Drivers who have been arrested for their first DUI are always concerned whether their driver’s license will be suspended. Understanding the license suspension process for a first DUI is very important in order to do things necessary immediately to challenge, delay and minimize the impact of any suspension. There are potentially 2 different suspensions that could take place, the administrative DMV pink sheet Notice of Suspension given to you when arrested or cited for being .08 BA or more and there is a second 6-month criminal case suspension for a first DUI conviction.
Most first DUI cases for individuals 21 and over with a Blood Alcohol (BA) level of .08 or more will end up with a suspended license but it can be reinstated. By contacting a DUI Defense Attorney right away, you can have your questions answered, the DMV and Criminal process explained, as well as have the immediate action taken that is required to challenge and delay the administrative suspension so you can complete the prerequisites to immediately get a driving privilege back on day one of the suspension if it happens.
The most common administrative suspension the Department of Motor Vehicles takes is for a person 21 or over who is arrested for a first DUI and is .08 BA or more – (a Restricted license is immediately available if prerequisites are completed.) Other possible administrative DMV suspensions are imposed for Refusals and under age 21 DUI Drivers. If you are found to have refused to take a chemical test, there is a mandatory 1-year suspension (no restriction available) and individuals under age 21 with .01 BA or more also face a 1-year suspension – (a critical need restriction may be available.) Administrative suspensions are separate from the criminal case.
When you are arrested or cited for DUI you are given a pink sheet Notice of Suspension and Temporary License. It advises you the DMV will suspend your license for 4 months for being .08 BA or more. This suspension will start in 30 days unless you call DMV within 10 days of the arrest/cite and set an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension. Hearings are usually then set 60-90 days later. The suspension will not start until after the DMV hearing officer reviews the evidence at the hearing and makes a finding concerning the suspension. If you do not call DMV to request a hearing within 10 days, you waive the right to a hearing and any suspension will start in 30 days.
The admin suspension can be cured on the first day of suspension so you can drive anywhere anytime a vehicle with the IID for 4 months if you have on file with DMV:
- Proof of DUI Program enrollment;
- SR 22 proof of insurance from your insurance company;
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation certificate for your vehicle; and
- Pay a reissue fee to the DMV.
Getting in the DUI program to be able to get a restricted license after suspension may take weeks and should be done before the anticipated suspension date otherwise you will be delayed getting a restricted license. If you do not want the IID, then you will have to wait 30 days with no driving, then apply for a license restricted to and from and in the course of your employment for 5 additional months. You will still need proof of DUI Program, SR 22 insurance and pay a reissue fee to get the restricted work-only license. The last alternative is to reinstate your license after 4 months of no driving, file an SR22 and pay a reissue fee to DMV.
First offense DUI suspension upon criminal conviction
If you are convicted of any of the California DUI sections Vehicle Code (VC) 23152, it triggers a 6 months suspension that can run concurrently with the 4 month DMV Administrative suspension. The conviction suspension is also curable with the exact same requirements as the DMV administrative suspension – proof of DUI program enrollment, SR22 Insurance, IID and pay a DMV reissue fee to drive anywhere anytime for 6 months but only the IID vehicle. The work-only restriction for the conviction is for 12 months if no IID. The last alternative is to not drive for 6 months, do the DUI Program, file SR 22, and pay reissue fee. Lesser charges for first DUI offenses like “Wet Reckless” (VC 23103(a) per VC 23103.5) do not trigger an additional criminal conviction suspension.
Minimizing license suspension penalties
Having a suspended license means you will need to figure out how to get to work, run errands, get to the gym and pick up your kids after school. Preparing for this and minimizing the suspension time can be critical. By setting the administrative DMV hearing for the administrative suspension within 10 days of your arrest/cite, your license will remain valid for a couple of months longer while you do the things that will allow you to immediately get a license if the suspension is imposed. This will also allow you to coordinate the administrative action with any criminal suspension.