Got a DUI? Here’s What You Need to Know About a Notice of Suspension

A police officer takes your driver’s license when he arrests you for DUI in California. The officer gives you a Notice of Suspension. The Notice of Suspension acts like a temporary driver’s license. You may drive for 30 days using the Notice of Suspension.

However, if you do not request a hearing from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within ten days of your arrest, the DMV automatically suspends your driver’s license. 

Therefore the most important thing you need to know about a Notice of Suspension is to request a DMV license suspension hearing known as an APS hearing immediately after being arrested for DUI. 

Then, you might want to seek legal advice from a California DUI defense lawyer. You have the right to legal counsel at a DMV administrative hearing. Having an experienced DUI attorney handle the hearing could improve your chance of avoiding a suspended or revoked driver’s license after a DUI arrest.

How Long Will I Lose My Driving Privileges After a DUI Arrest in California?

In 1990, the Admin Per Se (APS) program began in California to deter driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drivers face an administrative driver’s license suspension if they:

  • Have a BAC of .08% or higher while driving a non-commercial motor vehicle
  • Are under 21 years of age with a BAC of .01% while operating a motor vehicle
  • Have a BAC of .04% or higher while driving a commercial motor vehicle
  • You refuse to submit to chemical testing, including a blood test or breath test 

 The DMV suspends your driving privileges for four months for a first-time DUI arrest. If you are arrested on a DUI charge again within ten years, the license suspension period increases to one year.

Furthermore, suppose you are on DUI probation and are arrested for driving under the influence with a BAC of .01% or more. In that case, the DMV imposes a concurrent one-year suspension for the violation of DUI probation. 

Refusal to take a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) or other chemical tests while on DUI probation, you face additional DMV administrative penalties. If the DUI convictions were under California Vehicle Code §§23152 or 23153, the DMV would impose:

  • First offense – A one-year driver’s license suspension or two-year revocation period if you are on DUI probation
  • Second offense with ten years of another violation of DUI – A two or three-year revocation of your driving privileges
  • Third or subsequent offense with ten years of any of the above convictions, violations, or separate administrative decisions – A three-year revocation of driving privileges

After your driver’s license suspension, you can reinstate your driving privilege. However, you must meet specific criteria and pay all applicable fees and costs to reinstate your driver’s license after DUI suspension in California. 

How Do I Reinstate My Driver’s License After a DUI Arrest in California? 

You must wait until after the DMV suspension or revocation to reinstate your driving privileges. For license reinstatement, you must:

  • Pay a $125 reinstatement fee to the DMV
  • Provide proof of insurance (SR-22 form) or another acceptable form of financial responsibility (i.e., surety bond, $35,000 cash deposit, or self-insurer certificate)
  • Maintain SR-22 insurance or proof of financial responsibility for three years

It is important to note that the DMV suspending your license is different from judges suspending or revoking driving privileges in DUI cases. The DMV administrative procedure is separate from any actions taken by criminal court judges after a DUI conviction. 

A judge may also suspend your driving privileges as part of a DUI sentence. In addition, the judge could impose longer suspension or revocation periods. In some cases, a judge revokes driving privileges permanently. 

Can I Get a Restricted Driver’s License if the DMV Suspends My Driving Privileges?

Yes, you may be eligible to get a restricted driver’s license. There are two types of restricted driver’s licenses in California. 

