What causes the DMV to label me as a Negligent Driver? Once a person is issued a Driver License by the State of California, they are forever under the watchful eye of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  The DMV is tasked with the obligation of ensuring that all persons applying for a driver license possess both the skill and the knowledge to drive.  However, throughout the driver’s life, the DMV will monitor that person’s driving history to ensure they maintain that same level of knowledge and skill.

If a person develops a history of bad driving, of if that person is involved in an incident that suggests they may be unsafe to drive, the DMV possesses the power to label that person as a Negligent Driver.  Often referred to as a Negligent Operator, the effected driver may come under the DMV’s scrutiny for any one of the following reasons:

  • Accumulating too many citations for moving violations in a specified period of time.
  • Being involved in too many traffic accidents in a specified period of time.
  • Being involved in a traffic accident where they caused or contributed to a serious injury.
  • Being involved in a traffic accident where they caused or contributed to a fatality.
  • Being involved in an incident of highway violence often referred to as “Road Rage.”
  • Other dangerous or criminal acts while driving.

Moving Violations: The Department of Motor Vehicles utilizes a powerful database to monitor the number of moving violations accumulated by any given driver.  Known as the Negligent Operator Treatment System or “NOTS,” this database alerts the DMV to a driver whose pattern of violations may suggest they are a dangerous or unskilled driver.

California Vehicle Code section 12810 directs how the DMV will assess “points” for specified violations.  Most moving violations will be assign 1 NOTS Point upon conviction.  Certain misdemeanor convictions (i.e. DUI and Hit & Run) will assign 2 NOTS points upon conviction.  As a person’s point count increases, they become more of a concern for the DMV.

If a person accumulates too many points within a specified period of time, they are presumed to be a Negligent Driver / Negligent Operator and are subject to the suspension of their driving privilege.

  • 4 points within a 12 month period
  • 6 points within a 24 month period
  • 8 points within a 36 month period

For professional drivers who hold a Class “A” or Class “B” driver license, the DMV holds them to a higher standard of performance, therefore the holder of a commercial driver license is subject to higher point counts for moving violations.  As a general rule, commercial drivers are assigned 1.5 points for violations that would only account for 1 point for regular Class “C” drivers.

  • 6 points in a 12 month period
  • 8 points in a 24 month period
  • 10 points in a 36 month period

Traffic Accidents: As a general rule, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is most concerned with a driver who accumulates more than three “at fault” traffic collisions in one year, however, an accumulation of too many accidents, whether your fault or not, can cause the DMV to begin a suspension action.

Serious Injury Traffic Accident: If the DMV learns that a driver either caused or contributed to a traffic accident resulting in serious injury to another person, the department may label that person as a Negligent Driver or Negligent Operator and initiate a suspension action.

The general definition of a “serious injury” is any brain injury, internal injury, broken bone or laceration from which blood flows freely.  The reality, however, is the DMV will likely take a very dim view of you as a driver if you caused ANY injury to another person through an act of inattention or negligence.

Fatality Traffic Accident: If the DMV learns that a driver either caused or contributed to a traffic accident resulting in the death of another person, the department is very likely to initiate a suspension or revocation action against that person.  The standard of proof is actually quite low……… the DMV need only prove that you “caused” or “contributed to” the accident.  As difficult as that sounds, however, professional defense may save your driving privilege.

Highway Violence: Often referred to as “Road Rage”, Highway Violence is an increasingly common and very dangerous event occurring on our roadways.  Highway Violence is defined as:

“Aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of a vehicle.  Such behavior  might include rude gestures, verbal insults, deliberately driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, or making threats.  Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults, and collisions resulting in injury and even death.  It can be thought of as an extreme case of aggressive driving.”

Because the statements of involved parties and witnesses are often in conflict, it may be difficult; if not impossible, to actually identify the aggressor in such an event.  If the DMV determines that a driver was involved in an incident, and even if they can’t determine who was actually at fault, the Department will act to remove those persons from the road.

Other Dangerous or Criminal Driving: The truth is, the California Department of Motor Vehicles can “spin” just about any driving event into an allegation of negligent driving.  Some of the more common incidents that may result in a driver being labeled as a Negligent Driver or Negligent Operator are:

  • Assault using a vehicle as a weapon
  • Evading or eluding police
  • Reckless driving

What can the DMV do to my Driver License for being a Negligent Driver? This really is not the easiest question to answer because there are numerous variables.  Generally speaking, however, the DMV may:

  • Take no action and reinstate the driving privilege
  • Reinstate the Driving Privilege and place the driver on probation.
  • Reinstate the Driving Privilege and place the driver on a restricted privilege.
  • Suspend the driver license for up to one year.
  • Revoke the driver license for an indeterminate period of time.

 What can I do if the DMV has labeled a Negligent Driver or Negligent Operator? In almost all instances, a driver will learn they Department of Motor Vehicles has identified them as a Negligent Operator by receiving an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail.  This letter will identify the reason for the suspension/revocation and will further advise the driver they have a right to a hearing.

If you have received an “Order of Suspension/Revocation” in the mail for being a Negligent Driver or Negligent Operator, do not despair.  There is a lot to be done to defend you, however you must react quickly.  Contact must be made with the Driver Safety Office near your home within the first 14 days to schedule a “Negligent Operator Hearing.”  This type of hearing permits the driver to present evidence which rebuts the DMV’s information or to demonstrate that the driver is committed to modifying their driving behavior to promote safety.

The most critical first step is to telephone the DMV Defense Experts at California Drivers Advocates.  We have been conducting this type of administrative hearing before the DMV for many years.  Our experience wasn’t gained in a classroom or by reading a book.  Our experience comes from years in the trenches.  We beat the DMV at their own game and can provide you the best opportunity to retaining your driver license.