Has the California DMV recently revoked or suspended your driver’s license? Has the DMV sent you a notification threatening to revoke or suspend your driving privileges? San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm has been handling cases like yours across San Jose, CA over the years. Whatever the reason for the suspension is, we can help get the problem solved as discussed in this guide.

The Logic Behind a DMV-Imposed License Suspension

Once you are arrested for a DUI offense, the arresting officer must forward a copy of a completed revocation or suspension notice form to the DMV. The officer will also take your driver's license and submit it. The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) will carry out an administrative review on your case. Administrative reviews usually involve examining an officer's report, the revocation/suspension order, and any accompanying test results.

You can request a hearing to contest the revocation/suspension if the DMV upholds the revocation/suspension during the administrative review. Your request must be made within 10 days of you receiving the revocation/suspension order. If the administrative review finds a lack of basis for the revocation or suspension, the DMV will set the action aside. The DMV will also notify you in writing about their decision to do so.

Does a DMV License Suspension Differ from a Court-Imposed One?

The arresting officer will issue you a Temporary License together with an Order of Suspension following your DUI arrest. If you are not detained in jail, you may drive for up to 30 days from the date you received the suspension order. Most drivers do not know how to differentiate a DMV license suspension from a court-imposed one.

The DMV-imposed suspension takes the form of immediate administrative action against a person's driving privileges. This type of action is known as an APS (Administrative Per Se) action. Sanctions enforced by the DMV under Administrative Per Se are independent of court-imposed penalties. The court-imposed penalties for a DUI conviction, in this case, may include fines or jail sentences.

DUI and DMV License Suspension

A typical DUI arrest may make you lose your driver’s license for a period ranging from thirty days to several years. Factors such as prior wet reckless or DUI convictions will determine the timeframe for the suspension. The DMV may impose a longer suspension on your license if you refused to have a DUI breath test or blood test administered on you. While you will be worrying about your DUI court case, you will not manage to operate your vehicle until the suspension is lifted.

While there are drivers who continue driving following a license suspension triggered by DUI, it is unlawful to do so. Driving on a suspended license is a crime on its own. You may face jail time or be asked to pay hefty fines for committing this particular crime. You should be patient with the procedures involved in reinstating a California driver’s license.

Does a DUI Arrest Automatically Lead to a License Suspension?

License suspensions imposed by the California DMV are never automatic when it comes to DUI offenders. You have to abide by various rules to fight the suspension. For instance, agreeing to get an IID expertly installed in your cars may result in the DMV, allowing you to drive to any place during your suspension period.

DUI Chemical Tests and DMV License Suspension

If you are 21 years old or above and took a chemical test that revealed a BAC of 0.08 percent or more, a first-offense DUI will lead to a 4-month DMV license suspension. A second or subsequent DUI offense, committed within ten years, will result in a one-year DMV license suspension. If you are below the age of 21 and took a PAS (preliminary alcohol screening) test that revealed a BAC of 0.01 percent or more, the DMV will suspend your license for one year.

California's DUI laws require you to submit to a DUI chemical test used in determining the drug or alcohol content of your blood. The test may be in the form of a blood, urine, or breath test. The license suspension may last for one year for a first-time DUI offender refusing to take the test. A second offense DUI carries a 2-year revocation while a third/subsequent offense DUI carries a 3-year revocation for drivers that refuse to submit to the chemical test.

Trigger Factors for a DMV License Suspension

One of the most common reasons behind a DMV license suspension is a DUI arrest. Once the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspends or revokes your license, you will not be permitted to operate any motor vehicle. You will only gain your driving privileges once the DMV lifts the revocation or suspension and reinstates your license. Here are the various reasons the DMV would suspend your license following a DUI arrest:

Too Many Points on Your Driving Record

Having excessive points on your California driver's license may prompt the DMV to place you under a one-year driving probation. Your probation may include license revocation or suspension for up to six months. The number of points on your driving record will determine the length of the revocation or suspension.

Lack of Insurance

If you get in a car accident while your vehicle lacks proper insurance, a four-year suspension will be imposed on your license. Your license may be reinstated after a year if you submit proof of insurance to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The reinstatement can only be facilitated if you maintain the proof of insurance for the remaining three years of the suspension.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Conviction

Since the State of California has one of the toughest laws against DUI in the U.S, a first-time DUI conviction usually carries a six-month license suspension. You may have the chance to petition the suspension to be granted a restricted license. If you face a second-time and third-time DUI conviction, the suspension may last for two to up to four years.

Failing to Report an Accident

The first thing to do when involved in a car crash is to check whether the other driver needs help. You should offer help by calling an ambulance or giving first aid to the victim. Law enforcement officers will also expect you to report the incident to them. Failing to do so may result in you being arrested for a crime of hit and run or a license suspension.

