Most Frequently Asked DUI Questions

Most Frequently Asked DUI Questions

  1. I’ve just been arrested for DUI or drunk driving. What happens now?
  2. What am I supposed to do with the Order of Suspension and Temporary License that the officer gave me at the time of my arrest?
  3. At the time of my arrest, the officer confiscated my driver’s license. How do I get it back?
  4. Why do I need to contact the DMV within 10 days of my arrest?
  5. How do I contact the DMV to request a hearing?
  6. What happens at the DMV hearing?
  7. Is the DMV hearing worth fighting and can these hearings be won?
  8. Do I need a hearing to get a restricted license to go to and from work?
  9. The officer stated I refused to take a chemical test. What does this mean?
  10. For how long will my driving privilege be suspended if I took the chemical test?
  11. How long will my driving privileges be suspended for not taking the chemical test?
  12. How is the DMV suspension or revocation for the DUI arrest different from the suspension or revocation following my conviction in criminal court?
  13. My license was already suspended by the DMV, or it is too late for me to request a hearing. How do I get it back, or what do I need to do to get a restricted license so that I can drive?
  14. How Long Will My License continue to be Suspended or Revoked if I did not request or if I lost a DMV hearing?

I’ve just been arrested for DUI or drunk driving. What happens now?

The officer that arrested you is required by law to immediately forward a copy of the completed notice of suspension or revocation form and any driver license taken into possession, with a sworn report to the DMV. The DMV automatically conducts an administrative review that includes an examination of the officer’s report, the suspension or revocation order, and any test results. If the suspension or revocation is upheld during the administrative review, you may request a hearing to contest the suspension or revocation.

You have the right to request a hearing from the DMV within 10 days of receipt of the suspension or revocation order. Our firm can help you do this. If, after hearing the argument of an attorney regarding your license, the review shows there is no basis for the suspension or revocation, the action will be set aside. You will be notified by the DMV in writing only if the suspension or revocation is set aside following the administrative review.

What am I supposed to do with the Order of Suspension and Temporary License that the officer gave me at the time of my arrest?

The license (usually a pink piece of paper) is temporary. You may drive for 30 days from the date the order of suspension or revocation was issued, provided you have been issued a California driver license and your driver license is not expired, or your driving privilege is not suspended or revoked for some other reason.

At the time of my arrest, the officer confiscated my driver license. How do I get it back?

Your driver license will be returned to you at the end of the suspension or revocation, provided you pay (on or after January 1, 2003) a $125 reissue fee to the DMV and you file proof of financial responsibility. You may also be required to enroll in and complete a State licensed alcohol program.The reissue fee remains at $100 if you were under age 21 and were suspended under the Zero Tolerance Law pursuant to Vehicle Code ยงยง23136, 13353.1, 13388, 13392. If it is determined that there is not a basis for the suspension or revocation, your driver license will be issued or returned to you.

Why do I need to contact the DMV within 10 days of my arrest?

You must contact the DMV within 10 days to protect your driving privileges. The temporary driver’s license (the pink piece of paper you were probably issued expires 30 days after your arrest. The purpose of contacting the DMV is twofold. First your driving privileges will not be suspended before a hearing is held regarding your arrest. Second, your driving privileges will not be suspended until the hearing is held and a decision rendered.

How do I contact the DMV to request a hearing?

It is best, if you are going to retain an attorney, to allow the attorney’s office to schedule the DMV hearing for you. Our fee includes this service, and we can schedule a hearing that works with our availability (court and DMV) schedule. For your convenience, if you cannot retain an attorney within 10 days, the phone numbers for Southern California DMV matters, to do so, is reproduced here.

What happens at the DMV hearing?Return To Questions

A hearing officer will conduct the hearing. His or her function is to prosecute the case and make a final decision based on the evidence presented. Your need to drive or your need for a driver’s license for work are not considered relevant and cannot be considered at the hearing. Likewise, you cannot apply for a “hardship” license based upon medical, employment, or education right to drive, unless you are under age 21. At your hearing, only the following issues will be discussed, by law (If you took a blood, breath or urine test):

  • 1. Did the officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code 23140, 23152 or 23153?
  • 2. Were you placed under lawful arrest?
  • 3. Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had a 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in your blood or 0.05% or more if under age 21?

(If you refused or failed to complete a blood, breath or urine test):

  • 1. Did the officer have reasonable cause to believe you driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code 23140, 23152 or 23153?
  • 2. Were you placed under lawful arrest?
  • 3. Were you told that if you refused to submit to or fail to complete a blood, breath or urine test after being requested to do so by a peace officer, that your driving privilege would be suspended for one year or revoked for two or three years?
  • 4. Did you refuse to submit to or fail to complete a blood, breath or urine test after being requested to do so by an officer?

Before the hearing you may see or obtain copies of DMV’s evidence. Under a 2003 rule, any request for documents or police reports must be made in writing. You may be represented by an attorney or other person, or you may represent yourself. You may present oral testimony and other evidence or you may file the information you would like to present in written form.

The DMV ordinarily will not arrange to have the officer testify. However, DMV reserves the right to call the police officer that arrested you if it is later determined that his or her testimony is needed. You may subpoena the officer or any other witness you feel may help your case. You are responsible for payment of any required fees and for making sure your witness receives the subpoena.

