California, in an effort to discourage drunk driving, has swift and harsh penalties for anyone convicted of a DUI. However, there is an additional layer of penalties for anyone arrested for a DUI charge. Due to California’s automatic administrative suspension, you can have your license suspended by the DMV within 30 days of your arrest. This time frame puts the suspension ahead of any criminal trial.
The rapid pace of California’s criminal justice system when it comes to DUIs is one reason why it is vitally important that you’re prepared sooner rather than later with the strongest possible defense. This need for a strong defense is why many people choose to rely on an attorney with extensive experience handling DUI cases. If you’d like to speak with a DUI lawyer for free, call (310) 862-0199.
Losing Your License at the Time of Your Arrest
Officers in California can take your license from you when they arrest you under suspicion of DUI. They, however, are not taking away your driving privileges at this stage. Instead, you will be issued a temporary license that will expire within 30 days.
If the officer does not take your license at the time of the arrest, you may still be issued a temporary license by the DMV. Instead of receiving the temporary license from the officer, the DMV will mail one to the address on your license. It will have a 30-day expiration date, though it will be from the date the DMV handles the request, rather than the date of your arrest.
Administrative Suspension Process
When the officer takes your license and issues your temporary one, that notifies the DMV of your pending DUI charge. This triggers the automatic administrative process, known as the “admin per se” process, that will result in your license being suspended. The length of the suspension will vary based on your record but can be as much as four months for a first-time offender.
The process has two key deadlines:
- 30 days from the date of your arrest – When your license will be suspended by the DMV
- 10 days from the date of your arrest – The last day to request a hearing to contest the administrative suspension
Even if you’re unsure of how you intend to handle the criminal aspect of your DUI, acting quickly is an important step if you’re looking to minimize the potential impact of the arrest. Your only chance of avoiding this suspension is by requesting a hearing with representatives from the DMV within 10 days of your arrest. You can use the time between the request and the hearing to speak with a DUI lawyer about the unique facts of your case.
The hearing will be held by an administrative officer working for the DMV, rather than a judge or other judiciary branch employee. While it is a formal procedure, it is not a strictly legal one. The DMV official will be looking to see if there is sufficient reason for the administrative suspension. It will handle evidence the same way a trial will.
However, a DMV hearing can be a vital part of building your DUI defense. On top of potentially allowing you to keep your license prior to the official judicial proceedings, the DMV hearing is an opportunity for you to examine the case against you. You can have an attorney represent you for the hearing, which can be a strong factor in your favor.
Suspension Upon a DUI Conviction
In addition to the administrative suspension, the DMV issues, you can also lose your license from a DUI conviction. The length of time you lose your license will be determined by two factors:
- Your history of DUI convictions
- Aggravating factors
You will have your license suspended for six to nine months for a first-time offense, with the latter being an option if you don’t serve the normal two-day jail sentence. Repeat offenses will come with longer suspensions and can result in a revocation of your driving privileges altogether.
You can also have your license suspended separately from the DUI offense. Refusing a chemical test after your arrest, for example, can result in a license suspension. You can still have your license suspended for refusing a chemical test, even if you aren’t convicted of the DUI offense.
Don’t Lose Your License without a Fight
Getting arrested for a DUI doesn’t mean you have to lose your license immediately. If you want to build the strongest defense possible for your DUI charge, call (310) 862-0199. We can help you schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer who can help you understand the charges you’re facing.
With only 10 days from the date of your arrest to stop an automatic license suspension, call us today!