California Drivers License Suspensions from a First-Time DUI

 

One of the most dreaded California DUI penalties is a drivers license suspension. A first time DUI arrest in California doesn't necessarily mean your license will be suspended. In fact, a license suspension after a DUI arrest is far from automatic and you can often successfully fight it!

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Specifically, after your first-time California DUI arrest, you must do two things in order to prevent the suspension of your California driver's license:

    1. Avoid a DUI conviction in court,

      &
  1. Avoid losing (or failing to request within 10 days of your arrest) a DMV hearing

In the article below, our California DUI defense lawyers will address:

1. Court Triggered License Suspensions for a First Time DUI in California
2. Administrative License Suspensions for a First Time DUI in California
3. How is the Process Surrounding a Court Triggered License Suspension Different from that of the DMV Proceedings?
4. How Do I Obtain a Restricted License after a First Time DUI in California?

For more information on DMV and Court Triggered License Suspensions, please feel free to also visit out pages on:

∗ Second-Time DUI & Driver's License Suspensions

∗ Third-Time DUI & Driver's License Suspensions

1. Court Triggered License Suspensions for a First Time DUI in California
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A court conviction for a first-time DUI in California automatically triggers a six-month license suspension pursuant to Vehicle Code 13352(a)(1).1 A Judge, however, does not impose this suspension.

Instead, upon your conviction, the court notifies the DMV and the DMV imposes the suspension. Significantly, if you get the DUI charge reduced to reckless driving or to an offense other than driving under the influence, then there is no court-triggered license suspension.

In the event you decide to take your DUI case to trial and it results in a mistrial, hung jury or "not guilty" verdict, then no court triggered license suspension will take place.

2. Administrative License Suspensions for a First Time DUI in California?
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When facing a first offense DUI in California, you must also be aware that the California DMV will attempt to have your license suspended due to an administrative per se violation (APS).

Immediately after  being arrested on a first time DUI offense, you will be given just ten days in which to request a DMV hearing from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and therefore, put a temporary hold/stay on the suspension of your license.

However, if no hearing is requested, the DMV may then be able to automatically proceed with the suspension of your driver's license.

Significantly, only individuals arrested for DUI with a BAC of .08 or higher face such an administrative driver's license suspension. See Vehicle Code 13353.2.2 Hence, if you submitted to a chemical test and the results eventually show a blood alcohol concentration level below .08, the California DMV will NOT suspend your license per an APS violation.

If your BAC comes back .08 or above, however, you will need to request and prepare for a DMV hearing. While the chances of being successful at a DMV hearing are typically slim, they certainly improve if you are represented at the hearing by an attorney who knows what they are doing.

If you win your hearing, no administrative license suspension is imposed. If you lose your hearing, the DMV suspends your license for four months.3 See Vehicle Code 13353.3.4

3. How is the Process Surrounding a Court Triggered License Suspension Different from that of the DMV Proceedings?
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The DMV hearing and court trial are independent of each other.  While the DMV hearing deals solely with your driving privilege and the circumstances surrounding a DUI arrest, the Court trial deals with whether you are guilty or not guilty of a criminal act.

Some other important distinctions between the DMV and court proceedings and consequences include the following:

  • You have discretion whether or not to have a DMV hearing and whether or not to have an attorney present at said hearing; the court process demands that either you or your attorney be present at all scheduled hearings, including your arraignment in California criminal court.
  • A victory at a DMV hearing has no direct effect on your DUI court proceedings. The DMV hearing officer can only set aside the administrative action against your driving privilege. This decision is separate and/or independent from any criminal charge, sanction, penalty, or decision. On the other hand, when a driver has been acquitted of DUI charges in court, a suspension or revocation may be reversed if it is determined by the DMV that the court decision does, in fact, equal an acquittal on the charge of Vehicle Code 23152 (b) (driving with .08 or higher BAC).
  • If you lose your DMV hearing, you may have a renewed right to a hearing within one year of your arrest date when a DUI charge is dismissed or not filed by a District Attorney due to lack of evidence, or filed, but later dismissed by the court because of insufficient evidence.
  • A reduction of a DUI charge to reckless driving in the criminal court is independent from the administrative proceedings, and does not affect the driving privilege suspension.
4. How Do I Obtain a Restricted License after a First Time DUI in California?
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A restricted license enables you to drive during the course of your employment, and to and from work, school, and/or California DUI school.

