Following a favorable June 2020 decision by the California Court of Appeal, Pillsbury along with the Western Center for Law & Poverty successfully mediated with the California Department of Motor Vehicles to determine how the decision will be implemented.

In its decision, the court ruled that the DMV cannot suspend the licenses of drivers who fail to appear in court unless the department receives a notification of a willful failure to appear.

Following the mediation, the DMV agreed to a stipulated judgment that will reinstate the licenses of thousands of drivers. Going forward, the DMV will also not suspend a license unless the traffic court sends the required notice that the failure to appear was willful.

The case, Hernandez v. CA DMV, was originally filed in 2016 and challenged driver’s license suspensions when a driver did not pay their ticket or appear in court. The failure-to-pay issues were resolved in 2018 by a combination of legislative change and litigation — drivers no longer have their license suspended for unpaid traffic tickets in California. In June, the Court of Appeal decided the remaining issue regarding what type of notice a traffic court has to send the DMV to suspend a driver’s license for a failure to appear. The court sided with the plaintiffs, finding that the traffic court has to send a notice that alleges the failure-to-appear was willful.