Restricted Driver’s License for Work and DUI School

You may drive to and from work, during the course of employment, and to and from DUI school. To be eligible for a restricted driver’s license:

  • Not have a prior DUI offense (this is your first DUI)
  • Have completed a chemical DUI test for BAC levels
  • You are 21 years old or older
  • Your BAC was .08% or higher for a non-commercial motor vehicle OR .04% or higher for a commercial motor vehicle
  • Your driving privileges have not been revoked or suspended for another reason

If you meet the eligibility requirements, to receive a work/DUI school restricted driver’s license, you must:

  • Provide proof of enrollment in DUI school
  • Pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV
  • File proof of SR-22 or financial responsibility 
  • Wait for the end of the 30-day suspension period from the suspension date

Restricted Driver’s License With Ignition Interlock Device 

The requirements to be eligible for an IID restricted driver’s license are almost identical to the work/DUI school restricted license requirements. However, this does not need to be your first DUI offense. The requirements are:

  • You completed a chemical DUI test for BAC levels
  • You are 21 years old or older
  • Your BAC was .08% or higher for a non-commercial motor vehicle; .04% or higher for a commercial motor vehicle; OR, .01% while on DUI probation
  • Your driving privileges have not been revoked or suspended for another reason

If you meet the eligibility requirements, to receive an IID restricted driver’s license, you must:

  • Provide proof of enrollment in DUI school
  • Pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV
  • File proof of SR-22 or financial responsibility 
  • Install an approved ignition interlock device and provide verification of IID installation

An IID restricted driver’s license does not require you to wait for the 30-day suspension period to end before applying for a restricted driver’s license. Also, you are not limited to when you can drive or where you can drive. You may qualify for an IID restricted driver’s license, even if you have prior DUIs on your driving record.

Reinstatement of your driving privileges and applying for a restricted driver’s license is different from challenging a Notice of Suspension. Reinstatement and restricted driver’s licenses are a way of dealing with a suspension of driving privileges. Challenging a Notice of Suspension is an attempt to avoid losing your driver’s license after a DUI in California. 

Can I Fight a California DMV Driver’s License Suspension After Receiving a Notice of Suspension?

Yes, you can fight an administrative suspension or revocation of driving privileges by the DMV. However, you must request the DMV hearing within ten days. If you choose to represent yourself, you need to know your legal rights regarding a DMV suspension hearing.

  • You have the right to review all evidence against you
  • You can cross-examine witnesses presented by the DMV, including the arresting police officer
  • You may subpoena witnesses to testify 
  • You have the right to subpoena documents and evidence
  • You may present evidence at the DMV hearing to support your case
  • You have the right to testify on your behalf

A DMV hearing officer hears your case. The DMV issues a written decision regarding your case. If the DMV hearing officer does not find sufficient evidence to suspend or revoke your driver’s license, he will rule in your favor. However, the DMV officer may allow the suspension to stand.

If the ruling is against you, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Superior Court or request the DMV conduct an administrative review of your case. 

Unfortunately, the evidence necessary to prove the DMVs case is less than the evidence required for a DUI conviction. Therefore, having a California DUI defense attorney argue the case could give you a better chance of winning. An experienced DUI attorney understands how to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make a compelling argument for not suspending your driving privileges.

Common DUI Defenses Used When Challenging a DMV Notice of Suspension

Many of the DUI defenses your California DUI lawyer uses at a criminal court trial applies when fighting a Notice of Suspension. Common DUI defenses your attorney might use, include, but are not limited to:

  • Challenging whether the police officer had probable cause for a traffic stop or DUI arrest
  • Title 17 violations regarding the collection, storage, and testing of blood, breath, and urine samples for alcohol or drugs
  • Challenging the accuracy of BAC tests based on health conditions, faulty machinery, operator errors
  • DUI breath test errors because of health conditions, mouth alcohol, and ketosis
  • Rising blood alcohol levels after a DUI arrest
  • Inaccuracy of field sobriety tests (FSTs) because of environmental conditions, the person’s health, or errors made by police officers
  • Lack of evidence proving your driving abilities were impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • You were not driving or in physical control of the vehicle 
  • Police used an unlawful DUI  checkpoint to stop and arrest you for drunk driving

Contact a California DUI defense attorney if you are arrested for driving under the influence. An attorney helps you fight the Notice of Suspension and fight DUI charges to avoid a conviction, jail, fines, and other DUI penalties.

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