Introduction

People arrested for driving under the influence in California face multiple challenges and potential punishments.  The most immediate consequences of a DUI arrest is a driver’s license suspension. Living in Los Angeles and Orange County requires being able to drive to support themselves or to attend school.

A DUI arrest triggers legal action from the California DMV and a criminal case.  The California DMV will determine if your driving privileges should be suspended while the criminal prosecutor will determine the consequences of a DUI conviction. 

After an arrest for a DUI, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) will be notified by the arresting police officer that you were arrested for DUI.  Generally, the DMV will suspend a person’s driving privileges immediately unless an Administrative per Se hearing is requested. The length of a driving license suspension will depend on your age, criminal history and other factors.  In certain cases, restricted driving licenses are available.

This article will discuss the length of a driver’s license suspension from a DUI arrest in California.  In addition, general information on defending against a loss of driving privileges and reinstating driving privileges can be found below.  Information for misdemeanor or felony DUI case can be found on my other article located HERE

When does my driving privilege suspension begin?

After a DUI arrest, the police officer will take your driver’s license and provide you a pink colored DS367 form.  This pink DS367 serves as a “temporary” driver’s license for 30 days unless an APS hearing is requested.  If an APS hearing is requested, your driving privileges continue until a decision is made by the DMV.  The length of an APS hearing will depend on the legal rights you choose to exercise.  Generally, exercising your legal rights will result in your driving privilege being extended for two to three months

The pink DS367 looks like the image below.  The area highlighted by the yellow box informs you of the 10 calendar day requirement to schedule a DMV APS hearing.

Driving privileges after a DUI arrest are suspended if a DMV hearing officer determines that you were driving with a blood alcohol content of greater than 0.08 or you refused to comply with a lawful request for a blood alcohol sample.

Once arrested, a driver or their attorney must contact the California DMV Safety Office responsible for their case within 10 calendar days to contest their driver’s license suspension.  Failure to contact the driver safety on time will result in an immediate suspension of driving privileges.

In the Los Angeles and Orange County area, the driver safety offices are located in Covina, El Segundo, Commerce and the City of Orange.  It is always a prudent practice to fax a confirmation of an APS hearing request.  Once an APS suspension hearing date is set, a copy of the police report and other related DMV paperwork is sent to you or your attorney.  Depending on the content of the police report, additional time may be required for further investigation of the case to obtain videos, audio recordings or other photos to assist with your case.  Additional time can also be requested if police officer’s need to be subpoenaed and ordered to come to your DMV hearing. 

Generally speaking, a thorough investigation of your case will cause a DMV APS hearing to be set at least two months from the date of your arrest, which will allow you to legally drive for those two months.

The contact information for California Driver Safety Offices in the Los Angeles and Orange County is listed below:

Covina
1365 N. Grand Ave., Suite 101, 91724-4048

Phone (626) 974-7137
Fax (626) 974-7118

City of Commerce
5801 E. Slauson Avenue, Suite 250, 90040-3050

Phone (323) 724-4000
Fax (323) 724-9262

City of Orange
790 The City Drive, Suite 420, 92868-4941

Phone (714) 703-2511
Fax (714) 703-2526

El Segundo
390 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 2075, 90245-4470

Phone (310) 615-3500
Fax (310) 615-3581

The length of a driving privilege suspension is governed by California Vehicle Code §§13553, 13353.1 and 13353.3. The length of a driving suspension in California for a DUI arrest depends on the following facts in your case.  They are:

