Last April, twenty-year-old Anna Marie Reynosa caused a fatal accident in Bakersfield, California. The accident occurred when she hit the back of a motorcycle, causing the rider to suffer fatal trauma. Reynosa was driving 20 miles per hour above the legal limit at the time of the collision. She had also had some beer, although she did not reach the level of legal intoxication, and she was texting and using her cell phone “constantly” before the accident, according to police reports. Despite facing up to six years in prison, she was able to retain her license following a bail hearing.
“Under California law, certain circumstances are necessary for a driver to lose his or her license,” explained car accident attorney James Ballidis.
This incident was not the first brush with the law for Reynosa. She had received three speeding tickets prior to the accident. Her history of speeding tickets, as well as the deadly accident, led The Bakersfield Californian to refer to her as a “maniac speeder.”
Driver’s License Laws
Despite the fact that Reynosa had received repeated speeding tickets and been arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, The Bakersfield Californian expressed concern that her driver’s license was not revoked or suspended. This may have been because the judge did not have the jurisdiction to suspend or revoke her license while her conviction was still pending.
In the criminal justice system in the United States, people must be assumed innocent until proven guilty and may not have their life, liberties or property taken away from them without due process of the law. Since Reynosa had only been arrested and a trial and conviction had not yet occurred, the judge could not revoke her driver’s license.
The DMV, however, has the authority to impose administrative suspensions or revocations on an individual’s driver’s license under certain circumstances. The DMV can suspend a driver’s license if an individual receives four or more points on his or her license within a twelve-month period. Reynosa, however, had only three points on her license from her prior speeding tickets, which is why her license was not suspended.
Further, DUI laws also allow for the suspension of a driver’s license when a driver is operating his or her vehicle above the legal limit. Officers may take an individual’s license upon arrest for DUI and issue a temporary license until a DMV administrative hearing is held to determine if the license should be suspended. The rights of officers to do this are limited, however, to cases where people meet the definition of DUI. Because Reynosa only had a small amount of alcohol in her system, law enforcement didn’t have the jurisdiction or authority to take her license.
All of this means that Reynosa may keep her driver’s license unless or until she is convicted of a crime, such as reckless driving, DUI, or related crimes or unless/until she is caught driving over the limit or speeding, which would trigger a suspension under statutory requirements. Reynosa was forbidden from driving as a condition of her bail-and could have her bail revoked if she disobeyed-but her license will remain in effect until she is convicted for vehicular manslaughter.
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