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Driving Under the Influence and DMV License Suspensions

In California, when a driver is arrested for driving under the influence, they are given a temporary, 30-day license from the Department of Motor Vehicles. On that notice, it states that the license is good for only thirty days and that after that time, the driver’s license will be suspended unless an Administrative Per Se hearing is requested. This request must be made within 10 days of the date of the arrest. The following is a list of situations for which the DMV may suspend your license:

  1. Driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher;
  2. Refusing to submit to a chemical test or, if under 21 years of age, refusing to submit to a PAS test;
  3. Refusing to submit to a PAS test if you are on DUI probation;
  4. Driving with a blood alcohol level of .01% or higher if on DUI probation;
  5. Driving with a blood alcohol level of .01% or higher if under 21 years of age;
  6. Driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .04% or higher.

As well as the DMV suspension action, all Court convictions for driving under the influence will trigger a license suspension. The only exception to this is if the driving under the influence charge can be pleaded as a “wet reckless”. A conviction for wet reckless does not trigger a license suspension.

The length of the suspension is dependent upon a how many prior convictions the individual has and whether the conviction is for driving under the influence or driving under the influence and causing bodily injury.

For a first time DUI, the DMV will impose a six-month suspension. The good news is that after serving a 30-day “hard suspension”, the individual may apply for a restricted license. To do this, you must first enroll in a first offender program, get a SR22 from your insurance company, and pay a reissuance fee to the DMV. If all of this is done, the DMV should issue you a restricted license, allowing you to drive to and from work and your alcohol program.

It is important to note that if you choose to apply for a restricted license, the total suspension time is six months. If you choose not to apply for a restricted license, and choose to accept the original suspension, the suspension period is four months. It is also important to note that if you refuse to submit to a chemical or breath test when asked to do so by a police officer, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year and, the refusal makes you ineligible for a restricted license.

I always recommend requesting an admin hearing with the DMV, along with a stay on the suspension. However, there are some situations where it may be best to just get the suspension started. An example of this would be if, the evidence is overwhelmingly in the prosecutor’s favor and, the individual is in custody on this or another matter, it might make more sense to let the suspension period start to run.

There are strategic reasons for and against an APS hearing, which is why it is always best to seek the advice and assistance of an experience DUI attorney immediately if you have been arrested for driving under the influence.