Many drivers arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) don’t realize that there are two potential ways they can have their driver’s license suspended. If you are facing a DUI charge, it’s important to know the difference between the DMV administrative suspension versus the court-mandated license suspension.
What is the DMV Administrative Suspension?
If you’re arrested on suspicion of a DUI, you will face a DMV license suspension if:
- You are found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher or
- You refuse chemical testing after being arrested
After you’ve been tested or refused the test, the arresting officer will take your driver’s license and give you a temporary one in its place. The California DMV will also get notified of your arrest and put an automatic suspension on your license. This takes effect 30 days from the date of your arrest.
This DMV administrative suspension is also known as “admin per se suspension,” and you may be able to fight it if you request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. It’s a good idea to already have a DUI lawyer at this time, as they can represent you at the hearing and gain knowledge of your case in the process.
DMV Hearing Process
The DMV hearing is solely about your driving privilege and the circumstances of your arrest. It does not determine whether or not you’re guilty of DUI.
If you or your lawyer calls and schedules a DMV administrative hearing, it will be assigned to a hearing officer. That officer will look at the evidence of your arrest and determine whether your suspension should be dropped or not. That may include:
- Were you lawfully arrested?
- Did the arresting officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence?
- Did you have a BAC of 0.08% or more in your blood when you were driving?
- Were you notified that refusing to complete a chemical test would suspend your driving privilege?
If you can make a good case that you should get to keep your license, the suspension may be revoked.
Requesting a hearing is a good idea regardless, as hearings are often scheduled far in advance. That means you can continue driving until the hearing date—which may not even happen if your case is resolved before then.
What Is the Court License Suspension?
Winning the DMV hearing is certainly a reason to celebrate getting to keep your license. However, you may also face a license suspension after your criminal case in court.
If you get convicted in court, the DMV will be notified and automatically put a suspension on your license. This only happens if you are specifically convicted of DUI or DUI causing injury. If you receive a reduced charge like reckless driving or exhibition of speed, the court suspension won’t be triggered.
Applying for a Restricted License After Conviction
If you already served your 30-day suspension from the DMV, you won’t be required to serve an additional 30 days. And if you didn’t refuse to test, you should be eligible for a restricted license immediately if you agree to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle.
If you did not serve a suspension from the DMV and are convicted of DUI, you will have to complete the 30-day hard suspension before being eligible for a restricted license along with the IID installation.
The Administrative Suspension vs. Court Suspension
The DMV administrative suspension and the court-ordered license suspension look similar, but they happen and affect you in different ways:
- The administrative suspension, without a DMV hearing request, happens 30 days after your arrest
- The court suspension happens only if you are convicted of DUI
If you are found not guilty of your DUI charges in court, the DMV will reverse their suspension. If the charges are dismissed or the District Attorney decides not to file a charge against you due to lack of evidence, you’ll be allowed another administrative hearing within one year of your arrest date.
All this being said, you may be able to avoid either license suspension completely if you aren’t convicted of DUI in the first place. That’s why it’s crucial to contact a DUI lawyer as soon as you can after your arrest. An experienced DUI attorney will look at your case with a professional’s eye and determine your best chance at fighting the charge. Even if you can’t win your case completely, your lawyer will look for opportunities to challenge the evidence against you and seek a better outcome, such as a reduced charge.
Were you arrested for DUI in California? We can connect you with a top Los Angeles DUI lawyer for a FREE consultation to talk about your options. For your free consultation today, call 310-896-2724, or fill out the form on this page.