If you have recently been arrested in the Los Angeles Area on suspicion of DUI, and it is a first-time DUI offense being charged, you may well be unfamiliar with the process and wonder if, how, and when you will get your driver's license back.
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we understand the confusion that many experience after a first-time DMV license suspension and we do all in our power to dispel that confusion and to assure our clients that DUI cases can and often are won by defendants.
We will fight hard and apply our full legal expertise in your behalf to get your driving privileges restored as soon as possible. To speak with an experienced DUI attorney about your case, feel free to call us 24/7 at 424-281-3020; but below, we offer a basic introduction to the California DUI process.
The DUI Arrest and What Happened to Your License
When you were stopped by the arresting officer for DUI, your California driver's license was confiscated and you were handed a temporary "pink slip" license in its place. This temporary license is only valid for 30 days from your arrest date, at which point if you took no action, it would expire and end your right to drive in California.
Meanwhile, your driver's license was suspended, pending your DMV hearing. However, you do not automatically get a DMV hearing but must call your local DMV office and request one within 10 days of your arrest. If you fail to call in time (and weekends are included, that is, these are not "business days"), you lose your right to a hearing.
Thus, while you may have been kept in jail for a short period following your arrest to ensure you left sober, the state of your license after your DUI arrest is best described as "in limbo."
What Specifically Can Get Your License Suspended in California?
In California, there are numerous reasons that the DMV might suspend your driving privileges. We will focus on those related in some way to DUIs, but briefly, here are some other possible reasons:
- Driving without valid auto insurance. This can get your license suspended for from 1 to 4 years.
- Repeated traffic violations that lead to "excessive points" on your driving record. This can lead to a year-long "driving probation" period and a 6-month license suspension.
- Vandalism, which carries a 1-year license suspension.
- Failure to pay or appear in court to challenge a traffic ticket.
- Failure to pay child support.
The failure to report a traffic accident in which you were involved can also lead to a suspension, and if it was a hit-and-run DUI, your sentence would be enhanced.
Underage drinking and/or DUI. This is punishable by either a year-long license suspension or the loss of your license until you turn age eighteen.
Refusal to submit to a blood-alcohol content (BAC) chemical test when the arresting officer attempted to administer it to you. This violation is treated very seriously since it undermines the "implied consent" theory that all who drive on California's roads agree to submit to such tests. A 1-year license suspension is the usual sentence if convicted.
Finally, a standard DUI violation, for driving under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating drug, will lead to a 6-month license suspension in most cases for a first-time conviction. However, it is possible, especially with the help of an experienced DUI lawyer, to successfully petition the judge for a restricted license that will allow you to drive to/from work and DUI school. A 2nd or 3rd DUI conviction could cause a loss of your license for as long as 2 to 4 years.
How Do I Get My Driver's License Reinstated?
For now, you can use your temporary "pink license," and by requesting a DMV hearing and informing them you need time to find/hire a defense lawyer, you can usually ensure the temporary license will be good up until the day of your scheduled DMV hearing.
If you win your hearing, your license will be immediately reinstated, but it is still possible (if not especially likely) that you will have to go to court anyway and win there in order to retain your license. A good DUI lawyer can help get your DUI thrown out at the DMV hearing by challenging the validity of the BAC test results, probing for violations of your rights during the traffic stop and/or arrest, casting doubt on the trustworthiness of the police report, and by various other defense strategies. These same strategies would also be used in the jury trial, if there is one.
If you lose the DMV hearing and/or are convicted of DUI in an actual court case, you can apply for a restricted license after a mandatory period of 30 days without any driving privileges in the state of California.
In order to get your license permanently and fully reinstated, however, you would have to fulfill all of the requirements placed on you in your sentence or DMV hearing ruling. For a first-time DUI offense, these would likely include:
- A 6-month license suspension period.
- Completion of a state-approved DUI class at your own expense (often around $500).
- Pay all fees and fines, often between $390 and $2,000.
- A jail term of 48 hours, though this could possibly be exchanged for community service.
If you refused the chemical test or someone was injured in an accident that took place during your DUI incident, DUI classes, fines, jail time, and license suspension periods will all be enhanced to some degree, depending on the details of your case.
However, even after you have completed your sentence, you must pay a reissuance fee (of $125) to the DMV, show your certificate of completion for your DUI class, and produce form SR-22 showing proof of financial responsibility.
Note that Form SR-22 has to do with getting car insurance coverage following your DUI. In some cases, you will be required to buy extra insurance, and your insurer will send SR-22 to the DMV after you make the required purchase from them. If, however, you have trouble finding an insurance company that will let you buy the required policy, you can get assistance from the California Department of Insurance by calling 800-927-HELP.
The process of getting your license restored will be much shorter, easier, and less complex if you win your DMV hearing, which underscores the importance of availing yourself of a good DUI lawyer who can build you a solid defense. Walking into your hearing or trial without the aid of a DUI expert "fighting in your corner" would greatly reduce your chances of winning your case.
Contact Us Today
At Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, we have deep experience in winning first-time DUI cases. Often, we can get the DUI dropped at the DMV hearing or win a dismissal or acquittal in court.
In other instances, we fight hard to obtain the best possible outcome, which may mean the charge being lowered to wet or dry reckless driving or a felony DUI being reduced to a misdemeanor. A favorable plea agreement might also get you a restricted license, avoid jail time, or otherwise reduce your sentence.
For help in fighting your DUI and getting your license reinstated as soon as possible, contact Los Angeles DUI Lawyer anytime 24/7/365 at 424-281-3020.