The DMV will require you to file an SR22 form with them in order to obtain a restricted license or to fully reinstate your license following your suspension period. You may be required to maintain your SR22 with the California DMV for a period of 3-years from the date of having your license reinstated.

How soon you can get a restricted license depends on which suspension you suffer. With the DUI court-triggered suspension, you can get a restricted license right away. With the administrative suspension, you must wait 30 days from the start of the license suspension. See Vehicle Code 13353.7.5 If you suffer both suspensions, you still must wait 30 days from the start of the administrative suspension. See Vehicle Code 13353.3(c)6

If you have been arrested for a first offense DUI in California and agreed to take a chemical test, you have the possibility of applying for a restricted license after 30 days.

Unfortunately, if you face a first time DUI offense in California and refused to complete a chemical or blood test, you will face a tougher punishment. Specifically, you will face a one year license revocation with no chance of attaining a restricted license at any point during the 12 months.

Once the suspension period has terminated, you will be required to file an SR22 form with the DMV in order to have a reinstatement of your license.

Call Us For Help...
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If you or loved one is in need of help with a first license suspension and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

Our Nevada DUI defense lawyers are located in Las Vegas and Reno.

Legal References:

113352.  (a) The department shall immediately suspend or revoke the privilege of a person to operate a motor vehicle upon the receipt of an abstract of the record of a court showing that the person has been convicted of a violation of Vehicle Code 23152 (a) or (b) or Vehicle Code 23153, subdivision (a) of Section 23109, or Section 23109.1, or upon the receipt of a report of a judge of the juvenile court, a juvenile traffic hearing officer, or a referee of a juvenile court showing that the person has been found to have committed a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 or subdivision (a) of Section 23109 or Section 23109.1. If an offense specified in this section occurs in a vehicle defined in Section 15210, the suspension or revocation specified below shall apply to the noncommercial driving privilege. The commercial driving privilege shall be disqualified as specified in Sections 15300 to 15302, inclusive. For the purposes of this section, suspension or revocation shall be as follows: (1) Except as required under Section 13352.1 or 13352.4, upon a conviction or finding of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23536, the privilege shall be suspended for a period of six months. The privilege shall not be reinstated until the person gives proof of financial responsibility and gives proof satisfactory to the department of successful completion of a driving-under-the-influence program licensed pursuant to Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code described in subdivision (b) of Section 23538. If the court, as authorized under paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 23646, elects to order a person to enroll in, participate in, and complete either program described in subdivision (b) of Section 23542, the department shall require that program in lieu of the program described in subdivision (b) of Section 23538. For the purposes of this paragraph, enrollment in, participation in, and completion of an approved program shall be subsequent to the date of the current violation. Credit shall not be given to any program activities completed prior to the date of the current violation.

213353.2.  (a) The department shall immediately suspend the privilege of a person to operate a motor vehicle for any one of the following reasons:(1) The person was driving a motor vehicle when the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood. (2) The person was under 21 years of age and had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.01 percent or greater, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test, or other chemical test. (3) The person was driving a vehicle that requires a commercial driver's license when the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood. (4) The person was driving a motor vehicle when both of the following applied: (A) The person was on probation for a violation of Section 23152 or 23153. (B) The person had 0.01 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood, as measured by a preliminary alcohol screening test or other chemical test.

