What Happens to Your Driver’s License If You’re Arrested For DUI in California

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Initial Procedures. If you are arrested for DUI (or drunk driving) in California, you should have been given a choice of a chemical test of your breath or blood. If you take a breath test and the results are .08% blood-alcohol or higher, your driver’s license will be taken by the officer and you will be given a Notice of Suspension. This pink document operates both to formally advise you of the immediate suspension and as a temporary permit to drive (unrestricted) for thirty days. If you give a blood rather than breath sample in a California DUI case, the results will probably not be available for a few days; the suspension begins but will be conditional upon later results being over .08%. If you should refuse to take a chemical test, your license will still be confiscated but the period of suspension will be substantially longer.Out-of-State Drivers. If you are an out-of-state driver, the police in California cannot confiscate your license, as it is the property of another state government. You will receive the same Notice of Suspension, but this serves only to suspend your driving privilege within the state of California; your license remains valid outside of the state. You should be aware, however, that your state’s motor vehicle department will probably suspend your license upon being notified by the California DMV of the DUI license suspension.Administrative Penalties. A first drunk driving offense carries a suspension of 4 months. You should be aware, however, that this can be reduced to 1 month followed by work-restriction of 5 months if you file proof of insurance (the SR-22 form) and proof of enrollment in a state-approved DUI school. If you refused to take a chemical test, the suspension is for 1 year – and no work restriction is permitted. If this is a second offense within 10 years, the suspension is for one year, two if for a refusal – and again, no work restriction will be granted.Challenging the Suspension. You have a right to contest the suspension (called an Administrative License Suspension, or ALS). This is completely separate and apart from the criminal proceedings. It is strongly recommended that an ALS hearing be requested: There is a good chance of having the suspension thrown out. In any event, the worst thing that can happen is that you will receive the same suspension as if you had not requested a hearing