If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) the California DMV will attempt to have your license suspended. This is due to what is known as an administrative per se violation. You must contact the DMV within ten (10) days to request a hearing. If you do not request a hearing with the DMV within ten (10) days you will lose your ability to have a hearing and your license may automatically go into suspension. If you choose to hire a DUI attorney to represent you, your attorney can request the hearing on your behalf. In fact, it often works to your advantage to have your attorney schedule the hearing because it may be possible to schedule it further out, which gives you more time to prepare.
Once the hearing is arranged with the DMV your attorney may conduct it on your behalf and you may or may not be asked to attend this hearing. It is important to understand that the goal of this hearing is to convince the DMV not to suspend your drivers license. However, it is not uncommon for a DUI attorney to use the hearing as an opportunity to gain further evidence about the case that could be helpful in court. In addition, the attorney may wish to subpoena the arresting officer to testify at the DMV hearing, which could lead to testimony revealing mistakes that were made or even poor DUI training, which could work to your benefit.
At the conclusion of the DMV hearing the DMV’s hearing officer will take your case into consideration and will later issue written findings. Typically, the results are mailed out in one (1) to thirty (30) days. If the DMV results are in your favor no license suspension will be imposed. However, it is important to understand that if your case goes to court and a DUI conviction is returned you may face a separate license suspension. If, on the other hand, the DMV does not rule in your favor, your license will go into suspension within days of receiving the notice.
License Confiscated at the Time of Arrest
At the time of a DUI arrest the officer will confiscate your license if you have it on you and will serve you with the DMV’s Notice of Suspension. The Notice of Suspension formally suspends the license, provides information on the DMV hearing, provides temporary driving privileges for thirty (30) days, and explains some aspects of the applicable laws.
Your license will be returned to you after the suspension or revocation, however, you will be charged a $125 reissue fee by the DMV and you will be required to submit proof of financial responsibility. If the DMV determines that there was no cause for suspension or revocation your drivers license will be issued or returned to you. It is important to understand that if you are arrested under the age of 21 your fines and license suspension may be different under the Zero Tolerance Law.
Drivers License Suspension after a DUI
Typically, within thirty (30) days of having your license suspended you can usually get a restricted drivers license. With a restricted drivers license you are allowed to travel to and from work and work related activities and to any court or DMV mandated alcohol programs. It is sometimes possible to get a restricted license right away, however, while the license is suspended you must obey the terms of the suspension. Driving with a suspended license in California is a criminal offense which can lead to jail time, a probation violation, and a longer drivers license suspension.
DUI of Drugs
It is important to understand that a DMV hearing takes place when faced with a DUI of alcohol. A DUI of alcohol takes place if your BAC is .08 or higher or if you test positive for any BAC level and are under the age of 21. Despite the fact that a DMV hearing does not take place in cases involving DUI of drugs (such as Marijuana DUI), if you are convicted in court the court conviction will likely trigger a drivers license suspension.