3 If you have the misfortune of getting a DUI conviction in court and an administrative suspension from the DMV, the total period of both suspensions cannot be longer than the longest individual suspension. So the total license suspension period would be just six month, not ten

413353.3. (a) An order of suspension of a person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle pursuant to Section 13353.2 shall become effective 30 days after the person is served with the notice pursuant to Section 13382 or 13388, or subdivision (b) of Section 13353.2. (b) The period of suspension of a person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle under Section 13353.2 is as follows:

(1) If the person has not been convicted of a separate violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23140, 23152, or 23153, or Section 191.5 or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of the Penal Code, the person has not been administratively determined to have refused chemical testing pursuant to Section 13353 or 13353.1, or the person has not been administratively determined to have been driving with an excessive concentration of alcohol pursuant to Section 13353.2 on a separate occasion, which offense or occurrence occurred within 10 years of the occasion in question, the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended for four months. (2) (A) If the person has been convicted of one or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23140, 23152, or 23153, or Section 191.5 or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of the Penal Code, the person has been administratively determined to have refused chemical testing pursuant to Section 13353 or 13353.1, or the person has been administratively determined to have been driving with an excessive concentration of alcohol pursuant to Section 13353.2 on a separate occasion, which offense or occasion occurred within 10 years of the occasion in question, the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be suspended for one year, except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C). (B) The one–year suspension pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall terminate if the person has been convicted of a violation arising out of the same occurrence and all of the following conditions are met: (i) The person is eligible for a restricted driver's license pursuant to Section 13352. (ii) The person installs an ignition interlock device as required in Section 13352 for that restricted driver's license. (iii) The person complies with all other applicable conditions of Section 13352 for a restricted driver's license.

513353.7.  (a) Subject to subdivision (c), if the person whose driving privilege has been suspended under Section 13353.2 has not been convicted of, or found to have committed, a separate violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of this code, or Section 191.5 or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of the Penal Code, and if the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle has not been suspended or revoked pursuant to Section 13353 or 13353.2 for an offense that occurred on a separate occasion within 10 years of the occasion in question and, if the person subsequently enrolls in a driving-under-the-influence program licensed under Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23538, that person, if 21 years of age or older at the time the offense occurred, may apply to the department for a restricted driver's license limited to travel to and from the activities required by the program and to and from and in the course of the person's employment. After receiving proof of enrollment in the program, and if the person has not been arrested subsequent to the offense for which the person's driving privilege has been suspended under Section 13353.2 for a violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of this code, or Section 191.5 or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of the Penal Code, and if the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle has not been suspended or revoked pursuant to Section 13353 or 13353.2 for an offense that occurred on a separate occasion, notwithstanding Section 13551, the department shall, after review pursuant to Section 13557, suspend the person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle for 30 days and then issue the person a restricted driver's license under the following conditions. (1) The program shall report any failure to participate in the program to the department and shall certify successful completion of the program to the department. (2) The person was 21 years of age or older at the time the offense occurred and gives proof of financial responsibility as defined in Section 16430. (3) The restriction shall be imposed for a period of five months.(4) If a person who has been issued a restricted license under this section fails at any time to participate in the program, the department shall suspend the restricted license immediately. The department shall give notice of the suspension under this paragraph in the same manner as prescribed in subdivision (b) of Section 13353.2 for the period specified in Section 13353.3, that is effective upon receipt by the person.

613353.3 (C) The one–year suspension pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall terminate after completion of a 90–day suspension period, and the person shall be eligible for a restricted license if the person has been convicted of a violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, arising out of the same occurrence, has no more than two prior alcohol–related convictions within 10 years, as specified pursuant to subparagraph (A). , and all of the following conditions are met:(i) The person satisfactorily provides, subsequent to the underlying violation date, proof satisfactory to the department of enrollment in a nine–month drivingunder–the–influence program licensed pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 11836) of Part 2 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code that consists of at least 60 hours of program activities, including education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions. (ii) The person agrees, as a condition of the restriction, to continue satisfactory participation in the program described in clause (i)., (iii) The person installs an ignition interlock device and submits the "Verification of Installation" form described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (h) of Section 13386.,(iv) The person agrees to maintain the ignition interlock device as required pursuant to subdivision (g) of Section 23575.(v) The person provides proof of financial responsibility, as defined in Section 16430, (vi) The person pays all license fees and any restriction fee required by the department, (vii) The person pays to the department a fee sufficient to cover the costs of administration of this paragraph, as determined by the department.

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