One of the most dreaded penalties of a DUI conviction is having your driver’s license suspended. It’s almost impossible to get around the Los Angeles area without driving. We use our cars to go to and from work, errands, and important appointments like doctor visits, seeing family and going to school. A single DUI conviction can take all of that away.
California does allow restricted driving privileges for many DUI offenders. A restricted driver’s license lessens the burden of having your license suspended. It will typically allow you to go to and from your job, potentially helping keep your life on track. But getting your restricted driver’s license can be confusing. Here’s our complete guide.
How to Get Your Restricted Driver’s License
- Determine if you are eligible for a restricted driver’s license. Not everyone convicted of DUI is eligible to receive restricted driving privileges. In some cases, the judge may have directly told you at sentencing that you can apply for a restricted license. But in many cases the judge doesn’t address this. Generally, the only people not eligible for a restricted license are drivers who (a) already had their license suspended or revoked when they were pulled over for DUI, or (b) refused to take a chemical test after being arrested for DUI. If you aren’t in those categories than you should be eligible.
- Wait 30 days or until your “hard suspension” period is over. There is always a waiting period before you’re eligible for your restricted driver’s license. For most DUI offenders this period is just 30 days, as mandated by the DMV. However, in some cases the judge will impose a period of “hard suspension” as part of your criminal sentence. Hard suspension is time where you cannot drive at all. All sentences for a second, third, or subsequent DUI within a 10 year period will include a hard suspension. You can either wait until the hard suspension is over, or in some cases shorten it by agreeing to install an ignition interlock device in every car you own.
- Enroll in DUI school. The DMV will not agree to give you any driving privileges unless you’re complying with the terms of your sentence. The most basic requirement you must meet is to enroll in DUI traffic school, a series of classes that teach you to drive safely. Note that you only have to enroll in the classes to get your restricted driver’s license; you don’t have to wait until you complete Ask your DUI school program for proof of enrollment. You’ll need this document when you apply for your license.
- Enroll in other court-ordered programs as required. Some DUI sentences require you enroll in other programs as well. These may include addiction treatment such as an AA group, a drug addiction support group or rehab. Again, you must enroll in this treatment program before you apply for your restricted license, but you don’t have to wait to complete it. Ask for proof of enrollment.
- Get the right car insurance. You must show “proof of financial responsibility” before you are allowed to drive. This basically just means proof of adequate insurance. DUI offenders need a higher level of car insurance than other drivers, which costs more. Talk to your car insurance company and tell them you need a form SR-22 for the DMV. More details on the SR-22 are available here: How long does DUI affect insurance in California?
- Apply for your temporary, restricted driver’s license. Once you have completed all the steps above you can apply for your restricted driver’s license. You can do this at your local DMV office. Bring the proof of enrollment and the SR-22 and any court documents about your sentence. You will have to pay a $125 fee (or $100 if you were under 21 when DUI occurred).
Once you are issued your restricted driver’s license, you can only legally drive under certain circumstances. Typically these include:
- To and from court-ordered treatment like DUI school.
- To and from work.
- During work, if and only if you are required to drive as part of your job.
Note that these steps only apply for personal driving privileges. There is no way to get a restricted Commercial Driver’s License.
Fight to Keep Your License
Getting a restricted driver’s license takes time and isn’t an option for every DUI offender. The best way to handle it is to never be convicted of DUI in the first place. Let us connect you to a lawyer with the right experience for your case. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.