“How does DMV suspend thee? Let me count the ways.”

By: Wallin & Klarich

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has crafted numerous methods of suspending or revoking a motorist’s driver’s license stemming from a wide variety of both criminal and civil traffic related and non traffic related legal matters. Suspensions and revocations can result from a violation of numerous California Vehicle Code (VC) offenses, failure to pay certain small claim’s judgments in full, failure to pay child support, and violations of certain California Penal Code violations (PC).

Perhaps the most common way of getting one’s California Drivers’ License (CDL) suspended is by violating certain sections of the Vehicle Code. Below are but a sample of the Vehicle Code sections that can result in a suspension of your CDL. The DMV shall immediately revoke your driving privileges for:

• Failure of the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person to stop.
• Violation of VC §23152, misdemeanor driving under the influence, or VC§23153, felonious driving under the influence.
• Reckless driving causing bodily injury.
• Conviction of a second or subsequent offense of reckless driving.
• Conviction of manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle.
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• Conviction of three or more violations of VC §20001, 20002 (failure to stop at accident), 23103, or 23104 (reckless driving) within a 12-month period.
• Conviction of a violation of PC §191.5 (Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated) or VC §2800.3 (Death or bodily injury caused while fleeing from police) that caused serious bodily injury resulting in a serious impairment of physical condition.
• Conviction of manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle under the influence.

Remember, this is but a sample. Contact an experienced DMV attorney to discuss your specific situation and possible consequences with regards to the DMV.

Another way for the DMV to suspend you CDL is for failure to satisfy a small claims judgment via California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP). CCP §116.870 provides that a judgment debtor’s driving privilege may be suspended for failing to satisfy a small claims judgment if the judgment was (a) for damage to property in excess of $750 or for bodily injury to, or death of, a person in any amount; and (b) resulted from the operation of a motor vehicle on a California highway by the defendant, or by any other person for whose conduct the defendant was liable. In essence, if you are found liable in a small claims court for an amount exceeding $750 from a car accident the DMV can suspend your license until you pay the judgment in full. Also, under CCP s116.880, even if the judgment was for LESS than $750, the judgment creditor can ask the DMV to suspend your CDL until the judgment is paid in full.

Another way for the DMV to suspend your license is failure to pay child support. Starting January 1st, 1996, the California Legislature authorized the DMV under California Family Code Section 17520 to suspend the CDL of any person who fails to pay child support. If the DMV suspends your CDL for this reason, you are eligible for a 150 day temporary license to clear the issue up and obtain your CDL again.
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If the issue is not resolved then you will lose ALL driving privileges until the matter is resolved.

Yet another common way for the DMV to suspend your CDL is via VC §13350(a)(2). This code section provides in part, “The department [DMV] immediately shall revoke the privilege of any person to drive a motor vehicle upon receipt of a duly certified abstract of the record of any court showing that the person has been convicted of…[a]ny felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used…”. This means that if you plead guilty to any felony in which a motor vehicle was found to have been used, the DMV can suspend your CDL.

The above are but a few ways for the DMV to take action against your driver’s license. It is always recommended that you consult an experienced attorney to provide more detailed information regarding DMV suspensions and revocations and possible defenses to such suspensions and revocations.

Posted In: DMV Hearings