WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR LICENSE AFTER A DUI ARREST IN CALIFORNIA?
What happens to your license in a DUI? A question we often get asked is, what will happen to my license? To be honest, the most confusing part of your DUI will be dealing with the DMV, in most cases. The fact that the DMV and the Court are separate, and each can impact driving privileges in some way, causes confusion. This flowchart might help explain the process and answer what happens to your license in a DUI in clear terms, step by step through the DMV process in a DUI case:
(Click image to enlarge. This image is copyright Miller & Associates, A Law Corporation, 2016).
When someone is arrested for DUI in California, they will be given a court date to appear for their criminal charges. However, under a separate proceeding, the DMV will decide whether or not to impose a standard punishment against a driver’s license at a hearing. What happens to your license in a DUI depends on this process.
Steps Related to a DMV Driver’s License Suspension from a DUI:
- ARREST DATE (Day 0) – License Taken, Pink 30-day Temporary License given to driver.
- Hearing requested? Continue to step 3. If not, continue to step 4.
- DMV REQUEST DEADLINE (Day 10) – Last day to request a hearing at the DMV Office of Driver Safety . Upon request of hearing, DMV will issue a new temporary license, extending the suspension date, set a date, time and DMV employee to handle the hearing, and share the police reports and other documents.
- TEMPORARY LICENSE ENDS (Day 30). If didn’t request hearing, driving privileges would stop on this day. Driving privileges are suspended for four months. See step 7 to see if there are any special situations, before you can drive again under a restriction.
- DMV HEARING (About Day 45). Hearing officer will mark each part of the documents as a separate exhibit, and hear defense objections based upon legal defenses, or factual defenses, or violations of procedure, and will exclude anything not proper if objected to. Hearing officer will listen to arguments based upon the documents left, and any expert witness testimony from the defense, and make a written decision at a later date, sent via mail.
- Win the DMV Hearing? (About Day 60). If so, no action is taken. The driver still has a full, valid license. Continue to step 15. If the hearing was lost, go to step 7.
- SPECIAL SITUATIONS: Was there a finding that the driver refused a test? Proceed to Step 8. Was the driver under age 21? Proceed to Step 9. Was the driver a commercial driver? Proceed to Step 10. Did the driver have a prior for a DUI? Proceed to Step 11. Was the driver on probation for a DUI? Proceed to Step 12. If none of the above, continue to Step 14.
- Driver Refused a Blood or Breath Test? A driver who refuses an evidence test of breath or blood will suffer a one-year driver’s license suspension. No restricted license is possible.
- Driver under age 21? The driver’s license will be suspended for one year. However, drivers under age 21 have the ability to apply for a “Critical Need Restricted License”, by filing an application for one by mail.
- Driver a Commercial Driver? A commercial driver who loses a DMV hearing will suffer a one-year driver’s license suspension. No restricted license is possible.
- Did the driver have a prior for a DUI? A driver who has one prior within 10 years for a DUI loses a DMV hearing will suffer a one-year driver’s license suspension. A restricted license is available for nine out of the 12 months (so, 3 months’ suspension plus 9 months restricted), if the driver submits an SR22 (proof of insurance), enrolls in a second offender alcohol school, installs an ignition interlock device in the vehicle, and pays $125. For a third, or fourth, the suspension period is longer, and no restricted license is possible.
- Was the driver on probation for a DUI? A driver who has one prior within 10 years for a DUI and who was on probation for their DUI conviction, and loses a DMV hearing will suffer a one-year driver’s license suspension based upon violation of the DUI probation. That suspension is concurrent with any other penalties for the newer case. A driver is not eligible for a restricted license during the one-year period.
- Apply for a restricted license? To do so, driver needs to submit an SR22 (proof of insurance), enroll in an alcohol school, and pay $125. If that’s done, continue to step 15. If not, continue to step 15.
- DMV SUSPENSION ENDS (Around day 150). To get a license back if you didn’t get a restricted license, you will need to pay a re-issuance fee.
- COURT OUTCOME. Court is a separate proceeding, independent of the DMV, but can affect a driver’s license as well.
- Was the Defendant Convicted of DUI? If convicted of a DUI, then the DMV will be notified. If so, continue to step 18. If not, continue to step 17.
- DISMISSAL OR REDUCTION OF DUI. If the case was reduced to a charge below a DUI as part of a DUI plea bargain, or if the case is dismissed, then have the prosecutor (District Attorney or other prosecutor) fill out a “Helmondollar” form which entitles you to a new DMV hearing. Proceed back to step 6.
- DMV Notified of Court Conviction. The DMV will enter two points against the driving record. The DMV will send a warning letter and issue a Six (6) Month Driving Restriction, which is concurrent to the DMV administrative proceedings already served above.
What Happens To Your License in a DUI? Contacting the DMV directly
 Driver or an attorney MUST contact the local DMV Office of Driver Safety for the county where the arrest took place within 10 days of the DUI arrest. There is only one Office for Orange County (in The City of Orange), one in San Diego for San Diego County, one in San Bernardino for both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, and there are four DMV hearing offices in Los Angeles County for Los Angeles DUI cases.
Contact our firm if you have questions about what happens to your license in a DUI.
Contact us to address what happens to your license in a DUI directly via phone or in person. We know how the DMV works, and have handled and won many DMV hearings for clients. We can help you save your driver’s license.