Negligent Operator Law
For most people, getting “points” on their driving record is an aggravation that results in expensive court fines and increased auto insurance rates. However, under the California Department of Motor Vehicles negligent operator treatment system (“NOTS”), drivers who accumulate too many points can be designated a “negligent operator” and can risk having their driving privileges suspended. For those who have been notified of an impending “negligent operator” designation it is critical to challenge this suspension by requesting a DMV administrative hearing.
In California, drivers can accumulate points for a variety of different offenses or infractions. The DMV assesses points for four different categories of driving events: traffic accidents, moving violations, mechanical violations that result in a vehicle being unsafe for the road and criminal convictions involving driving.
Drivers who were involved in a traffic collision will be assessed one point on their driving record. This point would only be assessed to drivers who are determined to have been at fault in the accident. Most moving violation infractions will also result in one point being assessed. These include speed violations, running red lights, crossing double yellow lines or driving with an open container of alcohol.
Certain mechanical violations can result in one point being assessed to a driver’s record, such as having inoperable brakes. In addition, many criminal driving offenses will result in two points being assessed to the defendant’s driving record upon conviction. Convictions for driving under the influence under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC and California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC, wet reckless pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC, driving on a suspended license pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC or hit and run under California Vehicle Code Section 20002 VC will all result in two points being added to the defendant’s driving record. The California DMV will also take into consideration driving violations from other states.
When a driver receives two points within a 12-month period, four points within a 24-month period or six points within a 36-month period, he or she will receive a warning letter from the DMV. This is considered a “Level 1” action. When the driver receives three points in a 12-month period, five points in a 24-month period or seven points in a 36-month period, the DMV will send a “Level 2” notice of intent to suspend to the driver. For drivers who accrue four points in a 12-month period, six points in a 24-month period or eight points in a 36-month period, the DMV will send a “Level 3” order of probation and suspension letter to the driver. The letter will notify the driver that if no action is taken, the driver will be designated a negligent operator and will have his or her driving privileges suspended for six months and will be placed on probation for a period of one year.
To challenge a negligent operator designation, the driver or his or her attorney must request an administrative hearing and stay of suspension within 10 days of receiving the Level 3 letter from the DMV. The hearing will be before a hearing officer who is neither a judge nor an attorney. The hearing officer may examine several factors at the DMV negligent operator hearing, including whether the driving record is reflected accurately, whether there are any pending charges or tickets not reflected in the DMV’s record, whether the defendant was responsible for the accidents on his or her driving record, whether alcohol was involved in any of the violations, and whether there are any aggravating or mitigating factors that may exist.
The DMV hearing officer may determine that the suspension should be set aside, that the driver should be placed on probation but allowed to drive, that the driver should be allowed a restricted license that would limit when the driver can lawfully drive or that the suspension is valid and no driving should be allowed.
If you or a loved one have received notice of an impending negligent operator suspension, it is important that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is highly effective at helping clients keep their driver’s licenses.
For more information about Los Angeles negligent operator suspensions, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.