operator Hearing?

Properly conducted, a Negligent Operator Hearing looks very much like a mini-trial.  Evidence is introduced and authenticated, witnesses may testify, legal arguments are waged and the driver will testify.  The manner in which evidence is presented is vital and the managing of your case is a key to success.  At California Drivers Advocates, we have created a four-step approach to handling administrative hearings that causes us to win many more cases than we lose, especially in the area of Lapse of Consciousness.

  • Investigation: This includes a comprehensive interview of the Client to learn everything about them.  Personal history, medical history, driving history and criminal history.  It is imperative that we be able to put a personal face on each case so the Client is not treated like a number.  We also conduct a complete investigation of the allegation made against the driver and the validity of the DMV’s evidence.
  • Preparation: We completely understand that it is standard DMV practice to use a Negligent Operator suspension as a launch-point to investigate every aspect of a person’s life to determine their fitness to drive.  Because we know this and can anticipate the DMV’s tactics, we prepare what we call a “Broad Spectrum” defense that is designed to address each of the DMV’s concerns before they even come up.  The collection of relevant medical evidence, investigation of the actual evidence supporting the allegation, the preparation of witnesses and our Client, are all critical steps to be taken.
  • Presentation: It is imperative that our evidence be admitted by the hearing officer. Therefore, the manner in which we present our evidence must be in accordance with the Evidence Code and the California Code of Regulations.  Evidence has no value if it is not accepted by the hearing officer.  The way we argue against the admittance of the DMV’s evidence is also important to weaken the DMV’s case.  The preparation of our Client for testimony is one of the most important steps we take so our Client can testify with accuracy and credibility.
  • Follow-Thru: Once a hearing ends, our obligation to you does not.  Follow-up contact with the Hearing Officer, the scheduling of testing dates (if necessary) and the review of any Findings and Decision are all steps we take once the hearing ends.

The nature of the allegation against you will dictate the course we follow, but make no mistake; preparation is vital. There is simply to substitute for quality representation in matters of this nature.  The DMV administrative law process is confusing and the DMV will do very little, if anything, to assist a driver in protecting themselves.  Seeking representation from a DMV Defense expert from California Drivers Advocates is the best way to ensure your rights are protected.

What are the potential outcomes of a Negligent Operator Hearing?

When a Negligent Operator Hearing ends, the hearing officer must consider and weigh all of the documentary evidence and the testimonial evidence to determine if a driver should be returned to the road.  The hearing officer will consider many factors when coming to a final decision:

  • The actual effect of any physical or mental condition as it relates to the safe operation of a motor vehicle.
  • The actual evidence that either aggravates or mitigates the allegation that the driver was negligent.
  • The likelihood that the driver will not modify their driving behavior and thus remain dangerous on the road.
  • The person’s driving record.
  • Other factors that may demonstrate a person’s ability to safely drive.

What is the purpose of the Negligent Operator Treatment System

Once a hearing officer has weighed and considered all of the evidence in aggravation and mitigation, a decision must be rendered.  The potential outcomes of a Negligent Operator Hearing are:

  • Set Aside: In the world of DMV administrative hearings, the “Set Aside” is a home run.  This means the hearing officer has not only returned you full driving privileges but has also decided there was no good reason to suspend or revoke the driver license in the first place. This is important as it means no term of suspension appears on the driving record and as a result, there are no negative insurance consequences. This is the best result available.
  • End Action: This means the hearing officer has concluded that sufficient evidence exists to establish the suspension was warranted, but driver has also demonstrated that he is safe to return to driving. This result fully reinstates the driving privilege; however the suspension appears on the driving record and may affect insurance rates or employment opportunities.
  • Driving Probation: This means the hearing officer has concluded that sufficient evidence exists to justify the original suspension and although the person may be safe to return to driving, a period of supervision is required to ensure they do not fall back into unsafe driving behavior.
  • Suspension: This means the hearing officer has concluded that sufficient evidence exists that the driver is a Negligent Operator of a motor vehicle and should be penalized by losing their driving privilege for a specified period of time.  Once the term of  suspension has been served, the driver may have their driving privilege reinstated.
  • Revocation: This is the worst of all scenarios.  This means hearing officer has concluded there is sufficient evidence the driver is a Negligent Operator of a motor vehicle and a continuing menace to society. A revocation means the person’s driving privilege is withdrawn for an indeterminate period of time.  This means “forever” or until the department is motivated and agrees to grant the driver yet another hearing.  In cases such a serious injury accidents, fatal accidents and road rage, it has been standard DMV policy to not re-open a case for a least one year.

Call CDA today.  Your driving privilege is much too important to lose.

 As much as we all love living in California, the reality of our state is that public transportation is lacking and ride sharing programs, like Uber and Lyft can be quite costly.  The loss of one’s driving privilege cannot only strip them of their independence and freedom, but may also impact their employment.

If the DMV has labeled you as a Negligent Operator and is in the process of attacking your privilege to drive, call the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates.  We have been fighting and winning Negligent Operator Hearings in every Driver Safety Office from Redding to San Diego for many years.  We can investigate, prepare and present your defense in a professional and caring manner.




Quality DMV Defense isn’t something we preach, it’s what we practice. Our team is highly trained and experienced in every facet of our industry. This means that you’re in the best possible hands and protected by a team of professionals who care.


When it comes to protecting your driving privilege, results are everything. We’ve conducted scores of DMV Administrative Hearings and our results are among the best in the State. Our goal is to win and that means you keep driving.

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Quality DMV Defense isn’t something you plan on needing. If you need quality representation but funds aren’t available you shouldn’t compromise on your future. We offer a variety of payment plans to fit your needs, including Retainer Fund.