Soft vs. Hard Suspension for DUI

Soft suspension means you may qualify for restricted driving privileges. Hard suspension means you cannot.

All DUIs in California carry a mandatory license suspension as part of the sentence. If you are convicted of DUI, you will lose your driver’s license. However, this means different things in different circumstances.

A “soft” suspension or restricted suspension means you may be able to qualify for a restricted driver’s license. A restricted license allows you to drive for certain specific purposes, mainly to and from work. The suspension can still disrupt your life, but it may not affect your career.

A “hard” suspension means you cannot drive for any reason. There are no exceptions.

In California, most DUI sentences are soft suspensions, and most others will have a period of hard suspension followed by soft suspension. Usually, if you win at your DMV hearing, you will not face a hard suspension. If you lose the hearing or never request a hearing, however, the first 30 days of your suspension will be “hard” suspension.

Even if you are not given a hard suspension, you do not automatically get the privilege of driving to work. You must get the right car insurance, complete certain probation requirements, and then formally apply for a restricted driver’s license. You can find complete instructions here.

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