If you are facing drunk driving charges, license suspension is probably one of your most immediate concerns. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that they will lose their driver’s license for a period — even before they’ve faced prosecution. You only have ten days from your DUI arrest to appeal the DMV’s suspension of your license. So it’s crucial that you consult with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible if you are facing license suspension in an Orange County DUI case.

How Does Driver’s License Suspension Work?

DMV sanctions can be as complicated as criminal penalties for license suspension. For example, suspension times vary according to whether it is a first-time DUI, an underage DUI, whether you have had multiple DUIs, or whether you refused chemical breath and blood tests. Whatever your particular circumstance, immediately upon your arrest for DUI, your California license will be confiscated by the police and you will be served with a notice indicating that you have 30 days of temporary driving privileges. In small print, the document tells you that you have the right to an administrative hearing to contest the suspension.

This hearing will not be scheduled unless you or your attorney contacts the DMV within ten days after your arrest; failing to do so means that your license will be suspended in 30 days. For this reason, immediately contacting an attorney at the firm after your arrest is one of the smartest moves you can make.

How Long Can the DMV Suspend My License After a DUI?

Under state law, there are two types of DUI license suspension: administrative and court-ordered. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you may face both after a drunk driving arrest.

  • Administrative license suspension: Unless appealed, the DMV will suspend your license within 30 days of your DUI arrest — even though you have not been convicted.
  • Court-ordered license suspension: If convicted of a DUI, the court will notify the DMV, which will then suspend your driver’s license. Compared to an administrative suspension, court-ordered suspensions are longer and cannot be appealed.

The length of your administrative and court-ordered suspensions will vary, depending on the circumstances surrounding our DUI conviction.

  • First DUI: Six months of total license suspension (typically a four-month administrative suspension and a two-month court-ordered suspension). However, you can accept a longer, nine-month suspension and avoid jail time.
  • Second DUI: Two-year driver’s license suspension.
  • Third DUI: Three-year suspension.
  • Fourth DUI (or more): You run the risk of being deemed a habitual offender. You could also lose your driver’s license permanently.

Notably, most of these numbers (other than a fourth DUI) are the minimum sentences. You may face a significantly longer sentence if you were arrested for a DUI before you were 21 years old, refused a chemical test, injured someone, or are facing a felony DUI.

License Suspension and Orange County DUI Hearings

If you attend your DMV DUI hearing and win, which is more highly likely with legal representation, the DMV will notify you in writing. If you lose the DUI-DMV hearing, you could still retain permission to drive back and forth to work if you apply for a restricted license at any DMV field office. Many times, people with first-time DUI convictions in Orange County can regain limited driving privileges during their license suspension. While you’ll completely lose your license for 30 days, the court may agree to let you drive to and from work and your court-ordered obligations (like community service). However, you should not abuse these restricted driving privileges. If you do, you could face additional penalties if you’re caught driving outside of the court’s limited exceptions.

Be aware that the DMV administrative hearing, while totally separate from the DUI criminal court case, is quite powerful. If you lose your DMV DUI hearing but the court acquits you of the DUI charges, the DMV suspension or revocation of your driver’s license will be reversed, only if it determines that the acquittal was not warranted.

Also, the DMV decision to suspend your driver’s license will not be affected if a judge reduces your DUI to reckless driving. Even if your DUI charged was dismissed by the District Attorney, was not filed by the DA, or it was filed and dismissed by the court for lack of sufficient evidence, you will have the right to another DMV hearing to reverse an action to suspend your license within on year of the arrest date.

In addition to any action, the DMV may place on your driver’s license, by law, a DUI conviction can bring with an extension to your driver’s license suspension. At the end of the license suspension period, your driver’s license will be returned to you after you pay a DMV reissue fee and show proof that you have fulfilled any and all court required obligations, including proof of financial responsibility for automobile insurance.

How Do I Appeal an Administrative License Suspension?

You must act quickly if you want to appeal an administrative DUI license suspension in Orange County as you only have ten days to file an appeal with the DMV. Once the department receives your appeal, it will schedule a hearing. If you do not file an appeal with the DMV within ten days your arrest, it will automatically suspend your driver’s license after 30 days.

While you can represent yourself at a DMV hearing, it is in your best interest to work alongside an experienced DUI defense lawyer. Your lawyer can highlight evidence that supports your claim and give you the best possible chance of keeping your license. For example, your lawyer can present evidence showing that the police officer did not have reasonable cause to believe that you are under the influence or made procedural errors that prevented your lawful arrest.

Keeping your driver’s license is an important step in your DUI defense, but it is also just the beginning. You may still face criminal prosecution, and if convicted, the court will typically suspend your license. However, if you’re acquitted or found not guilty, the DMV should reinstate your license. Because there is so much at stake, you’ll want to consult with a lawyer who focuses their practice solely on DUI defense.

How Do I Reinstate My License After a DUI Conviction?

Many people are surprised to discover that after completing their DUI license suspension, they don’t automatically regain their driving privileges. Instead, they need to complete a reinstatement process. If you operate a motor vehicle before properly reinstating your California driver’s license, you can face additional criminal penalties.

Once you’ve completed the full term of your DUI license suspension, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Serve your jail or prison sentence, which may include work release or an alternative sentencing program.
  • Successfully complete your court-ordered education program, sometimes called “DUI school”. Depending on your case, this program may take between 3 and 30 months. The DMV will ask for your notice of completion.
  • Participate in court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment and counseling, if applicable.
  • Install an ignition interlock device in your car, if applicable.
  • Provide the DMV with a form SR-22, showing that you have the correct form of auto insurance on your vehicle.
  • Complete the reinstatement application and pay the associated fees.

Notably, you can apply for reinstatement of your driver’s license before you complete probation. That is, as long as meet these other criteria and are in compliance with your probation terms.

Contact an Orange County

If you have been arrested for a DUI, your license may be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as an “administrative sanction” and if convicted by the criminal court, as a “punishment.” While this appears to be double jeopardy, California’s Implied Consent laws make it possible. Losing your driver’s license can be devastating. It could mean job loss, the inability to get to medical appointments or to school, and many other restrictions. These severe limitations is why it is so important for you to contact an experienced local attorney at The Law Offices of Scott Henry today.

Our practice is dedicated 100% to DUI defense and when you hire our attorneys, you know that you will have the best chance of a positive outcome to your case. Our lead attorney, Mr. Henry, is rated SUPERB on AVVO, with a 10 out of 10 score, and is a member in good standing of numerous organizations that are committed to defending DUI cases and protecting the rights of the accused. Some of his legal affiliations include: National College of DUI Defense, California DUI Association, and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. To rest easier knowing that your driving future is in experienced hands, contact our firm to schedule your consultation.

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