3/12/20 UPDATE: Due to COVID-19, all DMV hearings will be done over the telephone. People who prefer in-person hearings may request them, but they will be delayed indefinitely.
A DMV reexamination is a proceeding in which the Department reevaluates a person's ability to drive safely. An inquiry takes place because the DMV receives information casting doubt as to the person's driving skills. Common reasons include a physical or mental condition such as seizures or narcolepsy.
The reexamination process generally involves an interview of the driver and an examination of the evidence. It may also involve a live hearing in which the driver can be represented by legal counsel.
Following the proceedings, a hearing officer may order the following:
- suspension of the motorist's driving privileges,
- reinstatement of the person's driving privileges,
- a driver medical evaluation to gain more insight into any physical or mental impairment, or
- that the person can continue driving by way of a restricted permit.
A variety of parties may have contacted the DMV and provided evidence of unsafe driving. Some include:
- a driver's doctor or surgeon who was obligated by law to contact the DMV,
- emergency medical personnel that treated the motorist,
- a DMV employee that observed a suspect condition.
If a hearing results in the suspension or revocation of a person's license, the driver can appeal the DMV's decision.
Our DMV hearing lawyers will discuss the following in this article:
- 1. What is a reexamination hearing?
- 2. How does a person win a hearing?
- 3. What happens during a reexamination hearing?
- 4. Who typically informs the DMV of at-risk drivers?
- 5. What if the DMV takes away a person's driving privileges?
1. What is a reexamination hearing?
The California DMV conducts a reexamination hearing in order to:
- obtain and evaluate information about a driver, and
- determine if the driver is still able to drive safely.1
The DMV calls for the hearing after:
- it receives certain information, and
- that information suggests that the subject driver poses a risk to traffic safety.2
Examples of when a reexamination hearing might take place are when the DMV learns of:
- a physical or mental condition of a motorist,
- a lapse of consciousness while driving,
- the driver causing multiple accidents in a 12-month period,
- traffic law convictions on the person's driving record,
- a driver's reckless driving habits,
- a motorist's negligent driving habits, or
- a person fraudulently using a driver's license.3
2. How does a person win a hearing?
A driver wins a hearing by convincing the DMV that:
- he/she can drive safely, and
- this is true even despite the evidence the Department received.
A person best accomplishes this goal by:
- getting help from an experienced DMV hearing lawyer,
- learning of the reason for the hearing and preparing for any possible questions,
- getting familiar with the hearing process,
- obtaining and then showing the DMV records that support the person's ability to drive,
- getting statements from friends/family that show the same, and
- passing any relevant test (written, vision, or “behind-the-wheel).
Note that at the completion of this hearing, a hearing officer may order:
- the reinstatement of a motorist's driving privileges (if previously removed),
- a medical probation,
- a restricted driving permit or license,
- a license suspension, or
- the revocation of a person's driving privileges.4
In general, a person “wins” a hearing if he/she leaves it and is still allowed to drive.
3. What happens during a reexamination hearing?
A reexamination is usually conducted in a DMV regional office.
The hearing is conducted by a “hearing officer.” This person is a DMV employee and is not:
- a lawyer, or
- a judge.
The hearing often includes two separate phases. These are the:
- interview stage, and
- hearing stage.
The reexamination interview stage is when the hearing officer conducts a taped interview of the subject driver. The officer asks questions concerning why the driver may no longer be able to drive safely. Depending on the answers, the hearing officer may:
- suspend a person's license,
- after the completion of the interview.
If a suspension occurs after an interview, then a hearing is scheduled. The hearing takes place within 14 days of the interview. The hearing is the driver's opportunity to show the DMV that:
- it should reverse the decision it reached at the interview, and
- the driver poses no risk to traffic safety.
A driver may present evidence of his/her safe driving during the hearing. This evidence may include:
- medical records,
- statements from friends and family,
- test results, and
- any relevant videos.
If the driver shows he/she can drive safely, the hearing officer may reverse its initial decision.
4. Who typically informs the DMV of at-risk drivers?
A variety of parties may have contacted the DMV and provided evidence of unsafe driving.
- the driver's doctor or surgeon who was obligated by law to contact the DMV,
- emergency medical personnel that treated the subject motorist,
- a DMV employee that observed a suspect condition,
- the driver's friends or family,
- a police officer, or
- the motorist's driving record may have alerted the DMV about accidents/citations.
5. What if the DMV takes away a person's driving privileges?
If a hearing results in the suspension or revocation of a person's license, the driver can:
- request a DMV hearing, and
- try to challenge the Department's decision.5
Note that DMV administrative hearings are separate from criminal hearings. They differ in three main ways:
- they are held at the DMV while criminal hearings are held in court,
- they are held before a hearing officer instead of a judge, and
- the standards used to consider evidence are less strict than those used in court.6
At the completion of the hearing, the DMV may decide to:
- overturn its decision reached at the reexamination hearing, or
- order that the decision to remain in effect.
For additional help...
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.