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8. Senior Driver Suspensions

The Process

Although California does not restrict drivers because of their age, nevertheless drivers who are 70 years or older must renew their licenses in person, must take a written test and must have their vision checked. General information regarding seniors and the DMV may be found on the DMV's website here: Senior Driver Information.

Seniors Re-Ex CitationSometimes an encounter with law enforcement or other situations may cause Napa County law enforcement to issue a DS427 Notice of Priority Reexamination (usually for alleged medical incidents), or see older 2004 version, or a DS427 Notice of Regular Reexamination (usually for alleged lack of knowledge or skill incidents). A concerned relative, friend or caregiver might have completed a DS 699 Request for Reexamination. In these situations, typically an informal telephone "reexamination" interview is conducted by a DMV driver safety hearing officer to determine if certain facts justify a suspension. It is always advisable to contact a local Napa DUI lawyer or DMV defense attorney to discuss the nature of this interview and how to approach and prepare for this first stage of the process.

The DMV hearing officer will complete a DS 2124 Driver Safety Report recommending a suspension, or set aside (removal of suspension) or another action. If the decision is suspension, then the driver typically receives a DS2439 Notice of Physical/Mental Condition Suspension, or a DS2439 Notice of Lack of Skill Suspension, which indicates that the driving privilege has been suspended as of a certain date and that the driver has a certain amount of time to request a formal hearing to challenge that suspension. If you are notified of such a reexamination, you should consider hiring a Napa County DUI attorney to request a hearing at the DMV within the time allowed for such a request so that you may have the opportunity to explain why the decision was unjustified, and ask for the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to drive safely.

As with medical suspensions, the DMV recognizes that your age and any need to sharpen safe driving skills are not your fault, and so these hearings are not meant to punish you or set you up for failure. The DMV wants everyone to maintain driving independence for as long as possible. But as our population ages, Napa County DUI lawyers know that, as with DUIs, accidents caused by driving error continue to make headlines (see for example: Crosswalk Accident Heightens Focus on Elderly Drivers), so police and the Napa DMV are increasingly pressured to act aggressively to promote safety, the singular focus of any DMV interview or hearing. This is an opportunity to show you are not a hazard on the Napa County roads.

And as with any governmental hearing, a local Napa County DUI lawyer can be extremely helpful guiding you through the process, especially since we work with the same type of process daily with DUI suspensions, and other types of driver license suspensions such as physical and mental suspensions, too many bad points suspensions, lack of skill suspensions, and other similar administrative proceedings at the DMV. As a Napa DUI attorney, Jake has defended numerous seniors in license hearings at the DMV.

Often such a hearing will result in the opportunity to take one or more drive tests and a written knowledge test so that you can show safe driving and adequate cognitive ability. You may be tested annually thereafter.

Senior Guide for Safe DrivingImprove Your Chances of Success

The Napa DMV tests for certain identified indicators of safe driving when testing the elderly (such as performing merges into traffic, changing lanes and backing up), so a specialized practice and training course designed just for seniors and their unique challenges may minimize the chances of later disappointment. You may wish to examine the DMV Senior Guide for Safe Driving to study many common issues senior drivers face.

The best Napa DUI lawyers know that senior drivers can be among the safest operators on the road because of sheer experience, nevertheless, you may wish to consider reviewing the general written test handbook (click here to see the DMV Handbook) and taking a driver training course specializing in teaching the elderly safe driving techniques that may be more difficult to perform in later years, or may have been forgotten over the years. You may wish to study the Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation Guide too. In most cases, the DMV will facilitate a senior taking a refresher driving course by issuing a Special Instruction Permit which allows driving with an instructor in the vehicle until the next drive test is taken. See "AARP Driver Safety Program Training Better Drivers," and click here to find Local AARP Classes, and click here to find more DMV Approved Mature Driver Improvement Programs. Click here to read Jake quoted in the Napa Register newspaper discussing the importance of refresher courses and seniors keeping their licenses.

The most experienced Napa DUI attorneys will encourage you to think about how the test can be best taken: most drivers have certain times of day and certain areas of town in which they are most comfortable. It is always best to schedule your Napa County tests at times and in places where you are most able to demonstrate your skills rather than in unfamiliar or less comfortable conditions. For example, if you live in Napa, it would probably be best to practice driving all around the Napa DMV and don't schedule your drive test in Petaluma. If you're usually sleepy after lunch, schedule your test in the morning.

A local Napa County DUI lawyer can be very helpful in senior driver suspensions to literally hold your hand during the re-examination hearing, and to help obtain a provisional license to take a refresher course and to address the precise issues of concern to Napa DMV.

Click here on DMV & Senior Drivers to obtain detailed information on how the DMV approaches senior drivers.

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Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, Wine Country resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of North Bay DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.

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