California DMV Audit Ordered for Long Wait Times

California DMV Audit Ordered for Long Wait Times

A California DMV audit has been ordered by the governor for the ridiculous wait times reported by motorists at numerous DMV field offices across the state. Based on a law practice that deals with DMV offices across California every day, we could add our own observations that we hope the audit addresses. First, the Mandatory Actions Unit frequently does not even answer its phone, dumping callers after navigating the long voice-response queue. MAU is the front-line of contact for the significant number of motorists involved in licensing actions, and it is inexcusable that they cannot get through. Second, in the last 12 months or so, we have noticed increasing numbers of calls and letters to Driver Safety offices simply being ignored. San Francisco Driver Safety is the lead culprit, pretending numerous times not to have received facsimile transmissions and refusing to do anything about it. State Finance Director Keely Martin Bosler (who is appointed by Brown) notified the agency that her office will conduct the California DMV audit amid concerns about the agency’s performance. “As we have discussed, long wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles do not reflect the high standards of service that Californians expect from their state government,” Bosler wrote in a letter Friday to DMV Director Jean Shiomoto.  Shiomoto responded that DMV welcomes “the Department of Finance’s input into DMV’s ongoing efforts to reduce wait times and improve customer service and stand ready to assist with the audit.” The delays have been worsened by frequent computer crashes, including one Thursday that interrupted operations at 68 of the DMV’s 172 field offices for more than...
Rodney Gould wins San Francisco DMV Appeal

Rodney Gould wins San Francisco DMV Appeal

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco just overturned a DMV suspension for one of Mr. Gould’s motorist clients. In Miller v. Department of Motor Vehicles (May 2, 2018; A147050), a unanimous appellate panel agreed with Mr. Gould that the motorist’s arrest was illegal and that therefore, so was the suspension of his license. In the wee hours of the morning of  July 31, 2014, CHP Officer Christopher Pettyjohn was investigating a single car collision in an unincorporated area of Humboldt County.  The vehicle was registered to Mr. Miller at an address some two miles away. Officer Pettyjohn, under the pretense of “checking his well-being,” directed another officer to Miller’s house. The second officer gained entrance to the house through Miller’s roommate and then barged into Miller’s bedroom and awakened him. He ordered Miller outside and waited for Pettyjohn to arrive. When Officer Pettyjohn arrived, he initiated a DUI investigation and ultimately arrested Miller for DUI. When DMV suspended Miller’s driver’s license administratively, he hired an attorney to file a writ petition. The judge in Humboldt County refused to issue the writ. Then Miller hired Mr. Gould. Mr. Gould argued on appeal that there was no justification for the police officers to go into Miller’s bedroom. There were no exigent circumstances to justify it, nor any permission to enter his bedroom granted, as the roommate did not have the authority to give that permission. “We conclude that Miller’s detention was not lawful. A vehicle involved in a single-car accident without more does not indicate that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, nor do these facts indicate that...
U.S. House Passes Sweeping Autonomous Car Bill

U.S. House Passes Sweeping Autonomous Car Bill

The U.S. House today unanimously approved a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles. The bill now goes to the Senate and would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three...
New California Regs to Allow Vehicle Testing Sans Driver

New California Regs to Allow Vehicle Testing Sans Driver

Yesterday California’s DMV published a revised set of draft regulations to govern the testing of driverless cars–or autonomous vehicles if you prefer. This set of regulations allows something the previous set did not: the testing of cars without a driver inside. The draft regulations face a period of public comment before becoming...
Driverless Car Coalition to Push Feds for Regs

Driverless Car Coalition to Push Feds for Regs

Google’s self-driving car division has formed a coalition with automakers and ride-share companies to push the federal government to adopt a uniform set of laws governing autonomous vehicles. The group includes Google, Lyft, Uber, Ford and Volvo. David Strickland, the Coalition’s counsel and spokesperson, said, “The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards, and the Coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving...
Google Seeks Special Driverless Car Agency

Google Seeks Special Driverless Car Agency

Instead of waiting for new regulations that will make way for self-driving cars on US roads, Google wants the government to create a new Federal-level authority that could review the company’s self-driving cars and give it special permissions for deployment. Google’s self-driving car, which is designed without pedals or a steering wheel, has had difficulties with current safety regulations that dictate a vehicle must allow a person to actually drive the car and have manual...
Driverless Cars Clear Major U.S. Hurdle

Driverless Cars Clear Major U.S. Hurdle

Reuters is reporting that U.S. regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have concluded that the artificial intelligence behind autonomous vehicles may be considered a “driver” for purposes of United States law. In a letter to Google from NHTSA’s Chief Counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh advised, “NHTSA will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants.” The decision is seen as a major step forward in clearing regulatory hurdles associated with the century-old model based on human drivers. If the car’s computer is the driver for legal purposes, then it clears the way for Google or automakers to design vehicle systems that communicate directly with the vehicle’s artificial pilot. Google told NHTSA that the real danger is having auto safety features that could tempt humans to try to take control....
Half of California Driver’s Licenses Issued to Undocumented Residents

Half of California Driver’s Licenses Issued to Undocumented Residents

According to the Los Angeles Times, an estimated 605,000 licenses were issued last year under Assembly Bill 60, the measure passed last year that grants the right to a California driver’s license to people in the country illegally. The figure accounts for almost half of all licenses issued in California last year. Officer Josh Nelson, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, suggested the measure likely improved highway safety in California. “Knowing that these drivers are being properly trained in order to get their licenses, it would only make sense that the roads would be safer,” he...
Feds: “One Drink” Legal Limit and No Cell Phones

Feds: “One Drink” Legal Limit and No Cell Phones

The National Transportation Safety Board would like to decrease the legal driving limit to one drink, lowering the legal limit on blood-alcohol content to 0.05 “or even lower.” The agency released its “most wanted list” on Wednesday, an annual wish list of changes it would make it would make across America if it could. Two of these proposals certain to stir controversy are the lowering of the legal limit and outlawing all cell phone use while driving, even hands-free technology. “When it comes to alcohol use, we know that impairment begins before a person’s BAC reaches 0.08 percent, the current legal limit in the United States,” the agency said. “In fact, by the time it reaches that level, the risk of a fatal crash has more than doubled. That is why states should lower BAC levels to 0.05— or even...