What Is a Negligent Operator Hearing?

November 18, 2020

You will lose your license if you are deemed a negligent operator.

What Is a Negligent Operator Hearing?

In every driving under the influence (DUI) case, there are two components. First, there is an administrative aspect, as the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will administratively suspend your license based on your DUI arrest. The DMV will also issue points to your license if you are convicted of a DUI. Second, there is a criminal case, where you will face the possibility of being sentenced to jail, probation, community service and more if you are convicted of a DUI. A criminal defense attorney in Santa Ana, CA can handle both aspects of a DUI case on your behalf.

Many people who are charged with a DUI are not aware of how a DUI can affect so many different aspects of their lives. In particular, getting a DUI can impact your ability to drive as well as your auto insurance rates. In addition to the license suspension imposed by the DMV and/or the court for a DUI, you may also face what is known as a negligent operator hearing.

The California DMV considers a motorist to be a negligent operator if they accumulate a certain number of points on their driving record. Points are issued for a range of issues, including accidents, mechanical violations that impact safe driving, moving violations (like speeding) and criminal driving offenses (such as a DUI). For example, if you cause an accident or operate your vehicle with a mechanical defect, you may receive 1 point on your driving record. Similarly, most moving violations — like illegal passing — will result in 1 point.

However, criminal driving offenses, like a DUI or driving on a suspended license, will result in 2 points. This can lead to a negligent operator hearing.

The DMV follows a specific system for drivers who are considered negligent operators. First, you will receive a warning letter if you accumulate 2 points within a 12 month period, 4 points in a 24 month period, or 6 points in a 36 month period. If you continue to accumulate points (3/12 month, 5/24 month, or 7/36 month, you will receive a notice of intent to suspend. From there, you will get an order of suspension and probation if you get 4 points in a 12 month period (6/24 month, or 8/36 month). This letter will result in a driver’s license suspension for a period of 6 months and probation for 1 year.

If you violate probation, such as by committing a moving violation, being in any accident, or getting any 1 or 2 point violation, then you will receive a notice of violation. This will result in an additional 6 months of suspension and 1 year of probation. Your license may also be suspended.

This system doesn’t leave much wiggle room. However, if you have been deemed a negligent operator, you can request a negligent operator hearing to challenge this status and have your suspension set aside. You can request this hearing after your license is suspended or after you receive notice of a probation violation. These hearings are held at the DMV, and presided over by a DMV hearing officer. Based on their determination, your suspension may get set aside, you may remain on a suspension but get a restricted license, or your license may remain suspended. You can appeal the hearing officer’s decision.

Negligent operator status is closely linked to DUI convictions, as a single DUI conviction can trigger an initial warning letter. If you have any points on your license at the time of your conviction, then you may be deemed a negligent operator and have to deal with an additional license suspension from the DMV.


At the Chambers Law Firm, we understand that there are a broad range of consequences associated with DUIs. Our team of criminal defense attorneys in Santa Ana, CA is here to help. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or info@orangecountyduifirm.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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