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One of the most common questions asked by people who have been charged with driving under the influence is what effect a DUI conviction will have on their driver’s license. For drivers who are licensed by the state of California to operate a motor vehicle, a DUI conviction under any subdivision of California Vehicle Code Section 23152 will trigger a driver’s license suspension that is at least six months long.
It is important to remember that the license suspension triggered by a DUI court conviction is completely separate from any administrative action that becomes effective once a driver is initially arrested for DUI. At the time of arrest, the driver is provided notice of an impending license suspension that would begin 30 days later. In order to contest this suspension, the driver must file a timely request for an administrative hearing within 10 days of arrest. This hearing would be held before a hearing officer from the California Department of Motor Vehicles who would ultimately determine if the suspension is valid. For first time DUI defendants who were 21 or over and did not refuse testing, the suspension period is four months. For those who refused testing or who are under 21, the suspension would be a year.
A court suspension will be triggered once the defendant has been convicted of DUI and the conviction has been communicated to the DMV. Most DUI defendants who did not refuse testing would be eligible for a restricted driver’s license after serving a 30 day “hard” suspension during which they would be unable to drive. If the driver has already served the 30 day hard suspension as a result of the administrative action, he or she would be credited for this time and would be immediately eligible for a restricted license.
A court suspension is only triggered by convictions for driving under the influence. Drivers who are convicted of reduced DUI charges such as wet reckless in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 or exhibition of speed pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c) would not be subject to a court license suspension. However they may still be subject to an administrative suspension if their BAC was 0.08 percent or higher.
Defendants who are convicted of DUI in Los Angeles would be required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (“IID”) installed into their vehicle as a result of the DMV’s IID Pilot Program. The IID would have to remain in the defendant’s vehicle for at least five months and would require the driver to provide an alcohol-free breath sample into the device before the vehicle could be started.
Before a driver can have his or her driving privileges fully reinstated without restriction, he or she must submit proof of completion of whichever drug and alcohol education program has been required by the court.
For drivers who have licenses from states other than California, any DUI conviction will be entered to a national DMV database. As a result of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, the driver’s home state will typically take reciprocal action and will issue its own driver’s license suspension.