CA Law: Suspended license & writ of mandate

In California, suspension of the driving privilege can be overturned by the court’s Writ of Mandate. Part of the standard language for petition for the writ reads: “At all times herein mentioned, the petitioner was the holder of a valid California driver’s license…”

My question: why is this important? Is a driver not entitled to petition for a writ if his license expires and gets renewed/reinstated between, say, the citation date and the suspension date? I don’t see anything covering this in the vehicle code, the civil procedure code, or the rules of court.

I’m not sure what you’re asking here, but I’ll add some info that may help you in clarifying your question.

You’re asking about a writ of mandamus, or as I understand it is called in California, a writ of mandate. See the Wikipedia entry here, but understand that generally speaking, a writ of mandamus orders a governmental body to do something within its jurisdiction: for example, in the case of the DMV, to reinstate a driver’s license.

More directly to the point of your question, I’d guess that the California petitioner could apply for a writ of mandate to reinstate his or her license after any suspension was over, but before receiving word that it was officially over–in other words, if the California DMV forgot to officially reinstate the license after the suspension period, the license-holder could apply for a writ of mandate to force the DMV to end the suspension and officially notify the license-holder.

I doubt very much that a writ of mandate could overcome a lawfully-imposed suspension, but I see no reason why it could not be used to reinstate a license if the DMV neglected to after the suspension is over.

Just some thoughts and guesses, anyway. I’d be interested in hearing from any California legal Dopers on the question.

The writ of mandate is the final means of appeal for any administrative action by a California agency; in the case of the DMV, it is used to reverse suspension or revocation of the driving privilege. It’s usually requested in the case of DUI suspensions, but is definitely available in the case of suspensions for negligent operation (“points”) – that is not in question. The court must find that the agency acted improperly.

ETA And I found the answer, discussed below.

Never mind, I found it. The importance lies in the standard of review: in Berlinghieri v. DMV, the appeals court found:

A “fundamental vested right,” in this context, is not a “fundamental right” as in a due process case, but merely a legitimately acquired right that has fundamental importance in a person’s life.

If the petitioner does not have a license, then there is no “right,” and the court’s scope of review is correspondingly diminished.