A DMV Order of Set Aside is a document in which the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notifies you that you may resume driving following your driver’s license suspension or revocation. It literally means that any suspension has been “set aside.”
The order comes after you attend a DMV administrative hearing, which may be held for such things as
- a California DUI or
- the Department declaring you to be a negligent operator.1
A set aside order essentially clears your driving record from any period of suspension or revocation. This is critical because a tarnished record can lead to
- hikes in automobile insurance rates and
- lost employment opportunities.
Note that a set-aside order is different from an order of reinstatement. While reinstatement allows you to resume driving following a license suspension/revocation, it does not remove this period from your driving record. The result is that you may experience:
- an increase in insurance rates, and
- the potential of lost employment opportunities.
What is an Order of Set Aside?
A California DMV Order of Set Aside is an order of the Department that states you may officially resume driving after your driver’s license was suspended or revoked (which is different from you having a restricted license).
Note that there are many situations in which a State of California DMV office can suspend or revoke your driver’s license. For example, the Department may choose to do so after you:
- get a DUI arrest from law enforcement or a DUI conviction in criminal court,
- are determined to be a negligent operator,
- are found to be suffering from dementia, or
- cause an accident involving a serious injury or death.
No matter the specific reason, you are allowed to request an administrative hearing to challenge a DMV’s order of suspension or the revocation of driving privileges. This hearing is sometimes referred to as an “administrative per se hearing” in cases of driving under the influence (with a BAC of .08% or higher).
A DMV hearing officer conducts these DMV hearings. They are in charge of gathering evidence and ruling on decisions.
According to California Vehicle Code Section 14105a, the hearing officer shall render an official decision following the completion of the hearing. If the decision involves an Order of Set Aside, then you may return to driving. In some circumstances, you may have to renew your license and pay a reinstatement fee.2
What does “set aside” really mean?
Suppose a hearing officer issues a formal Order of Set Aside. In that case, they did not find any factual or legal basis for the original suspension/revocation of your California driver’s license.
This finding clears your driving record of any period of suspension/revocation. This is a good thing since a record of suspension or revocation can:
- cause an insurance company to increase rates of insurance, and
- lead an employer to deny you certain employment opportunities.3
Is a set side the same as reinstatement?
An order of reinstatement is similar to a set aside order in that it:
- is issued by a DMV hearing officer after an administrative hearing,
- is an order that ends any period of suspension/revocation, and
- allows you to resume driving.
There is a primary difference, though, between the two orders. With a reinstatement order, the hearing officer finds that any original suspension/revocation decision was justified.
This means that the period of suspension or revocation will remain on your driving record. A result is a potential of:
- increased insurance rates, and
- lost employment opportunities.
Note that following an administrative hearing, the hearing officer can issue an Order of Set Aside or reinstatement or may order the continuation of a period of suspension/revocation.4
What is the difference between a license suspension and a revocation?
A suspension of driving privileges is different than the revocation of the same.
A suspension is when the DMV:
- withholds or freezes your driving privileges, and
- does so for a defined period of time (usually from six months to four years).
Revocation, on the other hand, is the outright termination of your driving privileges. Termination means driving privileges are gone, or officially expired.
Note that California does not reinstate a revoked driver’s license. Rather, you must:
- apply for a brand-new license, and
- do so once the period of revocation is over.
This means that you must pass:
- a written driving test,
- a vision test, and
- a driving test in the field with a DMV instructor.
All test results have to be positive.
You will also be required to do the following to obtain a new license:
- take any required courses (such as Alcohol and Drug Education),
- provide the DMV with any required documentation (such as proof of insurance), and
- pay any applicable reissue, administrative, and court fees.5
- See California Vehicle Codes 14100–14112 CVC; 12810.5 VC; 23152 VC. Administrative Hearings, California DMV.
- See 14105 VC. See same.
- See, for example, Davenport v. Department of Motor Vehicles (
- See note 1. See also Mosier v. Department of Motor Vehicles (
- See also Driver’s License Application, California DMV; Reissue Fees, California DMV.