How to handle a P and M Hearing: Your right to have a lawyer help you.
The California DMV is the state agency responsible for issuing and regulating driver’s licenses. The DMV will take steps to suspend someones’ license if that person is, or could be a safety risk due to physical or mental limitations. A P and M hearing, or interview are serious proceedings that can result in a life-time ban on someone’s ability to drive a car. Due to the serious nature of these proceedings, a driver facing a P and M hearing has the right to have the assistance of a lawyer (of their own choosing) help them at the P and M hearing.
Understanding the different DMV hearing processes:
P & M: Physical and Mental Evaluation: The typical starting place for most P and M cases.
Every year, accidents involving property damage and in serious cases, injuries occur due to drivers with physical or mental conditions causing an accident. In order to reduce the risk of traffic accidents in the cases, the DMV has instituted procedures to get people with physical or mental issues off of the road. While the goals of the program are something that everyone can agree on, the methods that the DMV uses can (and unfortunately sometimes do) place overly harsh restrictions on people who are otherwise safe drivers that do not cause a risk of harm.
The P and M process will start when the DMV gets notice that a particular driver may have physical or mental issues that create a risk of harm if they continue to drive without restriction. The P and M process can be initiated by:
-A DMV employee
-A law enforcement officer in the state of California
-A concerned citizen who has reason to believe (based on objective signs such as a large number of accidents) someone is a risk
The most common scenario involves a law enforcement officer who responds to the scene of an accident. After conducting an investigation, the officer may find good cause to refer the case to the DMV for a P and M evaluation. The most common scenario involves an accident where there are no obvious external factors that led to the crash, such as:
-Rain or snow
-Crowded road conditions
-Sunlight that may have momentarily blinded the driver(s) involved
-Alcohol or Drugs (If a law enforcement officer suspects drugs or alcohol are causal in an accident, they will initiate the APS Process (see here) and (see here (DMV information on APS hearings).)
If there are no obvious external factors that contributed to the accident and the law enforcement officer believes a physical or mental condition of the driver contributed to or caused the accident, they will notify the DMV using internal DMV steps. The DMV will make an internal review of the case, and if the DMV is satisfied the driver could present a risk to the safety of other drivers, the P and M process will begin.
P and M process: Next steps.
If the DMV determines the driver may present a risk, the DMV will send a notice to the driver outlining the steps in their P and M evaluation. The evaluation may simply consist of an informal interview to determine if the driver has a mental or physical condition that can be obviously determined by talking with the driver. The evaluation may also include:
-A written examination (basically a driver’s exam that new licensee’s have to undertake.)
-An eye and hearing test
-A full, behind the wheel evaluation
-A medical diagnostic/evaluation by a licensed Medical Doctor.
Any hearing or interview at the DMV is a serious proceeding that can ultimately result in the loss of someone’s driving privileges. Because of the serious nature of these proceedings, it is advisable to have a lawyer assist you. The lawyer can help you:
-Strategize and plan a winning counter-argument
-Interview witnesses/gather evidence in your favor
-Present the best argument at the hearing (it is difficult for many people to make clear, convincing arguments if their emotions are involved).
Possible outcomes from P and M proceedings:
The outcomes that are possible from P and M proceedings include:
-No further action by the DMV
-Referral to a medical doctor for evaluation
-Restrictions on a person’s driver’s license
-A suspension lasting anywhere from a short term, to a lifetime ban on driving in serious cases.