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...
DUI Bicycle Arrest Highlights Risk of Riding After Drinking

DUI Bicycle Arrest Highlights Risk of Riding After Drinking

A DUI bicycle arrest this week in Pennsylvania highlights the risk of riding a bicycle after consuming alcohol. Herman Ray Milke was arrested yesterday on charges stemming from a July 13 incident where he crashed his bicycle. Police waited for the results of his blood alcohol test before arresting him. State DUI laws usually prohibit riding a bicycle while intoxicated, either by including bicycles in the definition of “vehicle” for DUI purposes, or–as California’s Vehicle Code section 21200.5 does–by creating a special DUI bicycle arrest statute.  In California, the penalties for cycling under the influence are much less severe than for the corresponding DUI case, but a rider under 21 may have their license suspended. If you or anyone you know suffer a DUI bicycle arrest, call us and we’ll do our best to help you....
Motorist Sues for Interpreter on Written Test

Motorist Sues for Interpreter on Written Test

An Italian immigrant is suing the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles for refusing to translate the written driver’s license exam or allow for an interpreter. Federal law requires any agency receiving federal funds to accommodate folks with limited English proficiency. Apparently Rhode Island’s DMV will only allow the motorist to take the exam in English, Spanish or...
Bail for Traffic Trials Illegal: Chief Justice

Bail for Traffic Trials Illegal: Chief Justice

Demanding bail for traffic trials happens all across California. Let’s say you get a ticket for running a stop sign, but you know you didn’t to it. You go to court and ask the clerk or judge for a trial so you can put the officer to their proof. In most California courts, you will be asked to post “bail” before they will give you your day in court. Though flatly unconstitutional, courts from San Diego to Del Norte routinely force motorists to “pre-pay” the amount of the violation’s fine in order to set their traffic case for trial. We have always considered bail for traffic trials illegal and unconstitutional, and DMV lawyers usually advise their clients to refuse. Sadly, many motorists are unaware that charging bail for traffic trials is illegal, and they allow themselves to plead guilty to violations they may have beaten. The outrageous fines that can accumulate–coupled with the driver’s license suspension that often may accompany them–make this an access to justice issue. No less than the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court agrees. On Monday, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye asked the Judicial Council to expedite the creation of a statewide rule that make it clear that Californians do not have to pay for a traffic infraction before being able to appear in...
DMV Hearing Officer Guilty of Taking Bribes

DMV Hearing Officer Guilty of Taking Bribes

A DMV hearing officer guilty of accepting $5,000 in bribes was sentenced yesterday to three months in federal prison.  Alva Benavidez, 51, a Mission Valley branch DMV hearing officer guilty by plea in February in a San Diego federal court of one count of conspiracy to accept bribes, will serve six months of house arrest after her custody time. Benavidez was a hearing officer whose responsibilities included determining whether motorists accused of DUI could drive or not. She was accused of setting aside some suspensions and providing unauthorized temporary licenses. In exchange for those favors, Benavidez accepted bribes worth more than $5,000, including meals, designer purses and sunglasses, prosecutors said. She retired last year after the FBI searched her home and Mission Valley office. A DMV hearing officer guilty of such crimes is prosecuted in federal...