California Administrative License Suspension

Administrative License Suspension Laws in California

One penalty for DUI that many people are most concerned about is license suspension. When a person is accused of DUI in California, the DMV will move to automatically suspend their license due to, what is called, an administrative per se violation (APS). Under California Vehicle Code Section 13353.2, a driver will face immediate administrative license suspension under the following circumstances:

  • The driver had a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% or more while operating a vehicle
  • The driver had a blood-alcohol concentration of .01% or more and was under the age of 21
  • The driver had a blood-alcohol concentration of .04% or more and was operating a commercial vehicle
  • The driver was on probation for violation of DUI or DUI with injury and had a blood-alcohol concentration of .01% or more.

Unlike other types of license suspension, APS suspension occurs only when the driver has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit. Driving while impaired may lead to a DUI charge, but it will not also result in administrative license suspension.

According to 13353.2 VC, blood-alcohol content can be measured by a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test or another chemical sobriety test. This is important because PAS tests are not as accurate as other sobriety tests. If a test is off by even .01%, this could make the difference between losing your license and keeping it.

The California APS Process

If you are stopped by police and meet any of the requirements above, you will be arrested for suspicion of DUI. The arresting officer will also take your driver's license and issue you a temporary license as well notice of the order of suspension. The notice of suspension may also be mailed to a suspect. Under 13353.3 VC, a driver has 30 days after a DUI arrest until their license is suspended.

The order will provide information on why your license us being suspended as well as what you can do to challenge it. In California, you only have 10 days after a DUI arrest to request an administrative hearing. This hearing will be your only chance to fight APS license suspension. An attorney can help you file this request as well as assist you during the hearing.

At the DMV hearing, you and your DUI lawyer will have a chance you argue you defense. This trial has nothing to do with your criminal trial and you are only allowed to argue that the results of the BAC test were not accurate or that the police had no right to stop you in the first place. Winning a DMV hearing will have no effect on your criminal trial.

Even if you lose your hearing, there are options. First of all, if you are acquitted of your DUI charges or the court finds that the results of your BAC test were invalid, your license will be reinstated. If the charges are dropped due to lack of evidence or dismissed by a judge, you will have another chance to request a DMV hearing and present this information.

How Long Will My License Be Suspended?

According to California Vehicle Code section 13353.3, the period of administrative license suspension of a DUI suspect whose BAC was over the legal limit will be as follows:

  • A driver who has had no other DUI or DUI related conviction in the past 10 years, did not refuse a chemical sobriety test and was not driving with a blood alcohol content that was excessively high will face 4 months of license suspension
  • A driver who has had no other DUI or DUI related conviction in the past 10 years, did not refuse a chemical sobriety test and was not driving with a blood alcohol content that was excessively high will face 4 months of license suspension
  • A driver who has had one or more conviction for a DUI or DUI related offense in the past 10 years, refused a chemical sobriety test or was driving with a blood alcohol content that was excessively high will face 1 year of license suspension

If a driver is given a one year license suspension, they still have options. They may be eligible for a restricted license after 90 days that allows them to drive to and from school or work. They may also get their license reinstated early if they agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID). Commercial drivers are not eligible for restricted licenses.

Call A California DUI Lawyer Now

If you have been arrested for DUI in California and are concerned about losing your license to administrative suspension, it is important that you act now. You only have ten days to request a hearing with the DMV to fight this suspension. Our attorneys help clients through the APS suspension process every day. We will file the hearing request for you and represent you at the hearing itself.  If we are not able to convince the DMV to stop the license suspension, we will work to get you a restricted license.

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