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Does the California DMV Have the Authority to Suspend My License?

Innocent until proven guilty does not apply to your driver's license. Your California driver's license is issued by the California DMV. The DMV has the authority to suspend or revoke your license, even if you are never convicted of a crime. 

Until you get arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you may know that your license will be taken away immediately upon arrest. The other surprise for many drivers is that their driving privileges will be suspended as a matter of course 30 days after the arrest. 

There are ways to keep your license and your ability to drive even after a drunk driving arrest. However, you need to act fast. There is only a 10-day window to make a formal request to keep your license or you may lose your license until you have your day in court. Contact an experienced Oakland DUI defense lawyer who can explain your rights and legal defense options after an East Bay DUI.

California DMV License Suspensions

Any person in California can not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway unless they hold a valid driver's license issued under the California Vehicle Code. The law also allows drivers with a license issued from other states. However, California is also able to suspend driving privileges in the state, even if they have a license issued by another state. 

Under California law, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is required to suspend or revoke the driving privileges of any person arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, who: 

Failing a chemical test after a DUI means showing a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of at or over a certain amount. For most drivers, the BAC limit is 0.08% BAC. However, that limit can be lower for other drivers. The BAC violation levels include: 

Administrative Per Se License Suspension (APS Suspension) 

Suspending a driver's license based only on the chemical test is under the administrative license suspension program, or administrative per se (APS). The administrative license suspension is independent of the criminal case, jail time, fines, or DUI conviction. It immediately affects a driver's license. Immediately upon a DUI arrest, the APS procedure may include: 

  • Confiscate the driver's license;
  • Order of Suspension/Revocation; and
  • Temporary license valid for 30 days. 

After 30 days from the DUI arrest, the driver's license and driving privileges in California are suspended. Suspension timelines are based on the driving offense. For most first-time DUIs, The driver's license will be suspended for 4 months to 1 year. License suspension periods include: 

  • Drivers under 21: 1-year suspension
  • Drivers on DUI probation: 2-year suspension
  • Commercial vehicle drivers (CDL): 4-month suspension
  • All drivers per se DUI: 4-month suspension
  • Repeat DUI charges: 1-year suspension

This is only the DMV suspension period. If you are convicted of a DUI for the above offenses, the suspension can be longer. For example, the DMV may suspend a driver's license for 4 months after a DUI arrest. However, after a conviction, the driver's license may end up suspended for 1 year. 

It is important to note that your license can also be suspended even if you refuse to submit a chemical test sample. After a DUI arrest, refusal to complete a test can result in a 1-year suspension for a first offense, 2 years for a 2nd in 10 years, or 3 years for more refusals in 10 years. 

How to Keep Your License After a DUI Arrest

The police are required to confiscate your license after an arrest and they will generally give you a temporary 30-day license. However, there are ways to keep your driving privileges beyond the 30-day limit and even avoid a license suspension. The key to keeping your license after a DUI arrest is filing a request for a hearing with the DMV. 

Drivers have a right to a hearing before the DMV to challenge a license suspension. An APS hearing is a chance to have your case reviewed by a Driver Safety Hearing Officer. At the hearing, the driver, or the driver's California DUI defense lawyer, can review evidence, challenge evidence, present evidence, and present witnesses and testimony to the DMV. 

You only have 10 days following receipt of the notice of a suspension to request a hearing. For drivers arrested on suspicion of a DUI, this means that they only have 10 days after the arrest to request a hearing from the DMV. After 10 days, the suspension is automatic and will go into force after 30 days from the arrest.  

To request a hearing, you have to make a formal request with the DMV. Contact the local area Driver Safety Office. You may be able to request a hearing in writing or your East Bay DUI defense lawyer will likely know how to request a hearing more quickly. The East Bay local Driver Safety Branch Office is located: 

Oakland DMV Driver Safety Branch
7677 Oakport St. Suite #220
Oakland, CA 94621
Phone: (510) 563-8900

Get Your License Back After a DUI

If you missed the chance for a hearing, you have to go through the process of getting your license reinstated. This can take additional time and money. After a DUI, the requirements to have your license reinstated or reissued include: 

  • Serving the suspension period;
  • Pay court fees;
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility (SR-22);
  • Complete DUI school;
  • Have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed, if required; and
  • Pay DMV reinstatement fees.

10 Days After a DUI Arrest in the East Bay and Oakland

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of DUI defense experience and understands the consequences for drivers after an arrest for driving under the influence. Representing individuals in Contra Costa and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick understands how important your license can be for your job and your family. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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