Is a Driver’s License Suspension Automatic for a First-Time DUI in California?

October 9, 2019

There are ways to avoid having your driver’s license suspended

A form from the DMV suspending a driver's license.

For many Californians who have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the worst part is the possibility of having their license suspended. In most situations, a fist-time DUI won’t lead to jail time. While the other penalties — such as hefty fines and fees and DUI school — are burdensome — it is often the prospect of being unable to drive that is most challenging for people.

Many people believe that a license suspension is automatic if you have been charged with a DUI in California. According to a DUI defense lawyer Santa Ana, CA, this is not the case. If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time (or if it is your first arrest within the 10 year “lookback” period), then you may be able to prevent a license suspension.

There are two ways that you can prevent your license from being suspended. These methods mirror the two-pronged California DUI process: administrative and criminal. First, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will attempt to suspend your license in what is known as an administrative per se violation. That is the first time that you can challenge a license suspension. Second, your license will be suspended by the court (via the DMV) if you are convicted of a DUI. Your DUI defense lawyer Santa Ana, CA can fight back against DUI charges to help you avoid the suspension.

After you are arrested on a first-time DUI offense, you will be given 10 days to request a DMV hearing. If you request a hearing, this will stop what would otherwise be an automatic suspension of your drivers’ license. Importantly, this type of suspension only occurs if your chemical blood or breath tests reveals a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. If your BAC was below .08 (the legal limit), then you will not be subject to an administrative suspension.

By requesting a hearing, you have an opportunity to challenge the sufficiency of the state’s evidence against you in front of the DMV. This is not a criminal case. It is an administrative hearing where your DUI defense lawyer Santa Ana, CA can argue that the state does not have enough evidence that you committed the crime of DUI (or that the arresting officer violated the law). If you win the hearing, then your license will not be suspended by the DMV at this point. If you lose the hearing, then it will be suspended by the DMV — but you can typically install an ignition interlock device (IID) and be allowed to drive during your suspension.

The second place to challenge a license suspension is in court. If you are convicted of a first-time DUI in California, it will automatically trigger a 6 month license suspension (imposed by the DMV). Your DUI defense lawyer Santa Ana, CA will defend you vigorously against the DUI charge — and if you are found not guilty, then your license will not be suspended.

Although the DUI process can be overwhelming, it is important to know that you have options to fight back and protect your rights. The Chambers Law Firm can help you, from your initial arrest to the final disposition of the case. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or to learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation.

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