Underage Driving

Committing the crime of underage driving will result in you losing your driving privileges. The DMV will also confusticate your license for up to one year or hold it until you are 18 years old. If you were too young to operate the vehicle at the time of the arrest, you risk having your right to obtain a California driver's license delayed by up to one year.

Failing to Take a Chemical Alcohol or Drug Test

A chemical drug or alcohol test is mandatory when suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The officer who stopped you will administer a breath test to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you refuse to take the test and you get convicted, you risk facing penalties such as a license suspension and a longer jail sentence.

Failing to Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket

Most drivers ignore the effect a single traffic ticket can have on their driver’s license. One thing they do not know is that missing a court appearance for a traffic ticket can result in a DMV license suspension. You also risk being arrested and charged for skipping the court date.

Suspension Imposed on a Commercial Driver’s License

With a CDL (commercial driver's license) you can operate vehicles such as a double trailer, school bus, or vehicle that transports hazardous substances. Other examples of commercial vehicles include a vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or higher and a vehicle that transports over ten people in one trip. Operators of commercial vehicles must meet a higher professional standard while driving than regular drivers.

You may face a DUI charge and a one-year license suspension for driving a commercial vehicle with a VAC of 0.04 percent or more. If you have two DUI convictions on your criminal history, you risk facing a lifetime CDL suspension. Commercial vehicle drivers are not eligible for a restricted driver’s license once convicted of a DUI offense.

DMV License Suspension for Out-of-State Drivers

Since out-of-state drivers are not spared by California’s DUI laws, they risk facing DUI charges together with a DMV-imposed license suspension when arrested for a DUI. In this case, they risk facing a DUI charge for having a 0.08 percent BAC or higher. A license suspension imposed by the California DMV may affect your driver’s license if your home state is part of the IDLC. Abbreviated as IDLC, the Interstate Driver’s License Compact allows 45 states in the U.S to share information regarding serious driving offenses and violations.

Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Georgia are not part of the IDLC. If your driver's license was issued in one of these states, information regarding your arrest or license suspension may not reach your home state. Once you receive an Order of Suspension from the California DMV, your driving privileges in California will be automatically revoked.

What Should You Expect Following a DMV License Suspension?

Once the DMV labels you as a negligent driver (or operator), an automatic suspension will take effect on your state-issued driver’s license. You will not enjoy your driving privileges for a particular time frame. In this case, driving privileges allow you to drive a motor vehicle of any kind legally. The reason behind the suspension will determine its severity.

A short-term license suspension can be associated with a case in which a driver fails to show up in court after allegedly committing a traffic offense/violation. The suspension is usually imposed to give you a reason for showing up in court. The same still applies to a case in which you fail/refuse to pay child support or a fine. Expect the following outcomes for a license suspension imposed for a severe traffic violation or excessive point accumulation:

  • Being placed on probation for up to one year

  • The DMV suspends your driver's license for one to twelve months

  • Being ordered to enroll in driving courses such as a DUI program for a DUI conviction

  • Receiving an Order of Suspension/Probation from the California DMV

  • Facing jail time for serious offenses including evading a peace officer

  • Paying for a new (non-driver) I.D card

  • Obtaining a restricted license for use under special circumstances

  • Having an IID (ignition interlock device) installed by an expert in your car

  • The DMV revoking your license entirely for violating the license suspension orders or committing another traffic offense

Obtaining an SR22 Form Following a DMV License Suspension

Also known as the safety responsibility form, an SR22 is a form issued by a car insurer to verify your eligibility to the state-recommended requirements for vehicle liability insurance. Your insurer must file this form with the DMV to verify and confirm your eligibility to these requirements. You may be asked to obtain an SR22 due to the following reasons:

  • DUI conviction

  • DMV-imposed license revocation or suspension once the DMV considers you as a negligent driver

  • Failure to pay your parking tickets

  • Violating a Vehicle Code

When you are ready to have your driver's license reinstated, filing an SR22 is mandatory. The DMV will immediately suspend your license if you fail to maintain or file this form. You may file an Owner's Policy Certificate for vehicles you own or an Operator's Policy Certificate for vehicles you drive. A Broad-Coverage Policy Certificate is also a type of an SR22 form covering the financial responsibility of vehicles you own or do not own.

Can an SR22 Help You Obtain a Restricted License?

You may have an SR22 filed to help you obtain a restricted license following DUI-triggered probation. Restricted driver's licenses are only to be used when driving to and from designated places such as school, work, home, or a DUI school. The DMV usually issues this type of license to drivers who file a copy of an SR22, maintain the required attendance in a DUI school and pay a $15 reinstatement fee.

