Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI) FAQ explained by DUI Attorneys

I’ve just been arrested for DUI. What happens now?

California law requires a police or California Highway Patrol officer to immediately forward a copy of a completed Notice of Suspension or Revocation (DMV Form DS 367) and any driver’s license seized from the person arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) along with a sworn officer’s report. A DUI specialist working for the DMV will automatically conduct a review of the Notice of Suspension or Revocation which is to include a review of the police or California Highway Patrol officer’s report and any breath or blood test results.

Those arrested in California for DUI have the right to request a hearing from the DMV within ten (10) days of receipt of the Notice of Suspension or Revocation Order which is usually received the same date as the DUI arrest. If the suspension or revocation is upheld by the Department of Motor Vehicles’ DUI specialist following the administrative review process, the driver will be entitled to a hearing before a DMV hearing officer to contest the suspension or revocation.

If the administrative review shows there is no basis for the suspension or revocation, the DMV will set aside the administrative license suspension action stemming from the DUI arrest. Your attorney and/or you will be notified by the DMV in writing if the suspension or revocation is set aside following the administrative review. Otherwise, a hearing will be scheduled by the DMV in person or by telephone. At the hearing, your attorney and/or you will be able to challenge the evidence giving rise to the driver’s license suspension.

The police or California Highway Patrol officer seized my driver license at the time of my arrest for driving under the influence. How do I get my license back?

A California driver’s license will be returned at the end of the suspension or revocation provided the licensee pays a $125 reissue fee to the DMV and files proof of financial responsibility. Additionally, a person arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) will have their driver’s license returned prior to the end of any suspension if the licensee is eligible and applies for a restricted driver’s license prior to the completion of the suspension. In order to obtain a restricted driver’s license, the licensee must enroll in an appropriate and approved driving under the influence (DUI) school, pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV, and file proof of financial responsibility.

Most drivers pay their insurance company to provide the required proof of financial responsibility to the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the driver’s insurance company continues to insure the licensee, an increase of premium and fee for filing the SR-22 form with the DMV can be anticipated.

The reissue fee is $100 if the driver was under the age of 21 and was suspended under the Zero Tolerance Law (no driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in the system) pursuant to Vehicle Code §23136, §13353.1, §13388, and §13392. If it is determined that there was no cause for the suspension or revocation, the license will be issued or returned to the licensee.

The police or California Highway Patrol officer issued me an Order of Suspension and Temporary License. What am I supposed to do with this document?

A driver issued an order of Suspension and Temporary license following an arrest by a police or California Highway Patrol officer for driving under the influence (DUI) may drive for thirty (30) days from the date it was issued, provided the licensee’s California driver license was not expired, suspended, or revoked for some reason other than the DUI arrest giving rise to the present Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) action.

The Notice of Suspension that the police or California Highway Patrol officer gave me at the time of my arrest states I have ten days to request an administrative DMV hearing. What is the purpose of this hearing and what can it do for me?

A hearing is the licensee’s opportunity to demonstrate that the evidence collected by the police or California Highway Patrol officer fails to establish by the requisite preponderance of the evidence standard (more likely than not) that the Department of Motor Vehicles is justified in imposing a driver license suspension or revocation.

For how long will my driving privilege be suspended if I took the chemical test?

If the licensee was 21 years of age or older and took a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test and the results established a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% BAC or more:

  • A first offense will result in a four (4) month suspension
  • A second or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a one (1) year driver suspension

If the licensee is under 21 year of age, took a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test, and the results showed 0.01% BAC or more, the driving privilege will be suspended for one (1) year. No restricted license is available. However a hardship license may be available, but only in cases of extreme documented hardship.

Do I need to have had a DMV hearing in order to obtain a restricted license to drive to and from work, school, or in the course of my employment?

No. A request for a restricted license cannot be considered by the Hearing Officer at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hearing. A person who has had a driving under the influence (DUI) action sustained may apply for a restricted license to drive to and from work at any DMV field office.

The police or California Highway Patrol officer stated I refused to take a chemical test. What does this mean?

A driver is required by California law (California Vehicle Code section 23612) to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol and/or drug content of their blood. A refusal to take a chemical test occurs if the licensee did not submit to or complete a breath or blood test after being requested to do so by a police or California Highway Patrol officer following a lawful arrest for driving under the influence (DUI).

As of January 1999, a urine test is no longer available unless:

  • The officer suspects you were driving under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, or
  • Both the blood or breath tests are not available, or
  • You are a hemophiliac, or
  • You are taking anticoagulant medication in conjunction with a heart condition

How long will my driving privilege be suspended if I did not take a chemical test?

If a person is 21 years or older at the time of a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest and refused or failed to complete a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test:

  • A first offense will result in a one (1) year suspension
  • A second offense within ten (10) years under the present 2008 law will result in a two (2) year revocation
  • A third or subsequent offense within ten (10) years will result in a three (3) year revocation

If you were under 21 years of age at the time of being detained or arrested by a police or California Highway Patrol officer and you refused or failed to complete a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test:

  • A first offense will result in a one (1) year suspension
  • A second offense within ten (10) years under the present law (2008) will result in a two (2) year revocation
  • A third or subsequent offense within ten (10) years under the present law (2008) will result in a three (3) year revocation

How is the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspension or revocation for a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest different from the suspension or revocation following my conviction in criminal court?

The Department of Motor Vehicles driver license suspension or revocation is an administrative action taken against a person arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) directed at the driving privilege only. The DMV suspension or revocation following a criminal conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in court is a separate basis in addition to jail, probation, fine, and/or other criminal penalties imposed by a criminal court. Furthermore, the Department of Motor Vehicles will take separate and additional license suspension action against a person’s driver license following a criminal conviction, even if a previous suspension has been imposed administratively.

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Contact Devermont & Devermont and we will provide you with the information you need to understand your California DUI arrest. We will provide a complimentary evaluation and what you need to know to resolve your California DUI case.

429 Santa Monica Blvd. #210
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel. (310) 393-0308


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