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How Traffic Tickets Could Cost You Your Driving Privilege in California

If you live in California and you’ve received a speeding ticket or you have been convicted of a driving-related crime, chances are you’re aware that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) assigns “points” against you on your driving record. If you get too many points, you may be classified as a “negligent operator” under the DMV Negligent Operator Treatment System commonly referred to as NOTS. It is important to understand how traffic tickets could cost you your driving privilege.

The DMV may restrict, suspend, or even revoke the driving privileges of a negligent operator. In California, you are presumed to be a negligent operator if you receive:

  • 4 or more points in a 12-month period;
  • 6 points in a 24-months period; or
  • 8 points in a 36-month period.1

There are dozens of infractions that qualify as “one-point count” vehicle code violations. Generally, “two-point count” vehicle code violations are misdemeanor or felony crimes, such as DUI, reckless driving, hit & run, and evading a police officer. Out-of-state driving convictions also count against you.

California Negligent Operator Treatment System

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There are four levels of actions in NOTS:

  • Level I: A warning letter is sent to you if you receive:
  • 2 points within 12 months
  • 4 points within 24 months
  • 6 points within 36 months
  • Level II: A “Notice of Intent to Suspend” is sent to you if you receive:
  • 3 points within 12 months
  • 5 points within 24 months
  • 7 points within 36 months
  • Level III: Your driving privilege will be suspended and an “Order of Probation/Suspension” is sent to you under the following conditions:
  • 4 points within 12 months
  • 6 points within 24 months
  • 8 points within 36 months
  • Level IV: Violation of NOTS probation and extension of suspension or driver’s license revocation as follows:
  • Six month extension of suspension for a first and second violation of probation. The probation period is also extended for one year from the date of the violation.
  • One year revocation for a third violation of probation.2

Negligent Operator Hearings

You have a right to a NOTS hearing if the DMV is considering discretionary action against your driving privilege. You have 10 days to schedule a hearing upon receiving notice of the pending action.

At a DMV negligent operator hearing, your driving record is reviewed to determine whether you should be classified as a negligent operator under the point count system and determine whether any action against your driving privilege is warranted. You are entitled to present evidence and testify on your behalf. You are also entitled to attorney representation.

A NOTS hearing is limited to the following:

  • Accuracy of your driving record;
  • Pending court charges, collisions or convictions not shown on the record which may reflect a negligent driving pattern;
  • Accidents on your record at which you were at fault;
  • Any alcohol-related violations or accidents as indicated by your record;
  • Any mitigating or aggravating factors;
  • Any physical and mental conditions related to your driving record.3

The standard of proof required to determine whether you are a negligent operator is “preponderance of the evidence.” This preponderance is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable truth or accuracy and not on the amount of evidence.4

Why You Should Hire Wallin & Klarich to Represent You at DMV Hearings

Hiring a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in California DMV hearings can help you avoid the following:

  • Loss of your driving privileges for up to one year;
  • Loss of your right to a hearing if you fail to request one within the 10-day limit;
  • Probation violations or subsequent violations which can extend suspension of your driving privileges or result in revocation of your driver’s license.

Outcomes of a Negligent Operator Hearing

At the conclusion of your NOTS hearing, the DMV has several options.

  • If your California DMV hearing attorney is successful in persuading the hearing officer that your license shouldn’t be suspended or revoked, the DMV may set aside the suspension.
  • If the hearing officer isn’t willing to set aside your suspension, your DMV hearing attorney may be able to convince the hearing officer to place you on probation rather than to suspend your license.
  • If the hearing officer insists on suspending your license, your DMV hearing attorney may be able to persuade the officer to grant you a restricted license allowing you to drive for specific purposes (for example, to and from work or school).

Without experienced legal representation, you risk a full suspension of your driving privilege for up to one year. Keep in mind that driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor offense in California pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 14601. A violation is punishable by a minimum of five days and up to one year in jail and a fine between $300 and $2,000 depending on how many prior convictions you have.5

Hiring an Attorney from Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Avoid Losing Your Driving Privilege

If you are facing suspension of your driving privilege due to negligent operator status, you need to consider hiring an experienced DMV hearing attorney from Wallin & Klarich. Losing your driver’s license could jeopardize your job and send you to jail if you are caught driving on a suspended license.

Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of our clients. With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced attorney near you no matter where you are located.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.


1. [Vehicle Code § 12810.5 (a)]
2. [California Department of Motor Vehicles: “NOTS ACTIONS”;
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/driversafety/neg_operator.htm#three_1
]

3. [Id.]
4. [The Free Dictionary: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/preponderance+of+the+evidence]
5. [Cal. Vehicle Code § 14601 (b)]

About Wallin & Klarich

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.