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Do You Keep Your Driver’s License If You Get a DUI?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Feb 23, 2022

DUIs in California, and in particular, Los Angeles, have become more and more prevalent and severe. Today, we cannot afford to lose our driver's licenses. We've got to work. We have a family.  We have jobs and bills.  My law firm certainly understands that.  So, when somebody comes in and has a DUI and is worried about losing their license, I tell them the following. 

If it's your first DUI and nobody was hurt, there's a very strong possibility we can do a lot to help you with your license.  However, if you get convicted of your first DUI, you will lose your driving privilege for 30 days. After that, you will get a restricted license for some time.  You will have to put in an ignition interlock device on your car and jump through some other hoops as well.

That's pretty much the bare minimum related to first-time DUIs in California.  Once you start talking about your second, third, and fourth DUI, now you're talking about some serious license restrictions by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  Our Los Angeles DUI lawyers will review this topic further below.

First-Time DUI in California

After your first-time California DUI arrest, you must request a DMV hearing within ten days, or your license will be suspended. You usually will not lose your driver's license immediately after a DUI arrest. This usually occurs if you fail to request a DMV hearing or lose the hearing.

Do You Keep Your Driver’s License If You Get a DUI?

When facing a first offense DUI, you need to know the California DMV will attempt to have your license suspended due to an admin per se violation (APS).

As noted, after getting arrested on a first-time DUI offense, you are given just ten days in which to request a DMV hearing from the California Department of Motor Vehicles that will put a temporary hold on the suspension of your license.

If no hearing is requested, the DMV could automatically proceed with your driver's license suspension. Only defendants arrested for DUI with a BAC of .08, or greater will be facing an administrative driver's license suspension as defined under California Vehicle Code 13353.2 VC.

Thus, if you submitted to a chemical test where the blood alcohol concentration level was below .08, then the DMV will not suspend your license for an APS violation. If your BAC was above .08, you must request the DMV hearing. You should know the chances of winning the DMV hearing are low but are better if you have retained an experienced DUI lawyer.

If you can win your hearing, then no administrative license suspension is imposed. If you lose your hearing, the DMV will suspend your license for four months. However, as noted, they usually allow someone to keep driving during the suspension with an agreement to install an ignition interlock device in their car.

A court conviction for a first-time California DUI automatically triggers a six-month license suspension as defined under Vehicle Code 13352(a)(1).  However, the judge will not impose the suspension. Instead, the court will notify the DMV and impose the suspension.

There is no driver's license suspension if you can get the DUI charge reduced to reckless driving or something other than driving under the influence.

Driver's License Suspension After a DUI Conviction

Suppose you are convicted of a DUI offense, regardless of the DMV's administrative suspension. In that case, you are facing a situation where your license will be taken away, but how long will depend on the details of your case.

Your license will be suspended for more extended periods for each DUI within ten years from the date of your first DUI arrest. The length of time your license will be suspended will vary but usually falls within the following:

  • First DUI offense is six to nine months;
  • Second DUI offense is up to two years;
  • Third DUI offense is up to three years;
  • Fourth DUI is up to four years or permanent revocation of license.

Further, some aggravating factors could result in a longer driver's license suspension if you are convicted of driving under the influence in California, including:

  • Refusal of a chemical test can add one to three years to your suspension;
  • Your DUI resulted in the injury or death of an individual;
  • If you were on DUI probation when you were arrested for a new DUI charge, it would add one additional year to your license suspension.

The California DMV can permanently revoke your license for four or more DUI convictions, or if your DUI resulted in a serious injury, a manslaughter charge, or you were convicted of a DUI murder charge, known as a second-degree “Watson murder.”

How Can I Protect My Driver's License?

So, the bottom line is, if you want to do everything you possibly can to keep your driver's license, pick up the phone right now if you've got a DUI.  Call the Hedding Law Firm. 

Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding to talk about exactly what we can do to help you protect your driver's license.  We realize how important it is for you to provide for your family.  We know that Los Angeles, for example, is a commuter city where you have to be able to drive.

California DUI Attorney

So, what we do is get a game plan together right from the beginning to try to preserve and protect your driving privilege.  We're going to have to look at precisely what you did in your case, whether or not your blood alcohol level was a .08 or greater, whether they can prove that you were driving at the time that the police came upon you. 

Sometimes people are pulled over on the freeway.  Sometimes people have to leave their car.  Sometimes they are involved in an accident.  There's a whole bunch of different things that can happen. Not all DUIs are created equally, just like not all DUI defense attorneys are created equally.  I've been doing this now for 30 years.  I've worked for the District Attorney's office to see how they deal with DUI cases.

I've worked for a Superior Court Judge to see how judges resolve essential issues. Finally, I've been a DUI defense attorney since 1994, defending people just like you, helping them save their driver's license, allowing them to minimize the damages to their driver's license.

So, if you want the best -- if you want somebody who will tell it to you like it truly is -- you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you preserve your driver's license. Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case consultation.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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