DMV Information and Penalties for a DUI


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DMV Information and Penalties for a DUI

DMV Information and Penalties for a DUI

You may have been served by a notice from the DMV after an arrest for DUI, or have received a letter in the mail from the DMV advising you of a potential suspension and of your right to a hearing to contest the suspension.

As most know, the California Department of Motor Vehicles is famous for inefficiency and incompetence, mainly due to the fact that it’s a huge bureaucracy.  The notices are even a sign of that – they are full of fine print and legalese and often confuse people more than it helps you.


The division of the DMV responsible for the “Administrative Per Se” suspension of licenses is the DMV’s Drivers Safety Office (DSO), with branch offices located around the state, including here in Orange County, in The City of Orange, where it has jurisdiction over all DUI and other suspension cases in Orange County.  You would need to call (714) 703-2511 for any cases in Orange County to request your hearing from the DMV hearing offices in Orange.

It is at these offices that all hearings will take place, handled over by a “DMV hearing officer” — a DMV employee who is not a judge or an attorney, but has no legal training (only a high school education is required) who will serve as both prosecutor and judge for the case. Without an attorney experienced in such hearings, the chances of obtaining a “set-aside” of the suspension are not good.

We do have excellent results for our clients for DMV hearings, and we have a separate page on DUI defenses to win a DMV hearing, which are based upon our experience handling cases for clients.

DMV Penalties for a DUI – will the DMV suspend my license, and if so, for how long?

For a first time DUI case, if you do not request a hearing, or if you lose the hearing, what the DMV can do to you by law is the same:  You will have a suspension from 30 days to 10 months.

That can be converted to a restricted license if you attend an alcohol school, file an SR-22, and pay a re-issuance fee.  A restricted license still keeps a 30 day suspension, but converts the remainder to a

The length of the restriction depends on how long you have to attend alcohol school, which in turn depends on how high your blood alcohol level is, and your age.  There is an Under 21 alcohol school, and a 3 month alcohol program, a 6 month alcohol program, and a 9 month alcohol program, which admits people based upon alcohol level at the time of their arrest.

DMV Medical Suspensions

The DMV will also suspend and allow a hearing when there is a suspension for medical reasons, or a loss of consciousness, a seizure, or a chronic medical problem that makes driving unsafe.  The key to these types of hearing is a good medical evaluation by someone highly qualified in the area of medicine at issue, and present quality evidence to the DMV to justify that the driver or license holder is safe to drive.

DMV Resources and Information:

The following resources will provide information about the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the laws that largely govern their responsibilities: the California Vehicle Code.

California DMV
Home page of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Driver’s License
General information about about driver’s licenses.

Guide to the DMV
Unofficial website providing plain-English information about the DMV and its services.

DUI Suspensions
The DMV’s summary of provisions for administrative (“APS”) suspensions and restrictions of licenses for drunk driving; also included is information about “negligent operator” point-count suspensions

California DUI Guides: The DMV
Links to various resources concerning the Department of Motor Vehicles.

DMV Office Locations
Address, telephones and maps for DMV field offices statewide.

Download Department of Motor Vehicle forms online, including Driver Safety forms.

Vehicle Code
Online access to the entire indexed California Vehicle Code.

Download such DMV publications as the “California Driver Handbook” online.

Administrative Hearings
Information from the Department of Motor Vehicles about challenging the officer’s confiscation and suspension of your license.

The Department of Motor Vehicle’s answers to frequently-asked questions about DUI license suspensions.

Get a Copy of Your California DMV Record
The Department of Motor Vehicles (California DMV) keeps your driving record for about ten years. You can obtain a copy of your California driving record by following the instructions on this site.

California Vehicle Code
A guide to further links to websites relating to the California Vehicle Code.

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