In most states, committing a serious driving offense might lead to revocation or suspension of your driving privileges. However, California State law penalizes drivers for committing less serious traffic violations. For example, a simple first-time DUI in Orange County might lead to revocation or suspension of your driver's license compared to running a red light, in which you might just pay a fine.

If you or your loved one have been arrested for first-time DUI, run to Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm for legal assistance. We boast of a team of attorneys well-versed with California DUI law and have a good track record for defending different people against cases related to suspension driving privileges. They will not only help you win the DMV and court hearings but also have your driving privileges reinstated.

What You Need to Know Once You Are Arrested

After the arrest, the arresting officer is required to forward a completed notice of revocation or suspension form to the DMV. If they have confiscated your driver’s license, they also need to send it to the DMV along with a sworn report. 

However, if you are arrested for a first-time DUI, your immediate concern is not your DUI court case. Before preparing for a court hearing, your attention should be focused on requesting a hearing from the California DMV, which has administrative rights to suspend or revoke your driver's license. 

 Note: The “administrative procedure” is entirely different from a typical criminal DUI case.

What Can Prompt Suspension or Revocation of Your Driver's License?

According to California law, different violations may lead to the cancellation of your driving license. The law enforcement agency, the DMV or the court of law have the authority to take your driver’s license away if you are successfully convicted of a DUI offense. There are many reasons why your driving privileges may be revoked or suspended.

Here are some of the reasons that may lead to revocation or suspension of your driver's license:

  • Failure to pay child support
  • You have a medical condition like epilepsy
  • Eye vision issues
  • You lack insurance for your vehicle
  • The court has issued a warrant of arrest for you
  • You were arrested (or even convicted) for DUI
  • You were convicted for reckless driving
  • As a result of DUI convictions or prior traffic violations, you have already accumulated many traffic points on your driving license
  • Failure to appear in court “in good time” on a traffic violation
  • Convicted or arrested for possessing a controlled substance
  • Failure to file a report with the DMV after arrest or “any DUI related incidence.”

DMV License Suspension For First Offense DUI

Once a case of traffic violation is established, the DMV can easily take up your case. Once the DMV takes up the case, the department assesses a certain number of points with regard to your driving record. If you accumulate too many points, the DMV will suspend your license.

According to California State law Vehicle Code 13352a (1), a successful conviction for a first offense DUI charge will attract an automatic 6-month license suspension. However, you can also have the DMV suspend or revoke your driving privileges as a result of APS (or administrative per se violation).

According to the law, you have ten days to request a DMV hearing once you are arrested for a first-time DUI offense. That puts a temporary hold on your driving license.

Under  Vehicle Code 13353.2, if you are arrested for DUI and have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more, you will have your driver’s license suspended by the DMV.

But, in case you submitted to a chemical test, and results in BACs levels below 0.08, the DMV won’t cancel your driving license. However, in case your BAC results come back 0.08% and above, you will need to book for a DMV hearing.

Requesting For a DMV Hearing

If you or the attorney don’t request for a DMV hearing, your driving license will be automatically suspended. California law requires you to put up a request for a DMV hearing within ten days of the arrest. Depending on the situation, the DMV conducts the hearing either in person or over the phone.

Failure to request a DMV hearing means a suspension of your driver's license will begin after the temporary 30-day driver’s license expires. On the other hand, if your request for a DMV hearing is made within ten days, the DMV will delay the suspension of your driver's license until you complete the hearing.

Unfortunately, there are very slim chances that you will be successful at the DMV hearing. But, if you are represented by an attorney who understands the intricacies involved in defending the first DUI DMV hearing, there are high chances of winning. If you win, no suspensions or revocations will be imposed. Otherwise, if you lose, the DMV will revoke or suspend your driving license. However, you can still win a DMV hearing and be convicted of a DUI in a court of law. That means your driver’s license will be suspended, and the DMV won't be able to stop that.

Three Questions Asked at the DMV Hearing

At the DMV hearing, you will be asked three questions. It is your response to these questions that help them determine whether to suspend or delay the suspension of your driver’s license. The three questions are:

  • Did the police follow the due legal procedure when arresting you?
  • Was your BAC level at the time of arrest at 0.08% or even higher?
  • Was there a probable cause that meant the police to believe that you were DUI?

Can You Drive on a Suspended Driver's License in Orange County, CA?

According Vehicle Code 13353.3 and California Senate Bill 1046 (2018) the California DMV allows you to drive anywhere (even when your driving license is suspended) provided:

  • You have a restricted license.
  • You have installed an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle.

How Can an Experienced Attorney Help You With DMV Hearing? 

