How to challenge a California DUI administrative license suspension

After an arrest for a California DUI, you cannot delay in requesting an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension.

First, you probably want to know how long a DMV administrative driver's license suspension lasts after a your first drunk driving arrest? Administrative driver's license suspension is in addition to any criminal conviction suspension and is generally four months.

It begins 30 days after your arrest and service of the pink sheet "Age 21 and Older - Administrative Suspension/Revocation Order and Temporary Driver License" unless you request an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension within 10 days. However, if you are under 21 years old, have a prior DUI or prior administrative suspension or refused to take a chemical test, it will result in a longer suspension.

Failure to contact the DMV within 10 days of the service of the pink sheet Administrative Suspension Order to set the hearing will result in a waiver of that hearing. Those hearings can be "in person" or telephonic.

Once the hearing is set, there can be a stay on any suspension pending the results of the hearing. It generally delays any suspension for 60 days, or until after receipt of the hearing results. Evidence that will be used at the hearing, including police reports and alcohol results, is made available prior to the hearing. Most hearings can be handled by your attorney and may not require your presence. All drivers arrested for drunk driving have the right to seek Department of Motor Vehicles administrative hearing review of any administrative suspension finding.

If you do have the four month administrative suspension imposed, you are notified by mail after the hearing when that suspension starts and ends. However, after 30 days from the start day, you are eligible for a restricted license for work and Court ordered programs. You will need to be enrolled in the DMV authorized DUI program, have an SR-22 insurance form on file with DMV, and go to the DMV and pay a $125 re-issue fee.

Administrative Hearing Issues

The DMV administrative hearing and suspension are separate from the criminal case; a conviction for DUI also triggers a separate suspension. It does not matter for this administrative suspension whether or not you resolved your case with a lesser charge.

The DMV reviews cases using a preponderance of the evidence standard. It reviews three issues for the standard first DUI offense alcohol administrative suspension for individuals 21 or older:

  • Did reasonable cause exist to believe the person was driving?
  • Was there a lawful arrest for a listed offense?
  • Was the person driving with a BAC of .08 percent or higher?

If you are arrested for drunk driving, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your criminal case as well as any pending administrative license suspension.

Time Is Important

An Attorney can handle your DUI and DMV issues without you present in most cases. Failure to contact the DMV within the 10 days will waive the right to a hearing to challenge the initial DUI administrative suspension. Setting that hearing not only allows you to challenge the suspension but delays any suspension and provides police reports and alcohol results usually before the Court date that are helpful in the handling of your case.

Keywords: DUI license suspension, administrative hearings