A “DMV Order of Set Aside” is a document in which the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notifies a driver that he/she may resume driving following a driver’s license suspension or revocation. It literally means that any suspension has been “set aside.” The order comes after a driver attends a DMV administrative hearing, which may be held for such things as a California DUI or the Department declaring a driver to be a negligent operator.
A set aside order essentially clears the affected driver’s driving record from any period of suspension or revocation. This is critical because a tarnished record can lead to hikes in automobile insurance rates and to lost employment opportunities.
Note that a set-aside order is different from an order of reinstatement. While reinstatement allows a driver to resume driving following a license suspension/revocation, it does not remove this period from the driver’s driving record. The result is that the driver may experience:
- an increase in insurance rates, and
- the potential of lost employment opportunities.
What is an Order of Set Aside?
A California DMV Order of Set Aside is an order of the Department that states a driver may officially resume driving after his/her driver’s license was suspended or revoked (which is different from a driver having a restricted license).
Note that there are many situations in which a State of California DMV office can suspend or revoke a person’s driver’s license. For example, the Department may choose to do so after a driver:
- gets a DUI arrest from law enforcement or a DUI conviction in criminal court,
- is determined to be a negligent operator,
- is found to be suffering from dementia, or
- causes an accident involving a serious injury or death.
No matter the specific reason, the driver in question is allowed to request an administrative hearing to challenge a DMV’s order of suspension or the revocation of driving privileges. This hearing is sometimes referred to as an “administrative per se hearing” in cases of driving under the influence (with a BAC of .08% or higher).
A DMV hearing officer conducts these DMV hearings. He/she is in charge of gathering evidence and ruling on decisions.
According to California Vehicle Code Section 14105a, the hearing officer shall render an official decision following the completion of the hearing. If the decision involves an Order of Set Aside, then the affected driver may return to driving. In some circumstances, the driver may have to renew his/her license and pay a reinstatement fee.
What does “set aside” really mean?
If a hearing officer issues a formal Order of Set Aside, then it means that he/she did not find any factual or legal basis for the original suspension/revocation of the driver’s California driver’s license.
This finding clears the person’s driving record of any period of suspension/revocation. This is a good thing since a record of suspension or revocation can:
- cause an insurance company to increase rates of insurance, and
- lead an employer to deny the driver certain employment opportunities.
Is a set side the same as reinstatement?
An order of reinstatement is similar to a set aside order in that it:
- is issued by a DMV hearing officer at the completion of an administrative hearing,
- is an order that ends any period of suspension/revocation, and
- allows a driver to resume driving.
There is a primary difference though between the two orders. This is that with a reinstatement order, the hearing officer issues the finding that any original suspension/revocation decision was justified.
This means that the period of suspension or revocation will remain on the person’s driving record. A result is a potential of:
- increased insurance rates, and
- lost employment opportunities.
Note that following an administrative hearing, the hearing officer can issue an Order of Set Aside or reinstatement or may order the continuation of a period of suspension/revocation.
What is the difference between a license suspension and a revocation?
A suspension of driving privileges is different than the revocation of the same.
A suspension is when the DMV:
- withholds or freezes a motorist’s driving privileges, and
- does so for a defined period of time (usually from six months to four years).
Revocation, on the other hand, is the outright termination of a motorist’s driving privileges. Termination means driving privileges are gone, or officially expired.
Note that California does not reinstate a revoked driver’s license. Rather, a person whose driving privileges have been revoked must:
- apply for a brand-new license, and
- do so once the period of revocation is over.
This means that the person must pass:
- a written driving test,
- a vision test, and
- a driving test in the field with a DMV instructor.
All test results have to be positive.
A person will also be required to do the following to obtain a new license:
- take any required courses (e.g., Alcohol and Drug Education),
- provide the DMV with any required documentation (e.g., proof of insurance), and
- pay any applicable reissue, administrative, and court fees.