The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), is the state agency that is in control of monitoring the driving privilege of everyone who operates a motor vehicle in California. The DMV has been empowered with evaluating and ensuring that new applicants qualify for a driver license. Moreover, the agency is also tasked with ensuring that those who already possess a driver license continue to maintain their skill, knowledge and fitness to continue operating a vehicle safely.

For the Department of Motor Vehicles, a primary focus lies in investigating drivers who have developed medical conditions or disorders that are characterized by a lapse of consciousness. Drivers can suffer a lapse of consciousness due to a wide range of medical issues, which may include:

  • Brain trauma,
  • Epilepsy,
  • Cardiovascular disorders,
  • Diabetes,
  • Seizures,
  • Brain tumors,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • Mental disorders,
  • Fainting,
  • Substance abuse, and
  • Certain lung disorders

According to the California Health and Safety Code §103900, a lapse of consciousness is a condition that has caused a significant reduction in a driver’s alertness and/or responsiveness. As an active motorist in the State of California, it is important to understand that the Department of Motor Vehicles will be concerned with a driver’s lapse of consciousness even when the driver is not behind the wheel at the time of the incident. For instance, a driver who has suffered a seizure while being at home or work can be investigated and scrutinized as intensely as drivers who have experienced a seizure while driving.

How the DMV Notifies Drivers That They Are Being Investigated

In a majority of cases, drivers will be notified that they are being investigated via a notice received by mail. DMV investigations are private and may catch unsuspecting drivers off guard. Nonetheless, the Department of Motor Vehicles is tasked with ensuring licensed motorists are able to drive safely alongside other drivers. The agency will therefore order questionable drivers to be reexamined and/or advise them that their driving privileges has been suspended.

In the event that the Department of Motor Vehicles has taken action to suspend or revoke the driving privilege of a motorist, that person will receive an Order of Suspension or Revocation. This notice advises motorists that their driving privilege has been withdrawn until the matter is resolved. Furthermore, the notice will also provide the effective date of suspension and the reason behind the suspension. Finally, the notice will let drivers know that they have a legal right to contest the matter and schedule an administrative hearing.

How the DMV Can Discover That a Person Has Experienced a Lapse of Consciousness

The DMV is ingrained throughout many segments of society and consequently, it receives important information about a motorist’s fitness to drive safely and the possibility of existing medical issues through a wide range of sources. These sources can include, but are not limited to the following:

Medical Professionals – Physicians, emergency room doctors, and other licensed medical staff are legally obligated by the State of California to report a person’s lapse of consciousness to the California Department of Public Health. The Department of Public Health will then report the information to the Department of Motor Vehicles. When a physician learns of a person’s lapse of consciousness, he or she will draft a Confidential Morbidity Report in order to document the event. Utilizing the report, the DMV will then move to order a peremptory suspension of the patient’s driver license.

First Responders and Law Enforcement Officers – In many emergency situations, law enforcement officers and first responders will be at the scene shortly after a person has experienced a lapse of consciousness. When these first responders learn the driver has suffered a lapse of consciousness, they will likely report the incident to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

You Have a Legal Right to Protect Your Driving Privileges

Receiving a notice of the suspension of driving privileges can be shocking. The suspension can result in a great deal of stress and concern, particularly for those who need to drive in order to earn a living. Individuals who have received an Order of Suspension or Revocation have a legal right to dispute the claims in an Administrative Hearing. These hearings are very complex and as a result, it is recommended to retain the support of a knowledgeable Advocate who has experience at DMV hearings.

California Drivers Advocates have many years of dedicated experience helping motorists defend their driving privilege at DMV Administrative Hearings. If you have received an Order of Suspension or Revocation, it is critical that you act quickly and seek professional support as soon as possible. Contact California Drivers Advocates for more information.