California DUI penalties certainly put defendants into tight spots.
On the one hand, your driver's license will be suspended if you are convicted of DUI. On the other hand, you also will be required to attend an in-person alcohol education program known as "DUI school" for anywhere from three to 30 months. But how can you travel to your DUI school classes if you are not allowed to drive?
(UPDATE 2019: Most drivers can continue driving without limitation following a DUI conviction if they get an ignition interlock device (IID) in their car. California Senate Bill 1046 (2019). Otherwise, they can get a restricted license, discussed below.)
The answer is a "restricted license." Many people convicted of DUI in California are eligible to receive a restricted license that allows them to drive only:
- To and from work,
- To and from school, and
- To and from court-ordered DUI education programs.
Restricted licenses are easiest to obtain for first-time DUI offenders. First-time DUI defendants are eligible to get a restricted license either immediately after their license is suspended by the court or thirty (30) days after it is suspended by the California DMV.
If this is your second DUI within a ten (10)-year period, you will have to wait ninety (90) days to receive a restricted license--and will have to install an ignition interlock device in your car as a condition of the restricted license.
Defendants facing their third DUI within 10 years will have the hardest time of all. They can obtain a restricted license as well--but only if they:
- Wait eighteen (18) months,
- Install an ignition interlock device, AND
- Attend the first twelve (12) months of an 18- or 30-month DUI school program.
In other words, defendants sentenced to a third or subsequent DUI will have to attend a year's worth of DUI school without the means to drive to it themselves. They will have no choice but to take public transportation or obtain rides from family or friends--or else risk violating their probation and/or being charged with driving on a suspended license.
Also, if you were driving a commercial vehicle at the time you picked up a DUI, you will not be eligible for a restricted license at all--and will have to find alternative transportation to DUI school.