Having your license suspended is one of the hardest DUI penalties. In California, virtually everyone relies on their car to get to and from work and most other obligations. If your license is suspended, you will want to reinstate it as early as possible.
Be aware that your license does not get automatically reinstated when the suspension period is up. For example, if you were sentenced to a six month suspension period and six months has passed, it is not legal to drive until you have completed the reinstatement process. You must follow all the steps and the DMV must issue you a new license before it is legal for you to drive.
Here are the complete steps to reinstate your license in California. These steps are specific to a license suspended for DUI. If your license was suspended for another reason, the process may be different.
How to Reinstate Your License after a California DUI
- Complete the full period of your license suspension. If you were sentenced to a one year suspension, one full year must pass. Until the time is elapsed there is no way to reinstate your license.
- Serve your full jail or prison sentence. You cannot reinstate your license until the full term is served. If your jail time was converted to a work furlough, work release or any other alternative sentencing program, you must have documentation that you completed it.
- Complete DUI school. DUI traffic school is a classroom course that you have to take following any DUI conviction. It can last three months, nine months, 18 months or 30 months depending on the conviction. (There is an alternate 12-hour course for wet reckless) You cannot reinstate your license until you have completed it, and you will need a document from the school known as a Notice of Completion.
- Complete any other sentencing conditions. Some DUI sentences will carry mandatory drug or alcohol treatment, up to and including rehab. Others will require that you attend a deterrence program, install an interlock device on your car or meet other conditions. Generally, you have to complete any and all terms of your sentence before you can reinstate your license, and have documentation for each. The only thing you do not have to complete is your probation period. Since the shortest DUI probation period is three years, but many license suspension periods are shorter, you can apply to reinstate your license even if you’re still on probation.
- Get the right car insurance. You must get your car insured before you apply to reinstate your driver’s license. But you need a special type of insurance, and a form SR-22 that proves you have it. You get the form SR-22 from your car insurance company. (There are alternatives to the SR-22 but they don’t apply to most people; typically you have to put down a $35,000 cash deposit or equivalent surety.) Find complete details on getting an SR-22 form here: How long does DUI affect insurance in California?
- Apply for reinstatement. When you have all the above steps completed, go to your local DMV office and apply for reinstatement. You should bring all the paperwork listed above.
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When apply for reinstatement you will have to pay a reinstatement fee. This is on top of all the other fines and fees you have paid to date. The amount of the fee varies:
- If you are applying for reinstatement after an Admin Per Se (APS) suspension, the fee is $125 (or $100 if you’re under 21). If you had your license suspended by the DMV but later won your DUI case, this applies to you. Otherwise, see below.
- If you were convicted of a DUI first offense, the fee is $55.
- If you were convicted of DUI (second offense or beyond), the fee if still $55 but additional fees may apply.
As you can see, the process of getting your license back is difficult, even if you complete your sentence faithfully. If you need to drive sooner you may qualify for restricted driving privileges during part or all of your suspension period.
You Can Fight to Keep Your License
Losing your license is serious. If you’ve been arrested for DUI you should everything in your power to fight the charge. The best way to do that is to have a good DUI lawyer on your side. We can match you with a top Los Angeles DUI attorney and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.