When you are arrested for DUI, you have no right to any legal representation during the field and chemical tests. But once your driver's license is confiscated, you are required to request a DMV hearing. At that point, you have the right to legal representation by your DUI attorney.

A DMV hearing is different from a court case. But, having an excellent attorney on your side increases your chances of winning and thus avoids revocation or suspension of your driver's license.

There are several benefits you can gain from hiring an excellent attorney:

  • A perfect opportunity for you to quickly expose possible misconduct by the investigations officer. That's why they will find the weak points in the prosecution’s case
  • Increased possibility of restoring driving privileges
  • Your attorney will cross-examine the arresting officer
  • Your lawyers may use the officer’s transcript to negotiate for a lesser charge or favorable penalty in case of a successful conviction

Losing your DMV hearing means the DMV will suspend your driving license for a period of between four months and three years. The suspension depends on whether you submitted for a chemical blood test or whether you have prior DUI.

Court-Triggered License Suspensions for a First-Time DUI

If you are convicted of a first-time DUI in California, your license is automatically suspended for six months. That is, according to Vehicle Code 13352(a) (1).

A judge doesn’t impose this suspension. If you are convicted, the court will notify the DMV. It is the DMV that suspends your license. On the other hand, if you get the DUI reduced to other offenses other than DUI, say, reckless driving, there won’t be a court triggered suspension.

It is the court that determines whether you are guilty or not guilty of any criminal act. That means if you are acquitted DUI by the court, the court is going to reverse the decisions (any penalties) imposed by the DMV.

Differences Between the Processes Surrounding DMV and Court-Triggered License Suspension Proceedings

When it comes to punishing DUI offenses, the DMV and court trials are independent of each other. However, the DMV solely handles the driving privileges of the driver. Besides, it also handles driver’s privileges and the circumstances around the arrest. Court trial, on the other hand, determines whether you are guilty of the DUI or not.

Other differences between the DMV and the court proceedings include:

  • It is up to you to decide whether or not to have a DMV hearing. Again, the choice of securing legal representation for the hearing is up to you. Court processes, on the other hand, demand either you or your attorney to be present during all hearings
  • Your win at the DMV hearing has no direct effect on court proceedings and verdict
  • The DMV can only perform an administrative action that will work against your driving privilege. This decision is independent of any criminal penalty, sanction, charge, or decision. But there are exceptions to that. If you are acquitted of DUI charges by the court, revocation or suspension of your driving privileges may be reversed if the DMV determines that the court verdict translates to an acquittal on the charge of Code 23152(b). That is driving with 0.08% BAC or higher
  • You can request a new DMV hearing within one year of your arrest date. That is when the District Attorney doesn’t file your DUI charge because of insufficient evidence (and later dismissed by the court as a result of insufficient evidence or when a DUI charge was dismissed
  • The court may reduce the DUI charge to reckless driving, but that won’t change the penalty (suspension) imposed by the DMV

What Happens Once Your Driving License is Suspended or Revoked?

Some situations can lead to suspension or revocation of your driving license. That means, before you obtain a new one or the suspension lifted, you will never be able to drive. Thankfully, California law allows you to get a restricted license if your original driving license was suspended or revoked after the first DUI.

Types of Restricted Licenses

A restricted license allows you to school, place of work, or drug store. Unlike the standard driving license, there are places you cannot go on a restricted driver's license.

There are two types of restricted licenses:

Restricted License

A restricted license allows you to drive to and from school, work, drug store, and California DUI School. If your driving license is revoked or suspended, you need to file an SR22 form with the DMV for you to obtain a restricted driver’s license. 

IID Restricted License

Short for Ignition Interlock Device, IID is a kind of breathalyzer that will stop your car from starting if it detects you are drunk. If you install it in your motor vehicle, the DMV allows you to drive your vehicle anywhere, even if your driving license is suspended or revoked.

What are the Differences Between Revocation and Suspension?

While both terms refer to punishments meted out by the court/MDV, the two terms represent different (things/issues). The main difference has to do with the process by which you get back your driving privileges.  

  • Suspension – Refers to a temporary loss of our driving privileges. But, you can automatically be reinstated if you meet certain conditions
  • Revocation – This refers to a more serious deprivation of your driving privileges. At times, they may be permanent. At times, you may be required to reapply for a license once you are eligible

How Can You Avoid Suspension or Revocation of Your Driver's License?

Having your driving privileges suspended or revoked can be highly inconveniencing. For you to prevent that, you need to:

  • Ensure you request a DMV hearing within ten days of your arrest
  • Do all you can to avoid a DUI conviction in the court
  • Very important. Don’t just go for any attorney. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight your first-time DUI charges

What Are the Conditions for Reinstatement of Your Driving Privileges?

