Forget about probation, forget about the fines and fees, forget about the DUI program, and, believe it or not, forget about jail. To some, none of these DUI penalties are worse than the dreaded license suspension.
If you are arrested for a California DUI, will your license be suspended and, if so, for how long?
Let me preface this article by saying that I’m talking about your run-of-the-mill first time DUI, not DUI with priors, not chemical test refusals, not DUI causing injury. For details on the suspensions for these scenarios, see prior posts.
If a person is arrested on suspicion of a California DUI, they only have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV otherwise their license will be automatically suspended for four months. The hearing, which is a civil administrative hearing, is to determine 1.) that the driver had a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, 2.) whether the officer had reasonable cause to stop the driver, and 3.) whether the arrest was lawful.
Following the hearing, if the DMV determines that a person had a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, the officer had reasonable cause to stop the driver, and that the arrest was lawful, the driver’s license will be suspended for four months.
And if the person win the DMV hearing, there is no administrative suspension.
Separate from the DMV’s administrative process is the DUI court case. A person can be convicted of a California DUI if they are 1.) “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs or both, or 2.) they are driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more. If a person is convicted of a California DUI, it triggers a six month “mandatory action” suspension. This means that the court will notify the DMV of the conviction which triggers a separate six-month suspension than the previously mentioned four-month suspension. The driver, however, will get credit against the six-month suspension for any suspension time served on the four-month suspension. Therefore, a person should serve no more than six months worth of suspension.
And if the person wins their court case, there is no mandatory action suspension.
This is confusing, I understand. Maybe an example might help.
Jon is arrested on suspicion of a DUI. He schedules the DMV hearing within 10 days, but loses the hearing and his license is suspended for four months beginning on January 1st. On March 1st, Jon is convicted of a DUI in court, thus beginning a six-month suspension on March 1st. However, since Jon has already served three months on the DMV suspension, he will only need to serve three more months for the court-triggered suspension. Jon will be able to reinstate his license on June 1st.
So what happens when the DMV hearing and the court case have different outcomes? The following is cheat-sheet that was given to me when I first became a DUI attorney:
· DMV hearing loss and a court conviction à License suspension
· DMV hearing loss and a court dismissal à License suspension
· DMV hearing loss and an acquittal after a court trial à License suspension set aside
· DMV hearing win and a court conviction à License suspension
· DMV hearing win and a court dismissal à No license suspension
· DMV hearing win and an acquittal after a court trial à No license suspension
Whether the suspension is through the DMV or the court or both, a person can request a “restricted license” from the DMV after 30 days of the suspension.