One of the most dreaded things when it comes to DUI offenses is getting your driver’s license suspended or revoked in California. The inconvenience of not being able to drive freely is unbearable, considering one needs to drive to work, school, or running errands. When you get arrested on a DUI offense, the DMV will, in most cases, suspend your license. If you do not defend the impending suspension or are found driving with a BAC beyond the legal limit, a suspension may be inevitable. DUI offenses are priorable offenses meaning with every repeat offense over ten years, and the penalties increase depending on your prior sentences.
This is the same with a license suspension. The first offense attracts a lesser license suspension compared to a subsequent offense. Fortunately, you can still fight against license suspension and win the case. For this to happen, you need an experienced DUI attorney to fight the allegations against you. At Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have years of experience defending our clients against DUI charges and license suspension with favorable outcomes.
Overview of Driver’s License Suspension in California
Driving under the influence is an offense in California severely punished by the law. The harsh penalties are designed not only to punish offenders but to act as a deterrent for others that may want to drive when intoxicated. The law takes the harsh stand against individuals arrested for drunk driving because they are not only a danger to themselves but to other road users as well.
For every DUI arrest a driver gets, there is a possibility of getting their license suspended. A court process can trigger the suspension of a defendant’s license, just the DMV. The court and the DMV are two independent bodies, with each having its mandate and independence. When both the court and the DMV issue license suspension against an individual, the two suspensions run concurrently.
However, the longer sentence is what gets imposed. For instance, a court may suspend for two years while the DMV imposes for a year or vice versa. In implementing the suspension, the most prolonged suspension of the two gets usually imposed.
For a person to get their license suspended in court; however, they must go through a trial to prove they are guilty of the DUI offense they got accused of. If the defendant is not found guilty of the crime, a suspension will not get imposed on their license. Neither will they face other penalties. The offender may also get a mistrial, or the jury may get hung due to a technicality. This means the defendant is let go, and the charges get dropped.
It is essential to understand that, in most cases, the outcome of the court process will not affect the decision by the DMV to suspend your license. The two methods are independent of each other, and your case gets defended before each entity on its merit.
When the Court Suspends Your License for a Second DUI
When you are facing a second DUI charge in ten years from your first charge, a conviction is likely to trigger a suspension on your driver’s license. The suspension on your second DUI is typically longer than that of the first DUI offense. For a court to suspend your driver’s license for a second DUI, it means you have a prior conviction of a DUI offense or wet reckless in ten years.
A suspension of your driver’s license for your second offense is usually for two years. However, although a judge will give you this sentence, the court does not impose or implement it. The court, however, informs the DMV of its decision for them to implement the penalty.
Your lawyer can, however, engage the prosecutor to charge you with a lesser offense. This is known as plea bargaining. If your lawyer can have your charges reduced to those of reckless driving, your license will not get suspended by the court.
If you are not found guilty of the allegations brought against you or the case leads to a hung jury or mistrial, you will not get your license suspended by the court.
Getting Your License Suspended by the DMV for a Second DUI Offense
When you get faced with a second DUI offense, the DMV will try to get your driver’s license suspended based on an administrative per se violation (APS).
Once you get arrested on your second DUI violation, your license is taken by the arresting officer, and you get issued with a temporary license for thirty days. The arrest gets reported to the DMV along with your license. After the DMV receives communication from the law enforcement department that arrested you, they will issue you with a notice informing you of the impending suspension of your license. From the date you receive the announcement, the DMV allows you ten days of which you should request a hearing.
This hearing is accorded to the driver to come and defend the possible suspension of their license. If the driver does not request the hearing within ten days, their license will get automatically suspended. If a driver requests for the hearing, a date is set where they will present their case before a DMV officer.
ortunately, a driver is allowed to have a lawyer represent them during the hearing. Having a lawyer present increases your chances of winning the case. A DUI lawyer has experience in the questions the DMV officer will ask and can question the evidence by the arresting officer.
A police officer can stop you for suspected drunk driving or any other probable cause. Once ordered to stop, a series of field sobriety tests will get carried out against you. A defendant is not obligated to submit to the tests. However, when one is serving DUI probation for a prior offense or below 21 years, the law expects them to submit to these tests.
The law prohibits underage drinking making it mandatory for individuals below 21 to take the field sobriety tests. When one is serving DUI probation, they get forbidden from driving with any traceable amount of alcohol in them. Additionally, they are required to agree to random chemical tests to check their intoxication. This makes it mandatory for individuals falling under these categories to submit to field sobriety tests. If they refuse, the act has consequences, with one of them being an automatic suspension of their driver’s license.
If you do not fall under the categories above, you can still get your license automatically suspended when you refuse to submit to a chemical test. When you are a holder of a California driver’s license, it automatically means that if arrested on a DUI suspicion, you will submit to a chemical breathalyzer test. A refusal for this when lawfully arrested will trigger an automatic suspension on your license. An automatic suspension typically means that the driver does not get a chance to fight against the suspension.
When you lawfully get arrested for a DUI, the arresting officer will require you to submit to a chemical breathalyzer test. If the results show you are above the legal limit, you will have your license on administrative suspension, according to VEH 13353.2.
The legal BAC limit for regular motorists is 0.08%, while that of commercial drivers is 0.04%. When you submit to a chemical test, and your BAC results are lower than the legal requirement, your license will not get suspended. However, when the BAC results come back above the legal limit, your license will get suspended, but you can get this decision reversed when you request a hearing to defend yourself.
