DMV License Suspension and Revocation

Arrest and Temporary LicenseAt the time of your alcohol related DUI arrest, your license will be confiscated by the officer and destroyed by DMV. You will also get a temporary license that allows you to continue driving for 30 days.

DMV Review v. Court ProcessThe Department of Motor Vehicles has the authority to issue penalties for drunk driving in a process completely separate from the process that occurs in the criminal courts. DMV does this through an Administrative Per Se process. After a DUI, if you do nothing, DMV will automatically suspend your license. However, drivers have a right to a hearing that determines whether a person's license will be suspended after citation for DUI. In order to exercise the right to a hearing, a request must be made within 10 days of the citation or notice. The DMV hearing process can be complicated and intimidating. A quality and experienced DUI defense attorney can deal with all of the details and formulate an effective defense.

Suspension of driving privileges means a person’s driver license is taken away for one year or less. Revocation means that the driving privilege is taken away for more than one year.

The rules pertaining to those drivers 21 years and older follow. Details on underage DUI can be seen at the end of this page.

License Suspension and RevocationUnder California law, someone arrested for DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) will have his/her license suspended by DMV if any of the following occur: a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or more for noncommercial drivers, 0.04% or more for commercial drivers, 0.01% or more for those driving on probation for DUI, or refusal to take a chemical blood alcohol level test.

Request for DMV Administrative Per Se HearingIt is critical to keep in mind that unless a request is made to DMV to review your case, your license will automatically be suspended/revoked after 30 days. As your attorney, I will contact DMV and handle all of the details, including requesting a stay on your license suspension and obtaining DMV evidence pertaining to your DUI arrest. After reviewing the facts of your case, I will represent you at the DMV hearing to argue against suspension of your license.

Possible DMV PenaltiesThe possible penalties that DMV can impose depend on what occurred during the arrest and the number of previous DUI convictions.

  • If you had a BAC (blood alcohol level) of 0.08% for noncommercial driver or 0.04% or more for commercial drivers, DMV can impose a 4 month suspension for a first DUI or one year suspension if you have a previous DUI offense in the preceding ten years.
  • If you had a BAC of 0.01% while on DUI probation, DMV can impose one year suspension.
  • If you refuse to submit to a BAC test and are on DUI probation, DMV can impose a one year suspension for a first offense (if on probation, a two year revocation); a two year revocation for a second offense within 10 years (if on probation, a three year revocation); or a three year revocation for three or more DUIs within 10 years.

Restricted License for First DUI ConvictionIf you have only one DUI conviction, you may be able to get a restricted noncommercial license if specific requirements are met, including enrollment in a DUI first offender course, furnishing proof of insurance, payment of a fee, and other criteria.

Driving Under the Influence When Under 21 Years of AgeDUI when younger than 21 is punished by a number of statutes. A brief summary is provided below. Click here for a detailed description.
  • Possession of alcohol in public is a misdemeanor punishable by community service up to 32 hours and a fine up to $250 for a first time offense and higher penalties for subsequent offenses.
  • Possession of alcohol in a vehicle is a misdemeanor punishable by jail up to 6 months, a fine up to $1000, and vehicle impoundment.
  • Purchase or consumption of alcohol in a bar or restaurant is also a misdemeanor punishable by community service up to 32 hours and a fine up to $250 for a first time offense and higher penalties for subsequent offenses.
  • Significantly, DMV is required to suspend a person's driving privileges for one year if convicted of these offenses.