Understanding and Avoiding ‘Negligent Driver’ Status

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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Being declared a ‘negligent operator’ or ‘negligent driver’ in California means that you have built up multiple past traffic violation points that have had a negative impact on your driving record.


In order to avoid such a tag, which can be a serious impediment to your driving freedom, first you need to understand what being a negligent driver means. There are four main categories that can lead you to being categorized as a negligent driver:

1. Accidents

Getting assigned in this category means the driver has been directly responsible for causing a traffic accident. This misdemeanor means the driver receives one negative point on the driving record.

2. Moving Violations

This violation is also worth one point. This category is assigned to a negligent driver in the event of speeding, running a stop sign, crossing a double yellow line, passing illegally, turning across a bicycle lane or driving while being in possession of an open alcohol container.

3. Mechanical Violations

Points assigned for this violation can vary depending on the severity of the crime. In general, this category relates to driving the car in a condition that compromises it’s safety.

4. Criminal Driving Offenses

This is the most serious offence that can be committed, and each violation can earn the driver two points or higher. Offences include DUIs, wet/dry reckless driving, hit and runs or felony committed while driving.

If convicted of such an offence outside California, the same rules apply while determining the points earned for the violation in California.

There are serious consequences to getting deemed a ‘negligent driver’ by the court, such as leading to a complete suspension of driving privileges. Upon receiving a letter from the DMV informing you of your status as a negligent operator, you can request a hearing to challenge the pronouncement.

Successfully arguing your case in court means you can get the designation reversed. You will need to hire a competent attorney who understands the system and can help put your case in a positive light in front of the judge.


Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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