Restricted License in California – What are the rules?

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Restricted License in California – What are the rules?

Restricted License in California – What are the rules?

DUI California DMV
When you are arrested for a DUI, the police officer gives you a temporary license, after taking away your physical driver’s license. You would not need a restricted license after arrest, as you the temporary license is a full license, with all driving privileges, for 30 days.
Note that you must contact the DMV within 10 days and request a hearing to continue to drive beyond the 30 days without the automatic suspension after 30 days.  If you hire an experienced DUI lawyer, that attorney will handle that for you.  The DMV will then issue a new temporary license, extending your right to drive, and schedule a hearing to see if they can prove the three issues at a DMV hearing.

You can only get a restricted license once your license is actually suspended.

For DUI cases, where a restricted license is available (rather than CA driver’s license suspensions for other issues, like unpaid child support, a warrant for a missed court date, or for medical reasons), your license can only be suspended in two ways.  Those two ways are by the DMV, or as a result of a court conviction for DUI.

DMV Driver’s License Suspensions

If your license was suspended by the DMV, that means that one of these situations happened:
  1. You never asked for a DMV hearing in the first place; or
  2. You lost a DMV hearing.
If you win a DMV hearing, you can immediately apply for a no fee driver’s license at any DMV office.
Upon losing a hearing, or not requesting a hearing, the DMV will suspend your license for 4 months.  Before you can reapply for your California driving privileges, you have to wait the suspension period of one month (30 days) and then do the following three things:
  1. Enroll in an approved alcohol school;
  2. File an SR-22 proof of insurance; and
  3. Pay a fee of $125.

Once you do that, you will be able to drive under the restriction.

Court Triggered Driver’s License Suspensions

Once the DMV is notified by the court that you pled guilty or no contest to a DUI, the DMV will send you a letter, allowing you to have a restricted license for another 6 months.  If you don’t already have a restricted license by following the steps above, then you will need to follow the three steps above to get a  license reinstated.  The court will never mention this to you — the DMV automatically adds additional punishments upon being notified of the conviction.

The law authorizing a restricted license in California

The law authorizing a restricted license is contained in CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE § 13352.4.  That section of the Vehicle Code  in california states as follows:

Section 13352.4:

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (h), the department shall issue a restricted driver’s license to a person whose driver’s license was suspended under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1, if the person meets all of the following requirements:

(1)Submits proof satisfactory to the department of enrollment in, or completion of, a driving-under-the-influence program licensed pursuant to Section 11836 of the Health and Safety Code, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23538.

(2)Submits proof of financial responsibility, as defined in Section 16430.

(3)Pays all applicable reinstatement or reissue fees and any restriction fee required by the department.

(b) The restriction of the driving privilege shall become effective when the department receives all of the documents and fees required under subdivision (a) and shall remain in effect until the final day of the original suspension imposed under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1, or until the date all reinstatement requirements described in Section 13352 or Section 13352.1 have been met, whichever date is later, and may include credit for any suspension period served under subdivision © of Section 13353.3.

( c ) The restriction of the driving privilege shall be limited to the hours necessary for driving to and from the person’s place of employment, driving during the course of employment, and driving to and from activities required in the driving-under-the-influence program.

(d) Whenever the driving privilege is restricted under this section, proof of financial responsibility, as defined in Section 16430, shall be maintained for three years. If the person does not maintain that proof of financial responsibility at any time during the restriction, the driving privilege shall be suspended until the proof required under Section 16484 is received by the department.

(e) For the purposes of this section, enrollment, participation, and completion of an approved program shall be subsequent to the date of the current violation. Credit may not be given to a program activity completed prior to the date of the current violation.

(f) The department shall terminate the restriction issued under this section and shall suspend the privilege to operate a motor vehicle pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1 immediately upon receipt of notification from the driving-under-the-influence program that the person has failed to comply with the program requirements. The privilege shall remain suspended until the final day of the original suspension imposed under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1, or until the date all reinstatement requirements described in Section 13352 or Section 13352.1 have been met, whichever date is later.

(g) The holder of a commercial driver’s license who was operating a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210, at the time of a violation that resulted in a suspension or revocation of the person’s noncommercial driving privilege under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352 or Section 13352.1 is not eligible for the restricted driver’s license authorized under this section.

(h) If, upon conviction, the court has made the determination, as authorized under subdivision (d) of Section 23536 or paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 23538, to disallow the issuance of a restricted driver’s license, the department may not issue a restricted driver’s license under this section.

What are the limits of a license restriction?

A restricted license allows you to drive only for the following:
  1. driving to and from work,
  2. for work related purposes during the work day;
  3. and to and from the alcohol school you are ordered to attend.

That’s it.  If you are stopped and asked, you must fit one of the categories above, or you are considered to be driving on a suspended license.

What are the best strategies for someone with a restricted license?

Since you are limited to driving to and from work, and to and from the alcohol school, that limits your options, but also creates  opportunities to drive and still meet your restriction.
Remember that you will have a full (unrestricted) license back upon completion of the alcohol school.  But as long as you are driving under the restriction, you must match your driving to what is allowed, even if statistics show that most people drive anyway for reasons not allowed to
If you use public transportation, rides from friends or family, a bicycle, or Uber or Lyft, you will always be safe.  But keep in mind the following strategies for driving to and from work, and to and from the alcohol program:

Restricted License To and From Work:

I have learned that certain DUI lawyers recommend you get cheap cards that say you’re a realtor, and then claim you were driving looking at neighborhoods, which means you are driving “for work” even if out late at night.  I don’t recommend that, as that seems potentially problematic to me.
The restriction also allows “driving during the work day, for work purposes”.  So if the office has you get lunch, or run a work related errand, or make a delivery, and something else you need is next door to that, you are not in violation.
If you drive your child to school and then go to work, you are still going “to work”.  Likewise, if you are driving home from work and stop on the way, for any reason, you are driving “from work” or “to home” at the two legs of that trip.

Restricted License To and From Your Alcohol School:

The restriction also allows a restricted license to drive to and from the alcohol school you must attend (this is not in the code but is created by caselaw).
Under the structure of alcohol schools in California, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) classes are a component of each alcohol school’s program.  If you drive to your family’s home, and then to an AA class, or from work to your class, and then to the grocery store and then home, that is still “to or from educational classes” or “to and from work” at each leg of the journey.
There are AA classes 7 days a week and almost 24 hours a day in Southern California, so you may want to print out a list and keep it in your car.  You can find AA classes at aa.org.
Be careful what you state your driving purpose is when stopped by police.  Of course, this all depends on proof.  The primary proof that would be used against you, is your statements.  So if asked when stopped by a police officer, “where are you heading to?”, or “where are you coming from?”, you must state that you are coming from work, home, or an alcohol school or AA class.  Even better if you can prove that, and if escalated to a court hearing, you may have to.

Contact Us for Questions

If you have questions about restricted license rules in California, please contact us.  We are happy to help and advise you regarding the entire process.

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