The DMV Writ of Mandate Process

Definitions & Uses

The DMV Writ of Mandate Process

“Writ” is a fancy word for order. Specifically, a writ is an order from a judge or panel of judges telling someone to do something. Often a writ is directed to a government agency or official, like the famous writ of habeas corpus directed to a prison warden to produce a prisoner.

A writ of mandate (or mandamus in Latin) is an order commanding someone to do something. In the DMV context, a writ of mandate commands DMV to overturn a suspension or perform some other administrative function. These writs are also called administrative writs of mandate.

3 Steps to Winning a Writ of Mandate

There are three main steps in the writ of mandate process.

  1. Convince the judge to stay (“temporarily stop”) the suspension while you fight over the writ. It’s only fair that you not be suspended during the time it takes you to prove that the suspension is wrong.
  2. Convince the judge through briefs and oral argument to grant the writ.
  3. Ask for attorney’s fees under Government Code section 800 for DMV’s arbitrary and capricious conduct.

Section 13559 provides for an administrative writ action against DMV following any suspension after a hearing under 13558. These writs are filed under the auspices of Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5 and must be filed within 34 days after DMV sends notice of the suspension.

The common law also allows for a writ of mandate action against DMV, but only in cases that don’t fall under Section 13559. In other words, a common law writ is available when there was not a hearing under Section 13559. These “common law” writs are filed under Code of Civil Procedure section 1085 and do not have a fixed deadline. They must be filed in a “reasonable” time.

CCP 1085, CCP 1094.5, GC 800, VC 13558, VC 13559

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