California’s DUI laws can be complex and confusing. In this section, our attorneys break down the rules and explain the process.
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How to get your license back after a DUI in California » How to get your license back after a DUI in California
Following a DUI conviction in California, drivers can get their license back after serving the entire length of the applicable suspension and successfully reinstating the license. The latter involves completing a DUI program, filing proof of financial responsibility with the DMV (e.g., a Form SR-22), and paying the DMV a license reissue fee.
Initiating reinstatement is not the same thing as challenging a license suspension. Reinstatement comes after a driver has completed his/her period of license suspension (and jail time if applicable) and allows a defendant to once again receive a valid California driver’s license.
Challenging a suspension means that a driver requests an administrative hearing with the DMV to dispute the agency’s decision to suspend the motorist’s driving privileges because of the DUI.
Note that the total length that a motorist’s driver’s license will be suspended for depends on:
How can a driver reinstate his/her license after a California DUI?
There are several steps that a motorist must take to reinstate his/her driver’s license following a DUI conviction. These include:
As to proof of financial responsibility, a driver typically performs this task by filing a Form SR-22 with the DMV. This is a form that the driver’s insurance company sends to the DMV after the motorist informs it of the DUI. The action may result in the insurer increasing the driver’s insurance rates.
Is reinstatement the same thing as challenging a Notice of Suspension?
Reinstatement is not the same thing as challenging a Notice of Suspension.
Following a DUI arrest, the arresting officer provides the driver with a “Notice of Suspension.” This is a document that notifies the motorist placed under arrest that:
A motorist does have the right to challenge this suspension by requesting a DMV administrative hearing. The driver, though, must make this request within 10 days from the date of the arrest.[iii]
If a DMV hearing takes place, the meeting is conducted at a DMV office and is run by a “hearing officer.” This officer is a DMV employee that typically has no legal background.[iv]
At a DMV hearing, the Department can go ahead and suspend a person’s license if it proves that:
Unlike at a trial for a DUI, the Department does not have to prove these issues “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The standard of proof at these hearings is a lesser standard known as “by a preponderance of the evidence.” The DMV satisfies this standard if it shows that the above issues are more likely than not to be true.
Is a DMV suspension the same thing as a court suspension?
A DMV suspension is a separate matter than a court suspension for a DUI.
As stated above, the DMV can suspend a person’s driver’s license following a DUI arrest. In addition, a court can order that a motorist’s license be suspended following a conviction for DUI. The two types of suspensions involve separate proceedings from one another.
A court suspension can only occur, though, if:
A jury will find a defendant guilty of the crime if it finds that:
How long is a DUI license suspension?
The length of a DUI license suspension will depend on:
For example, a suspension will be for a period of:
[iii] See same.
[v] See same.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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