  • Whether you are a minor or an adult
  • The DUI crime you are charged with
  • Whether you have a previous history involving DUI’s
  • Whether someone was injured
  • Whether you are on probation
  • Whether you refused to accept and complete a breath or blood test when demanded by a police officer.
REASON FOR DUI ARREST One DUI within 10 years Second DUI within 10 years Third DUI within 10 years
Driving with a blood alcohol of greater than 0.08% VC §23152(b) or VC §23153(b) Four months driver’s license suspension. After 30 days, a restricted license can be requested One year driver’s license suspension with an ignition interlock restriction after 90 days One year driver’s license suspension with a IID restriction after 180 days
Refusal to submit to breath or blood chemical test under VC §23577 One year driver’s license suspension. No restricted license available Two year driver’s license suspension. No restricted license available Three year driver’s license suspension with no restricted license available
Commercial driver driving with a blood alcohol level of greater than 0.04% VC §23152(d) Four months driver’s license suspension and after 30 days, a restricted license can be requested One year driver’s license suspension with an ignition interlock restriction after 90 days One year driver’s license suspension with a IID restriction after 180 days
DUI arrest if under the age of 21 with a Blood Alcohol Content of more than 0.01% VC §23136 One year driver’s license suspension. After 30 days, a “critical need” exception can be requested One year driver’s license suspension. No exception for critical needs One year driver’s lexception for critical needs

Obtaining a restricted license after your license suspension period has begun

For eligible drivers over the age of 21, a restricted license allows a person to drive to and from activities of a DUI alcohol education program and to activities associated with their employment under VC §13353.7.  The drawback to a restricted license is that it increases the length of the driving privilege suspension period.

In my experience, the most common DUI offense is a first time DUI for someone over the age of 21 under VC §23152(a) or VC §23152(b).  A person with a first time DUI is allowed to request a restricted license after 30 days.   However, obtaining a restricted license increases the suspension period two months to a total of six months.

Drivers under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol of greater than 0.01 and have not had previous DUI convictions or DMV actions can apply for a “critical need” restricted license. To request a critical need restricted license, the request and evidence must satisfy the requirements of VC §13353.8. The form for a critical need to drive petition can be found on the DMV website as form number DS-694.

To obtain a restricted license, a driver must do all of the following:

  • Enroll themselves in a minimum 3 month (AB541) drinking driver program
  • Show proof of financial responsibility. Usually shown with a SR-22 certificate of insurance
  • Have no new DUI arrests
  • In some cases, an ignition interlock device is required to be required on vehicles you own or drive

Defending your driving privilege at a DMV APS Hearing

In every DUI case, the following questions apply to both the criminal case and the DMV administrative process.  Defending your driving privilege at the DMV APS hearing revolves around the following questions:

  • Was there sufficient legal cause to stop you and initiate a DUI investigation?
  • Did the police officer see you driving? Identification of a driver is an issue when people are passed out, or the suspicious driving is not seen by the police officer, but a member of the public.
  • Is the DS-367 form complete? Can legal objections be made to the admission of any evidence?
  • Do officers or other witnesses need to be subpoenaed to testify to your benefit?
  • Does video or audio evidence need to be subpoenaed from the arresting police officer or other witnesses to prove your defense?
  • Do the observations by the police officer show the effects of alcohol?
  • Whether the blood result shows your blood alcohol was above 0.08% at the time of driving. This challenge occurs when alcohol tests are done well after you were stopped by the police or your blood alcohol was rising.
  • Whether implied consent laws under VC 23612(a) were followed and whether any blood draw was legally administered
  • If the investigating officer provided the refusal admonition properly under VC 23612.

California DMV Driving Privilege Defense Considerations Flowchart

In every police investigation, it is important to consider the interaction of evidence and the impact of the law.

What happens if I am stopped by police while my driving privilege is suspended by the DMV?

Driving while your license is suspended due to a DUI related incident can result in an additional criminal charge of driving on a suspended or revoked license under VC §14601.5 which carries a potential jail sentence of up to six months, significant fines and probation.

CONCLUSION

Every DUI arrest carries significant punishments in the form of criminal conviction, fines, fees and driving privilege suspension.  If you want to learn more about your options to defend your freedom and ability to drive, please call Long Beach Criminal Lawyer at 562-304-5121 for a consultation.