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Can I keep my license if I need my car for work or school?

​A driver's license is taken away after an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) in California. When the police take away the driver's license, the driver is given a piece of paper that acts as a temporary license that is good for 30 days. After the temporary license expires, driving privileges will be suspended.


A driver cannot operate a vehicle when their license is suspended. Driving on a suspended license can lead to criminal charges and an extended suspension period. However, drivers have a number of options to get their driving privileges back after a DUI. If you have any further questions about driving restrictions after a DUI arrest or conviction in California, contact the experienced East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.


How can I keep my license after a drunk driving arrest?

If you want to keep your license after a drunk driving arrest, you will generally need to request a DMV administrative per se (APS) hearing. The DMV will generally suspend a driver's license 30 days after the arrest, even if the driver DUI case has not yet gone to trial.


You only have 10 days after a DUI arrest to request a DMV hearing. If you do not file for a hearing within 10 days, you will lose your opportunity to challenge the automatic suspension. Contact your DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest so your lawyer can request a hearing and represent you during the DMV hearing to fight against a suspended license.


A DUI conviction can also lead to a license suspension, even if you won the DMV hearing. In a DUI case, if you want to keep your license, you will have to win both the APS hearing with the DMV and avoid a criminal conviction with the criminal court.

Can I get a restricted license after a DUI?


There are two types of restricted licenses available in most DUI cases. This includes:

  • Ignition Interlock Device Restricted License
  • Restricted License (Limited to Driving to Certain Locations)

Ignition Interlock Device Restricted License

An ignition interlock device (IID) license allows a driver to get their driving privileges back once they have installed an IID in the vehicle. An IID is like a breathalyzer that requires an alcohol-free breath test in order to start and operate the vehicle. With an IID, there is no longer a mandatory suspension period and a driver can get their privileges reinstated after the IID is installed.

Restricted License (Limited to Driving to Certain Locations)

After a DUI, an individual can also apply for a restricted driver's license that allows for limited driving. A driver has to pay a financial responsibility penalty fee, pay a reissue fee, and file proof of financial responsibility with the DMV (SR-22). The restricted license is limited to:

  • Driving to and from work, and during work, and/or
  • Driving yourself or other family members to obtain medical care for any serious medical problem, and/or
  • Driving your minor dependent to and from school if no public or school bus transportation is available.

When can I get an unrestricted license after a DUI?


A driver generally has to wait out the mandatory suspension period after a DUI before getting their unrestricted driving privileges restored unless they request a restriction.  

The suspension period depends on the DUI charges, as follows: 

DUI Violation

Suspension Period

1st DUI

6 Months

1st DUI Causing Injury

1 Year

2nd DUI

1 Year With IID / 2 Years Without IID

3rd DUI

2 Years With IID / 3 Years Without IID

4th DUI or Felony DUI

Up to 4 years


Contact an Experienced East Bay DUI Attorney


East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of DUI experience and understands how frustrating it can be dealing with a suspended license after a DUI. You can fight the DMV license suspension and criminal DUI charges to keep your license. If you have any questions about your DUI or driving restrictions, contact East Bay DUI defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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