After the hearing, if you lose, you may request a departmental review in writing within 15 days, for an additional fee (as of 2003 this fee is now $150), or a court review by filing a writ with the Superior Court, and filing that writ within the number of days shown on the bottom of the notice that was mailed to you telling you the results of your hearing.

Is the DMV hearing worth fighting and can these hearings be won?

Yes. In many cases, there are legal questions on at least one of the three criteria above. The DMV must answer all three affirmatively to suspend the driving privilege. A skilled attorney can help discover and factually develop the issues that can win your case at the DMV.

According to the DMV’s own statistics for 2001, the last year available, 17% of ALL persons, who were suspended for DUI at the time of their arrest kept their driver’s license by simply requesting a hearing to fight the suspension. The statistics below are from the DMV site.

It’s been reported that hiring an experienced and knowledgeable attorney increases the odds of winning to somewhere between 40% and 70%, depending upon the skills of the lawyer, hearing location and the particular hearing officer that your case is assigned to. In a license suspension hearing, the DMV has to show that the suspension of your license is justified. The statement contained in the paperwork (temporary license and order of suspension) that YOU have to show the suspension not justified is a significant and very misleading statement of the law. The DMV has the burden of proof, not you. This law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend or revoke the driving privileges of any person arrested for driving under the influence who:

  • Takes a breath test which shows a Blood Alcohol Concentrate (BAC) of 0.08% or more, 0.05% or more if under age 21, or
  • Takes a blood or urine test and the officer believes that the driver is at or above the 0.08% BAC, 0.05% if under age 21, or
  • Refuses to take or fails to complete a blood, breath or urine test of his or her BAC.

Do I need a hearing to get a restricted license to go to and from work?

No. A request for a restricted license cannot be considered at the DMV hearing. You may apply for a restricted license only after your license has been suspended for the mandatory period by law. A restricted driver’s license allows you to drive to and from work, during the course and scope of your employment, and to and from an alcohol school. A restricted license is applied for at a DMV branch office, not at the Office of Driver Safety locations, which is where license hearings are held. Attorney Hoffman may be able to help you obtain a restricted drivers license after a mandatory one month minimum suspension period.

The officer stated I refused to take a chemical test. What does this mean?

You are required by law to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol and/or drug content of your blood. You did not submit to or complete a blood or breath test after being requested to do so by a peace officer. As of January 1999, a urine test is no longer available unless:

  • The officer suspects you were driving under the influence of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, or
  • Both the blood or breath tests are not available, or
  • You are a hemophiliac, or
  • You are taking anticoagulant medication in conjunction with a heart condition

For how long will my driving privilege be suspended if I did submit to a the chemical test, and if I did not request or win a hearing?

If you are 21 years of age or older, took a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test, and the results showed 0.08% BAC or more:

  • A first offense will result in a 4-month suspension.
  • A second or subsequent offense within 7 years will result in a 1-year suspension.

If you are under 21 year of age, took a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or other chemical test and results showed 0.01% BAC or more, your driving privilege will be suspended for 1 year.

How long will my driving privilege be suspended for not taking the chemical test if I did not request or win a hearing?

If you were 21 years of older at the time of arrest and you refused or failed to complete a blood or breath test, or (if applicable) a urine test:

  • A first offense will result in a 1-year suspension.
  • A second offense within 7 years will result in a 2-year revocation.
  • A third or subsequent offense within 7 years will result in a 3-year revocation.

If you were under 21 years of age at the time of being detained or arrested and you refused or failed to complete a PAS test or other chemical test:

  • A first offense will result in a 1-year suspension.
  • A second offense within 7 years will result in a 2-year revocation.
  • A third or subsequent offense within 7 years will result in a 3-year revocation.

How is the DMV suspension or revocation for the DUI arrest different from the suspension or revocation following my conviction in criminal court?

The DMV has the ultimate jurisdiction over your driving privilege, and thus has the ultimate say over your drivers license restrictions, suspensions, or action. The DMV suspension or revocation is an administrative action taken against your driving privilege only. The suspension or revocation following a conviction in court is a mandatory action for which jail, fine, or other criminal penalty can be imposed.

My license was already suspended by the DMV, or it is too late for me to request a hearing. How do I get it back, or what do I need to do to get a restricted license so that I can drive?

To reinstate your driving privilege after a suspension/revocation, you must do all of the following:

  • 1. Finish the complete period of suspension/revocation
  • 2. Pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV
  • 3. File proof of financial responsibility by a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR-22), or prove you are self-insured by making a $35,000 cash deposit, or presenting a surety bond, or self insurer certificate under Section 16430 VC.
  • 4. Submit proof that you have enrolled in a qualified and appropriate level DUI program, and submit proof of completion when finished.
  • 5. You must also continue to maintain proof of financial responsibility for 3 years.

If you enroll and fail to participate or do not complete the DUI program, the department will immediately revoke your restricted license and reimpose the suspension for up to 4 months from the day your suspension began.

How Long Will My License continue to be Suspended or Revoked if I did not request or if I lost a DMV hearing?

If it was established that you took a blood, breath or urine test and the results shown are 0.08% or more, or 0.05% or more if under age 21 and had no defenses:

  • 1. First offense: suspended 4 months.
  • 2. One or more separate offenses in 7 years: suspended 1 year.

If you refused or failed to complete a blood, breath or urine test and did not have a valid defense:

  • 1. First offense: suspended 1 year.
  • 2. Second offense in 7 years: revoked 2 years.
  • 3. Three or more offenses in 7 years: revoked 3 years.

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