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What you can expect at the DMV after a DUI arrest

Nothing can ruin a fun night out faster than being pulled over for suspicion of driving while under the influence (DUI). Imagine having a night out with your friends at your favorite watering-hole, then seeing the red and blue lights in your rearview just a few blocks from your house.

While a DUI is a serious charge in California, it is possible to fight it. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to know your rights and options. A California criminal defense attorney can advise you on your case. Read further for what you can expect at the Department of Motor Vehicles after a DUI arrest.

DMV review

If the arresting officer took your license, he or she must forward a copy of your completed notice of suspense or revocation form and a copy of your license to the DMV. The officer also has to forward a sworn report about the incident to the DMV.

Once received, the DMV will automatically review the report, the suspension or revocation order, and the results of any intoxication tests you took. If the DMV supports your license suspension or revocation, you can request a hearing to contest their decision.

Getting back your license

After the suspension or revocation period ends, the DMV will return your license. However, you will have to pay a $125 reissue fee and file proof of financial responsibility. If the DMV's review of the suspension or revocation ends in your favor, it will reissue or return your license without invoking the fees.

The suspension period

If you took a blood test or breathalyzer at the time of your arrest and it resulted in a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher, you could face a four-month driver license suspension if it was your first offense. However, if you have prior offenses within the last 10 years, the DMV can suspend your license for one year.

Applying for a restricted license

You cannot submit a request at the DMV hearing for a restricted license. Instead, you can apply at any DMV field office for a restricted license. This type of license will allow you to legally drive to and from work while your official driver license is suspended.

DMV suspension vs. court suspension

When someone is arrested for a DUI, the DMV takes immediate action by temporarily suspending the individual's license. It is an administrative action. These sanctions are completely separate and independent from court ordered actions, such as jail, fines or other criminal penalties.

A DUI charge can have very serious consequences. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important that understand all of your options so legal advocacy is recommended. 

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