Driving under the influence in California may carry a variety of penalties if you are convicted, including a possible suspension of your driving privileges. However, a first time DUI arrest in California doesn't necessarily mean your license will be suspended. In fact, a license suspension after a DUI arrest is far from automatic, and you may be able to challenge it successfully.
In order to prevent the suspension of your driver's licence, you must dodge a DUI conviction in court and request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. We've broken down how you may fight your license suspension and keep your driving privileges after a first-time DUI arrest.
How Do DUI License Suspensions Work After a First-Time DUI?
First and foremost, it's important to understand that if you've been arrested for driving under the influence in California, you're subjected to a restriction known as the 10-day rule. After your arrest, the responding officer may confiscate your license and provide you with a pink slip of paper—known as a Notice of Suspension—that allows you to drive unrestricted for 30 days. At this point, the DMV begins the process of suspending or revoking your license.
Like most states, California has two separate systems that penalize DUIs. One system involves the courts and is meant to determine what criminal penalties you'll face if convicted. The other system involves the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Administrative Per Se Hearing
Before you head to trial, you have the right to contest the suspension by contacting the DMV within 10 calendar days—including on holidays and weekends—to schedule an Administrative Per Se Hearing. Failing to do so would result in an automatic license suspension after 30 days. This hearing is meant to determine if the driver had a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content or higher, whether the officer had reasonable cause to stop the driver, and if the arrest was lawful. It's important to note that you'll automatically lose your driving privileges if you don't fight the charges at this hearing.
If the DMV determines beyond a reasonable doubt that you had 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, the officer had cause to stop you, and that the arrest was lawful, your driver's license may be suspended for four months. Keep in mind that the California DMV may not fine a defendant or put them in jail; it may only suspend the defendant's license.
A Hearing in a Criminal Court
Some time after your hearing, you'll face a court which determines whether or not you are guilty of a criminal act. Note that the imposed penalties handed down at the Administrative Per Se Hearing take effect regardless of the outcome of your criminal case. That means that you may lose your license to the DMV without even being found guilty of drunk driving. Likewise, a victory at a DMV hearing has no direct effect on your DUI court proceedings.
A court conviction for a first-time DUI in California triggers a six-month license suspension, which is on top of any sanctions imposed by the DMV. However, if two suspensions are imposed, the court often allows them to overlap, meaning that the driver won't have to endure two full suspensions.
How May You Fight a DUI License Suspension After a First-Time DUI?
This Administrative Per Se Hearing is your first chance to fight any potential suspension. Having an experienced attorney by your side may be critical to your success. They may argue the following:
- The officers didn't have probable cause to arrest you
- The arrest was illegal
- Your blood alcohol level was not over the legal limit of .08%
- The officers didn't warn you that refusing a blood or breath test is a crime
- You weren't driving the car
At the criminal court hearing, your lawyer may put forth the same arguments. Additionally, they may seek a restricted license on your behalf that would allow you to drive to and from places like work and school. The restricted license requires the use of an ignition interlock device but allows the motorist to start driving right away.
Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer at the Aron Law Firm
If you've been arrested for driving under the influence and are worried about losing your license, act quickly and contact an attorney following your arrest. At the Aron Law Firm, we know how frustrating and hopeless at DUI arrest can feel, which is why our goal is to make this process go as smoothly as possible. Our highly trusted legal team understands the ins and outs of California DUI defense law and will be with you every step of the way.
The Aron Law Firm, led by William M. Aron, has experience defending countless clients against these types of charges and may help you get the best results possible for your situation. Mr. Aron has substantial experience with a broad variety of criminal cases and takes a client-centered approach to make the legal process as straightforward as possible.
Our DUI defense attorneys are ready to protect you and guard your rights. Give us a call at (805) 618-1768 or complete our contact form today.