DMV Hearing

A DMV hearing is a type of administrative hearing meant to help drivers seeking to have their license suspensions or revocations lifted. You must schedule one with the DMV following a license suspension due to a DUI arrest, driving with a mental/physical condition, license fraud, or operator negligence. DMV administrative proceedings usually take place at designated DMV offices. Expect a hearing officer from the DMV to preside over your case rather than a judge.

Though the DMV hearings are calmer and less complicated than court proceedings, you will still need to present various facts to win your case. You may attend the hearing in person accompanied by your lawyer or have it administered over the phone. Your rights at this proceeding will include the right to cross-examine witnesses, testify, subpoena/present witnesses, and review and challenge the evidence.

Why the DMV Offers DUI Defendants the Right to a Hearing

The Federal and State constitutions both state that no individual should be deprived of any property without the due process of law. In this case, the due process of law gives you an entitlement to a notice of the exact action the DMV plans to take against you. It also gives you a chance to share your side of the story and be heard in a hearing. Your DMV hearing will take place whether you are innocent or guilty of a DUI offense.

Scheduling a DMV Administrative Hearing

Contact a driver’s safety office located near your area of residence to schedule this hearing. You only have ten days following your arrest to request a hearing or forfeit your right to request one. Your attorney can help you schedule this administrative proceeding in time to increase the odds of beating your case.

DMV Hearing Decisions

The DMV hearing officer will arrive at a decision after evaluating the facts surrounding your particular case. Factors such as your current driving record, prior violations of a Vehicle Code, and agreeing to take a chemical test may help guide this decision. The officer will focus on the following issues:

  • Were you operating a motor vehicle with 0.08 percent or more by alcohol weight in your blood?

  • Did the officer wrongfully arrest you?

  • Did the officer have a reasonable cause to assume you violated Vehicle Codes 23140, 23153 and 23152 while operating a motor vehicle

  • Were you informed about the one-year suspension imposed on licenses belonging to drivers who refuse or fail to take a chemical test?

  • Did you fail to complete or refuse to submit to the test when a peace officer requested you to do so?

You may expect the DMV officer to either reverse the license suspension or impose a suspension on your driver’s license. A DMV officer can only reverse a license suspension after you prove that you are not a negligent driver. Once you win at the DMV hearing, you immediately retain your California driving privileges. You will still have to attend your court hearing if you have a pending one since the DMV hearing decision will not affect the verdict reached during your court trial.

Procedure for Getting a Driver’s License Reinstated

A DMV license suspension does not necessarily bar you from regaining your driving privileges. You can request for a license reinstatement from the DMV depending on the reason behind the suspension. Contacting the DMV is the first thing to do if you wish to get the license reinstated. The reinstatement procedure will include the following procedures:

  • Completing a mandatory prison sentence, program or suspension period

  • Providing proof of insurance

  • Visiting a local California DMV office carrying the required documentation

  • Paying a reinstatement fee

What are the Consequences of Driving on a Suspended License?

Driving on a suspended license is unlawful pursuant to Vehicle Code 14601 of the California laws. You may be arrested for driving while your state-issued driver’s license is suspended and knowing that the license was suspended at the time the officer stopped your car. The DMV usually sends drivers whose licenses are suspended a notice regarding the suspension via mail under VC 14601.1.

Once arrested, you will be booked at the police station for committing a misdemeanor. Penalties for this criminal charge include a fine, county jail sentence or both. You may also be sentenced depending on the reason your license was suspended and your driving history. Having prior convictions for traffic violations or driving on a suspended license may also make the penalties severe.

The DMV usually asks DUI drivers to have an IID in their vehicles following a license suspension. An ignition interlock device operates as a small version of a breathalyzer attached in your car to prevent you from driving while you are drunk. The device will prompt you to submit alcohol-free breath samples at random times.  Other consequences for driving a vehicle with a suspended driver’s license include:

  • A county jail sentence (ranging from six days to ten months) and a $300 to $1,000 fine for a license revocation brought by a DUI conviction

  • Being locked up for up to six months in county jail or paying a $300 to $1,000 fine for a license suspension/revocation due to reckless driving, negligent operations or drug/alcohol addiction

  • A 30-day county jail sentence or a fine of $1,000 for a habitual traffic offender (HTO) arrested for driving with a suspended license

  • Up to six months in county jail or $300 to $1,000 fine for a license suspension/revocation due to a refusal to take chemical drug/alcohol test

  • A $300 to $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail for a license suspension/revocation triggered by general reasons

Hire a Reliable DUI Defense Lawyer Near Me

With a DUI defense lawyer’s help, you can schedule and attend a DMV hearing to have a license suspension lifted. Working with San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm, which operates in San Jose, CA, can help you gain your driving privileges. Call 408-777-6630 for a professional consultation on your DUI or DMV related case.