Drunk Driving Frequently Asked Questions
Most states will suspend or restrict your driving privilege if you are arrested and charged with drunk driving. Learn how long your suspension might be, whether you are entitled to a restricted license, and what you will need to do to get your license back.
1. How long will my license be suspended for?
That depends. If this is your first drunk driving offense, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended by the DMV for a period of four months. However, if this is your first offence, your driving privilege can be reduced to one month of full suspension and five months of restricted driving.
2. What type of driving restriction can I expect?
A restricted license will let you drive your vehicle for employment purposes only. Should you want to obtain a restricted license you will need to immediately file proof of enrollment in a California approved drunk driving school, as well as written proof of your driving insurance to the DMV.
3. What if I refused to take a chemical test, will they still suspend my license?
Your driving suspension is much more severe if you refused to take a chemical test after being asked to do so by the officer. If you refused, the driving suspension turns into a twelve-month suspension and you will not have the option of a work restriction. There is, however, one major advantage to a refusal. If the matter proceeds to trial, the prosecution will not have the benefit of chemical test results to support their case. This means the prosecution will have no scientific evidence to rely on in trying to prove that you were legally impaired at the time you were driving.
4.What if this was my second DUI offence?
You should know that if this was your second offence within ten years, the DMV will suspend your license for twelve months if you took a chemical test and twenty-four months if you refused to take a chemical test.
5. How much time do I have to challenge my suspension?
You only have ten days in which to call the DMV to challenge the suspension by requesting a hearing. We strongly suggest that you do this immediately. You need to request the hearing or you will lose your right to request one later. You only have 10 calendar days from time of arrest to request the hearing. After that, the DMV will not allow you have a hearing and the suspension will automatically take effect in 30 days. You do not need an attorney to request a hearing, so don’t delay your request for one at the earliest possible opportunity.
6. Can the DMV legally suspend my driving rights?
Yes. It is presumed that you have agreed to obey the driving laws in the state in exchange for the privilege of driving on state roads. It is called the law of implied consent. It is a legal theory based on the notion that “driving” is actually a “privilege” rather than a “right”. Privileges can be taken away but rights are considered legally sacred. It is much harder to restrict a right than a privilege. The state has the power to give a privilege and it the power to take it away. So long as the state has a rational basis for doing so, it is almost legally impossible to prevent it from doing so. While this law has been challenged on constitutional grounds it remains strong.
7. What happens at the hearing?
The administrative per se hearing is conducted by an official who is an employee of the DMV. This person is neither a lawyer nor a judge. Yet he has been empowered to act as the official arbiter of your driving privileges. The hearing is conducted like a trial, but without a jury and without formal use of the rules of evidence. Your goal here is to have your suspension set aside for lack of competent evidence to prove the people’s case against you. The decision usually takes a few weeks. If you lose the DMV hearing, you should consider having your lawyer file a writ and appeal the matter.