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Upon being arrested for a DUI incident in California, the arresting officer will physically seize the driver’s California license and will provide him or her with a notice of an impending license suspension, set to take effect automatically in 30 days.
If the driver wants to contest the license suspension, he or she must file a request for an Administrative Per Se hearing with the applicable DMV Driver’s Safety Office. If this request is properly and timely filed, the Department will issue a stay of the suspension and send the driver a temporary license valid through the outcome of the hearing.
A DMV administrative hearing is very different from a criminal court trial. The hearing is conducted by a hearing officer who is neither a judge nor attorney and who effectively acts as both the prosecutor who presents the evidence and the judge who renders a decision. The driver is entitled to call witnesses, present evidence and be represented by an attorney. The hearing can be conducted in person at the DMV Driver’s Safety Office or telephonically.
If the driver is successful in his or her hearing, the license suspension will be set aside and driving privileges will be restored. If the hearing officer ultimately concludes that the suspension is justified, the stay of suspension will be lifted and the driver will be unable to drive. So what kind of DUI penalties are we looking at for DUI offenders?
For first-time DUI offenders who did not refuse testing and were 21 or over at the time of the incident, the suspension period is four months. However, after a 30 day hard suspension, the driver would be eligible for a restricted license. To get a restricted license, the driver would have to enroll in a three month alcohol education class, obtain supplemental SR-22 insurance and pay a DMV reinstatement fee. Getting a restricted license adds two more months to the administrative suspension period. A restricted license would not be available for drivers with prior DUI offenses, refusal allegations or who were under 21 at the time of the incident. The suspension period for drivers under these circumstances is at least one year.
Many drivers fail to realize that a separate license suspension would be triggered by a court criminal conviction for a DUI offense. This suspension period would not apply to those convicted of reduced DUI charges such as wet reckless, dry reckless or exhibition of speed. The suspension length for a first time DUI offense is six months. The driver would have to complete a 30 day hard suspension, but would be credited with any suspension time already served on the administrative suspension.
Los Angeles County is part of the DMV’s IID Pilot Program. This means that any defendant convicted of a DUI offense in Los Angeles would have to have an IID installed in his or her vehicle for at least five months before he or she would be eligible for license reinstatement.
Getting your license back following a DUI arrest or conviction can be very tricky and those dealing with these issues should seek the help of a knowledgeable and experienced DUI Attorney.