Like most states, California has two separate systems to penalize DUI. One system is the courts and the criminal penalties you face if convicted. The other system is the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The DMV is the agency that issues and revoked driving privileges. If you are arrested for DUI, it will issue its license suspension. This suspension is known as Admin Per Se (APS) or administrative suspension.
Administrative suspension is the first penalty you will face in your DUI case, long before you go to trial. You must understand the APS system and fight it from the beginning. This is important for three reasons:
- You will automatically lose your driving privileges if you do not fight APS.
- APS takes effect regardless of your criminal case. You can lose your license to the DMV without even being found guilty of drunk driving.
- The APS process also gives you valuable opportunities to build your defense in court.
To help you prepare, we’ve compiled this complete guide to administrative suspension and how to fight it. Note: you have only 10 days from your arrest to fight your administrative suspension. To protect your driver’s license, speak to a DUI attorney immediately.
How the Administrative Suspension Process Works in California
The APS process is triggered when you are arrested for any DUI charge—including refusing a blood or breath test. Normally, the arresting officer will take away your driver’s license on the spot. The license is sent to the DMV, which will destroy it.
The officer also gives you a temporary license on a pink sheet of paper. This temporary license is only good for 30 days.
Sometimes the officer does not remove your license or notify you of the suspension process. Nonetheless, the APS is still coming. The DMV will send you a notification of the suspension by mail.
When Does My 10-Day Deadline Start?
In theory, your 10-day deadline to fight the suspension begins when you receive a notification. In practice, you should assume the 10 days start from the date of your arrest. If you miss the deadline, returning and getting a second chance is hard.
Within the 10-day timeframe, you can request a hearing to fight the suspension. You should always request this hearing. Even in the most unlikely cases, there are benefits to fighting APS.
What if You Miss the Deadline?
If you miss the deadline or lose at the hearing, your license suspension will begin 30 days after your arrest. Speak with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer about your case today. You do not want to represent yourself as mistakes can be made that impact your driver’s license.
How to Win an APS Hearing in Los Angeles
Your DMV hearing is not a trial. It is not even held at a courthouse. It can be held in person or over the phone, and a single DMV hearing officer will be present. To maximize your chances of winning your hearing, we recommend you do two things:
- Request that the hearing be done in person
- Have your DUI lawyer represent you at the hearing
How a Lawyer Can Help
There are specific things the DMV is looking to hear from you, and your lawyer knows how to build a strong case. The arguments they can use may include the following:
- That officer did not have probable cause to arrest you or that your arrest was illegal.
- That there is reason to believe your blood alcohol level was not over the legal limit of .08% (note that this legal limit is different or does not apply to some charges)
- That the officers did not warn you that refusing a blood or breath test is a crime (if you refused)
- That you were not driving the car
Your lawyer will know how to present evidence for any argument they use. The DMV will not rule in your favor without evidence. This is why having a lawyer makes such a big difference.
Be sure to work with an attorney who has extensive experience with these hearings and the DMV in California so you do not risk losing your license for a longer period. Talk to a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles today about your case.
What Happens if the DMV Suspends My License in California?
If you lose the DMV hearing or do not request one, your license will be suspended. The length of the suspension depends on the DUI offense:
- First DUI: 4-month suspension
- Repeat DUIs in a 10-year period: 1-year suspension
- Refusing a Chemical Test (first offense): 1-year suspension
- Refusing a Test (second offense): 2-year suspension
- Refusing a Test (third or subsequent offense): 3-year suspension
These terms will be longer if the new charge happens during probation for a previous DUI.
APS suspensions include a period of “hard” suspension. You cannot apply for restricted driving privileges until the hard suspension ends. The length of the hard suspension ranges from 30 days to the entire suspension period (a year or more).
First-time DUI offenses would not include a hard suspension unless you refused a chemical test.
How the DMV Hearing Can Help Your Los Angeles DUI Case
You can call the arresting officer at a DMV hearing as a witness. (The DMV also has this option but rarely uses it). This can be incredibly helpful to your case as a whole.
A DMV hearing is typically 30 days or more after the arrest. By this time, the officer may have changed their story or forgotten all the details. Anything they say at the DMV hearing can be used against them if their case later goes to trial.
For example, imagine that the arresting officer said in their initial report that they suspected you of drunk driving because you swerved. At the DMV hearing, however, they also claimed you smelled of alcohol. They never said this in their original report, and as it turns out, they’re mixing you up with a different arrest.
Your lawyer has it on record that their testimony is confused and mistaken. This calls their statements into question. By discovering this at the DMV hearing, you might have weeks or longer to build a case around it instead of discovering it “on the fly” at trial.
Choosing the Right Lawyer for Your DMV Hearing
Choosing the right lawyer for a DMV hearing to fight a license suspension makes all the difference in your case. There is a lot that can go wrong if you represent yourself or decide to go with a public defender. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles understands what is at stake and will fight to ensure your rights are protected at all times.
Be sure to look for a lawyer who has experience representing clients at DMV hearings, who has an intricate knowledge of the state’s DUI laws, and who will not back down from a challenge. Talk to an experienced DUI attorney today about your case.
Do Not Face License Suspension without a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer
As you can see, the APS suspension system is complex. It is riddled with obscure rules, and in many ways, it simply doubles the penalties you face for a DUI. However, it can be fought and even become useful in defending yourself, but doing this successfully depends largely on having a good lawyer.
We can connect you with a top Los Angeles DUI lawyer who will give you a FREE consultation on your case. Do not risk your driver’s license—or your future.
Fill out the form to the right or call our office for your FREE consultation today. We are here to answer your questions, investigate your case, and fight for the return of your driver’s license in California.