When the DMV suspends your driving privileges, it remains suspended for a specified time. Similarly, a revoked license means that you cannot apply for a new driving license for a specific time. But, you don’t have to wait out the revocation or suspension period.

However, for you to qualify for reinstatement, you must meet some conditions (alongside fines and jail times):

  • Payment of reinstatement fees
  • Must participate in an alcohol or drug evaluation (and possibly treatment
  • Show proof of financial ability
  • Payment of any child support arrears

How “Zero Tolerance Law” Affects Your Driving Privileges

If you are an underage driver, you are not allowed to have a conventional driver's license. Instead, you will have a Provisional License. If you hold this type of license, then you will have to follow specific conditions/provisions. These provisions govern the hours when you can legally drive and who you can be in your car.

Zero Tolerance Law is the only law that applies to all drivers under 21 years of age and other provisional drivers. Under Vehicle Code 23136 VC, you violate this “Zero Tolerance Law” if you:

  • Are under 21 years old
  • Fail to submit to the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test
  • Were driving with detectable alcohol content in your blood system of about 0.01%. Under this law, you don’t need to be DUI or impaired
  • Fail to complete the PAS test

Under this statute, the under-21 DUI is not regarded as a crime. If you are arrested with a 0.01% BAC in your blood system, you are liable for a suspension of your driving license.

How Can the Prosecution Prove that You Violated the Zero Tolerance Law?

A DUI prosecutor must prove two elements for you to be deemed to have violated the “Zero Tolerance Law”:

  • You are (or were) 21 years during the time of the arrest.
  • You were personally driving the vehicle.
  • You had a detectable amount of alcohol in your blood system.

Penalties Under VC Code 14601 and 14602.6 for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

There are times you might be tempted to drive while your license is revoked or suspended. If you do not have a valid restricted license, you're doing so can result in criminal charges for driving with a revoked or suspended license. 

The penalties incurred for driving with a suspended or revoked driver's license include jail time, fines, and increased sentences, especially for repeat offenders.

California Vehicle Code 14601 and 14602.6 prohibits drivers from driving when their driving licenses are suspended or revoked.

The penalties, according to the statute include:

  • For the first offense, conviction attracts imprisonment for five days and six months and a fine of between $300 and $1,000
  • Subsequent offenses attract prison periods of between ten days and a year. Then a fine of between $500 and $2,000

How Can the Prosecution Prove that You Were Driving on a Suspended License?

There are certain elements that the prosecutor must prove in a court of law to prove that you were driving on a suspended driver's license.

Under Vehicle Code 14601, the prosecution must prove:

  • You were driving a motor vehicle while your driving privileges were revoked or suspended
  • You knew that your driving privileges were revoked or suspended or when you drove the vehicle

The first part element is easier to determine. It only requires proof that you were driving. You also have to prove that at the time of arrest, you had no driving privilege to do so. The second element, on the other hand, is more difficult to prove.

Under Vehicle Code 14601, you are presumed to know of revocation or suspension if:

  • The DMV mailed an advisory notice with regard to your driving license revocation
  • The advisory/notice was mailed your most recent address provided to the court, the DMV, or any law enforcement agency
  • The notice wasn’t returned to the court or the DMV as unclaimed or undeliverable

If the prosecution can prove that such happened, then you will have a hard time proving how you never received the notice. If the prosecution proves that you were informed by a court that your driving privilege was either suspended or revoked, then your knowledge is presumed.

How Can You Defend VC 14601 Charges in Los Angeles?

There are different ways you can defend yourself if you are accused of driving with a suspended or revoked driver's license. Some of the defenses you or your attorney can put up for your defense include:

Lack of Knowledge

The prosecution needs to prove that you drove the vehicle fully aware that your driving privileges were revoked. That is why California State law includes provisions that presume knowledge. For your defense, your attorney will need to prove to the court that the notice wasn’t sent to your real address. Again, he or she can argue that the court and the law enforcement agencies didn’t inform you that the suspension or revocation meant that you would lose your driving license

You Were Driving on a Restricted License

Another defense the prosecution can put up is that you were driving on a restricted license. As a result, your driving was not in violation of Vehicle Code 14601.

Hire the Best First-Time DUI Attorney Near Me

Many complications may arise when you are charged with a driving violation. The hefty fines, prolonged prison periods, or even the risk of suspension or revocation of your driving license may greatly inconvenience you. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the intricacies around a first DUI driving license suspension will be of great help.

Feel free to contact us today if you are charged with driving without a license. Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm has a team of experienced and aggressive attorneys that will be ready to help you. If you are not sure where to get started and are in Orange County, feel free to call us at 714-740-7866 for a free consultation.