Attorney at Law

DUI & Driver's License


Following an arrest for DUI involving alcohol or refusal to take a chemical test, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is empowered under the Administrative License Suspension Program (Admin Per Se), to immediately begin the process to suspend or revoke the driver’s California driving privilege.

DMV Admin Per Se actions are independent from the court process, and begin before innocence or guilt has been determined in court.

DMV rules governing driving privilege after DUI change every year and differ widely depending on each driver’s age, driving history, type of license and circumstances of arrest. To complicate matters further, not only is there a drivers license suspension that generally begins 30 days after the arrest, but the drivers license suspension may be lengthened and/or re-imposed at the conclusion of the court case.

Regardless of guilt or innocence an attorney can help you explore and understand potential defenses, guide you through your re-licensing process and assure that you receive the best possible outcome in your case. If you wonder if an attorney can help you, my experienced staff will be happy to not only discuss the California DMV hearing process with you, but can also give you a fee estimate.

Below is an outline meant to give you a general idea of what to expect concerning one’s driving privilege following arrest for a first alcohol-related DUI during an ordinary traffic stop. Your experience may be different depending on your situation.


The discussion below assumes that at the time of arrest the driver was over the age of 21, did not refuse to submit to a chemical test and had a valid Class C (non-commercial) California drivers license with no preexisting holds, revocations or suspensions. I have not included discussion of any special circumstances such as arrest following a car accident in which someone was injured or the rules governing Class A drivers.

First-time Alcohol-related DUI Arrest

Time of Arrest

The arresting officer will demand that the driver surrender his or her California Drivers license and will give the driver a 30-day Temporary License, which is printed on a pink letter-sized piece of paper.

Many drivers apply at DMV for a California ID Card to use for identification purposes until they again become eligible to obtain a drivers license.

Within 10 Days

The driver may request an Admin Per Se hearing by a DMV hearing officer concerning his or her impending drivers license suspension. The telephone number to request the DMV hearing is printed on the upper right-hand corner of the pink paper Temporary License.

Depending on when the DMV hearing is scheduled, a stay may be placed on the drivers license suspension, which will allow the driver to use a temporary license until the outcome of their hearing. DMV will mail that white paper temporary license to the driver or his or her attorney with their Notice of Hearing.


If the driver will be seeing an attorney before the 10-day time limit is up, they can advise him or her whether to request a hearing.


After 10 Days

If an Admin Per Se hearing is not requested within 10 days, the driver in most cases loses the right to request a DMV hearing. If the driver will be unable to consult with an attorney before the 10-day time limit is up, it may be best that they request an Admin Per Se hearing to protect their rights.


After 30 Days

If a hearing is not requested the pink paper Temporary License expires 30 days after the DUI arrest and the driver cannot drive for any purpose.

If the driver was cited for alcohol-related DUI, his or her drivers license is suspended for four months commencing the day after their Temporary License expires.

Depending on when the DMV hearing is scheduled there may be a “stay” on the drivers license suspension and a new Temporary License issued, which would be valid until the decision by the DMV hearing officer is made. That Temporary License is generally mailed to the driver or his lawyer with the Notice of Hearing packet from DMV. The Temporary License pending hearing is a letter-sized white sheet of paper that must be signed in the center of the page and carried by the driver.


After DMV Hearing


If the driver does not prevail at his or her DMV hearing, DMV will mail them or their attorney a notice with the outcome of the DMV hearing and their drivers license will be suspended for four months, which will commence on the date specified in the notice.


The outcome of the DMV hearing does not establish innocence or guilt in the court case. In other words, if you win your DMV hearing, that does not mean you have won your case and does not excuse you from appearing in superior court.


After 30 Days Suspension


After the first 30 days of the four-month drivers license suspension most drivers may apply for a restricted license, which would allow them to drive to and from work and to and from the State-approved alcohol education program.


Restricted License

The driver should to obtain a Requirements to Reinstate form from DMV, which will outline the necessary steps the driver must take to be re-licensed and the first date he or she is eligible to apply for a restricted license. If the driver has additional issues other than the present DUI, those requirements will also be listed on the Requirements to Reinstate.

Generally, the driver will be required to enroll in the State-approved First Offender Three-Month Program, provide DMV with an SR-22 from their auto insurance carrier and pay a fee to DMV. At the time of this writing, the DMV fee is $125. The State-approved program in Humboldt County is the H.A.R.T. Program. If you live in another county, you may look on the DMV website for a list of approved providers. See my Links page for a link to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.


Conviction of DUI

If the driver pleads guilty to DUI the Court will notify DMV of the conviction. The driver will then receive a computer-generated notice from DMV suspending his or her drivers license for six months. The length of the suspension for most first offense DUI’s is a total of six months, which means that any part of the initial four-month Admin Per Se suspension already served will count toward the six months. It will be necessary to ask the clerk at DMV to calculate the new length of suspension. During the remaining suspension period the driver is immediately eligible to apply for a restricted drivers license as outlined above.


Conviction of Wet-Reckless

The Court typically requires defendant to complete the State-approved Wet-Reckless Program as a condition of probation. However, DMV does not require the wet-reckless classes to reinstate the drivers license. DMV does require the driver to have served the four-month Admin Per Se drivers license suspension, provide an SR-22 from their auto insurance carrier and pay a fee to DMV.

Reinstate Drivers License

Driver must have served all of the periods of suspension, complete the appropriate State-approved alcohol education program, provide and maintain an SR-22 from their auto insurance carrier, and pay reinstatement fees to DMV. The SR-22 requirement will last three years.


Most DMV notices are sent by mail to the last known address of the driver or to his or her attorney. However, it is not unusual for the driver not to receive their notice. Any suspension or revocation will go into effect regardless of whether the driver receives a notice. If the driver has been arrested for DUI and is not sure whether their drivers license is still valid, I would encourage them to call DMV to confirm their license status to avoid risking a second arrest for driving on a suspended license.

 Comments about Driving on a Suspended License

I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of making sure you obtain a valid license again before you drive. Driving on a suspended license that has been suspended for DUI or refusal to test carries different consequences than if one's license is suspended for any other reason. Driving when your drivers license is suspended for DUI will land you in superior court and could result in huge fines, loss of your vehicle and a jail sentence.

Neal I. Sanders
Attorney at Law
320 I Street
Eureka, California 95501

PHONE: 707-442-4200
FAX: 707-442-1650

Business Hours:

Mon-Thursday 8AM-5PM
Friday 8AM-noon

Closed daily from noon-1PM

Closed weekends and court holidays 
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