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.
What Are the Real Costs of a California DUI?
Some who are facing their first DMV DUI hearing and are unfamiliar with the multifaceted financial and other costs of a California DUI may be surprised to learn how high they can actually be. In light of these expenses, which we will survey just below, it is an extremely wise investment to hire a top-tier DUI defense lawyer who can help you defeat your DUI charge or at least minimize the penalties and consequences.
Even a 1st DUI conviction can ultimately cost you $10,000 to $25,000 or even more, depending on the details of your case and your life situation. If aggravating factors, like serious property damage, infliction of bodily injury on one or more other people, an extremely high BAC, traffic violations like excessive speeds or recklessness, or repeat offenses within a 10-year look back period are involved, the expense will be significantly higher.
And it is no accident that DUIs cost so much. State governments, including California, make it that way on purpose to deter people from drinking and driving. After all, the human cost of DUIs is staggering: dozens die daily from DUI accidents nationwide, and thousands suffer serious and/or permanent injuries from DUIs every year.
Here are some of the likely financial costs of a first-time, non-aggravated DUI in California:
- Bail bond fees, which can be in the hundreds to thousands of dollars range.
- Towing and impoundment fees, which can run from $100 to over a $1,000.
- Court-imposed fines and fees, which can run to as much as $2,000 in all.
- Alcohol treatment programs, which can cost you around $500 or more.
- A community service supervision fee of maybe $50, besides the time lost doing the work.
- A jail fee of $10 to $50. (Jail is not something you thought you would have to pay for to experience.)
- An ignition interlock device, if required, could cost you $500 to $1,500, when initial installation and maintenance fees are fully tallied.
- A probation supervision fee, in some cases, could cost you up to $1,000.
- Being forced to use alternative transportation, be it buses, taxis, car rentals, or whatnot, could easily add up to $1,000 more than what you would have paid using your own vehicle.
- A license reissuance fee of $125.
- $5,000 to $10,000 extra in car insurance premiums over a period of 10 years (when the DUI finally no longer is a priorable offense on your record). And this doesn’t account for the extra fees for SR-22s and the extra time and hassle of searching for an insurer who will cover you despite your DUI.
And while the insurance costs may seem like the highest cost involved, the cost of losing one’s license for at least 6 months is often the real highest cost. For, that often results in one losing his or her job. This is especially so if your job involved driving, but even the loss of ability to get to work and back for several months will easily lose you your job in most cases. Immediate loss of income and the inability to get a new job that paid as much as your old one is often the top expense.
But for younger drivers who get a DUI, especially for those under the legal drinking age of 21 and who are already in high-risk insurance brackets due simply to their age and relative lack of driving experience, insurance may indeed end up being the highest expense. Over a 10-year period, younger drivers convicted of even a first time DUI could spend tens of thousands of dollars extra on auto insurance premiums.
And what does all this have to do with hiring a California DUI lawyer for your upcoming DMV hearing? Simply this: a skilled DUI lawyer will know how to maximize your chances of winning a dismissal based on police misconduct or violations of your rights or of winning the hearing based on evidence found in your favor or based on exposing weaknesses in the evidence brought against you.
And even when a victory at the hearing can’t be attained, there is the chance of winning in a jury trial later on. Plus, even when you can’t get a total victory at the DMV hearing or the court case, your DUI lawyer can negotiate a plea agreement that helps you stay out of jail, get a restricted license so you need not lose your job or can at least find another good job, get fines lowered, and save you money in other ways. Ultimately, a good DUI lawyer can also help you get the DUI expunged from your record, which will alleviate its expenses and impacts all the more.
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.