When you prevail during the hearing, you will not have your license suspended. When you lose the hearing, you will get your license suspended for a year when you have a prior DUI conviction. Fortunately, you can still enjoy driving to any place even when your license gets suspended as long as you install an ignition interlock device on your car.
The Difference Between Court and DMV Triggered Driver’s License Suspension
As earlier stated, both the DMV and the court carry out their proceedings independently. The DMV only deals with your privilege to drive and the facts of the DUI arrest. The court proceedings, on the other hand, are focused on establishing if an offender is guilty or innocent of the offense they get charged with.
Other distinctions between court proceedings and the DMV are:
The DMV hearing is an option, and having an attorney represent you as well is optional. On the other hand, a court hearing is mandatory, with the court expecting your lawyer or yourself to be present for the process.
Winning a DMV hearing will not directly impact your court DUI proceedings. An officer that hears your DMV case will only take action against your privilege to drive. This is an independent decision from that of the court process where the defendant gets faced with criminal charges.
In case you lose at the DMV hearing, you have a right to another hearing in a year from the date you got arrested. However, this only happens if the DUI charges against you in court get dismissed, or the DA fails to file them when there is a lack of evidence. The allegations can also get dropped after filing due to insufficient evidence. When you are a victim of an illegal search and seizure, according to PEN 1538.5, you can also get your charges dismissed. All these circumstances make it possible to request another DMV hearing to challenge the suspension of your license.
If your lawyer gets you prosecuted on a lesser offense that will not result in a license suspension by the court, this will not affect the DMV’s decision to suspend your license.
A second DUI court case may result in harsher penalties than those of license suspension only. It is likely that if found guilty, you will face a jail sentence. The DMV, however, will not consider your harsh penalty as a reason to adjust the charges against you.
Getting a Restricted Driver’s License after a Second DUI Offense
As earlier stated, the state of California allows you to enjoy your driving privileges as long as you fulfill certain conditions. When you have been convicted of a second DUI offense and got your license suspended, you can obtain either an IID restricted driver’s license or a restricted driver’s license. Both these licenses will allow a person to drive, but they each carry certain conditions.
IID Restricted Driver’s License
This is the ignition interlock device license. The IID is a breathalyzer device that prevents the starting of a car if it detects alcohol in the driver’s breath. If you install this device in your vehicle, the DMV allows you to drive to any place while your license is under suspension.
When the device is installed in your vehicle, before you start it, you must provide a breath sample. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start. Once the vehicle starts, the device will demand periodic breath samples to check if you are still without alcohol in your breath. The equipment also records the findings that are used by the court in evaluating your progress. If you try to tamper with the device or it records that you have attempted to drive while drunk, you may be found in violation of your probation. This may trigger the court to revoke the probation sentence and order you to jail instead.
To get an IID restricted driver’s license, however, you must provide an SR22 form. This form is provided by your insurance company to verify that you have met the state’s required obligation of auto insurance. Once you have purchased your auto insurance, the insurance provider will mail the SR22 certificate to the DMV.
Another requirement for getting an IID restricted driver’s license is to show that you have enrolled in a DUI school. This is one of the conditions when sentenced to DUI probation. Once you enroll in the school, the details are sent to the court as well as to the DMV. Your progress at the school gets communicated to both the DMV and the court. A failure to attend and complete the DUI school program can see you get your IID license revoked as well as your probation sentence.
Once you have fulfilled all the requirements, you will get issued with an IID restricted driver’s license that lasts for a year.
Just as the name suggests, a restricted driver’s license controls where a defendant can drive and not drive. This type of license allows the holder to drive to their place of work and back. One can also drive to school or DUI School and a hospital when necessary.
To get this license, you must get an SR22 form as is also a requirement when getting an IID restricted driver’s license. The DMV may also require you to maintain the SR22 with them for three years from when you received a restricted license.
Whether you want to get an IID restricted driver’s license or a simple restricted driver’s license, one of the other qualifications is having submitted to a chemical test. If you refused to get a test done, you would not get a license, and your privilege to drive will get suspended for the year.
Reinstating your Suspended Driver’s License
When the DMV suspends your license, it means your driving privileges get temporarily revoked. Even after you have had an IID restricted driver’s license or a restricted license, it is not the same as having your original license reinstated. The limited licenses compared to your regular license only last a year, and you would be required to apply for them again.
Before you begin the process of reinstatement of your license, you understand and do the following:
Allow for the suspension period to come to an end then start the process of reinstating your license.
Once the suspension period is over, you will not get your license automatically reinstated. You must initiate the process of reinstatement by applying for the reinstatement.
You must also follow the process of reinstatement. This process often differs depending on why the license got suspended.
This means you must evaluate your suspension and the reasons for the suspension. Once this gets established, you need to look if there are special requirements to get your driver’s license reinstated. Suspension of driver’s license can be due to multiple reasons or offenses. Depending on the circumstances leading to your license suspension, the following steps will help in getting it reinstated:
The first step is always to ensure you have completed the period of suspension.
Pay the reinstatement fees as directed by the DMV.
Present evidence of successful attendance and completion of a DUI school program
Provide proof of financial responsibility through getting an SR22 form
Resolve all the requirements of your sentence such as paying fines and restitution where applicable
Pay the required fees for license reinstatement.
Driving on a Suspended License
The state of California makes it an offense to drive with a suspended license knowingly. When your license gets suspended on a second DUI offense, you will get informed of it. If you decide to keep driving despite this knowledge, when arrested, you will get prosecuted for violating VEH 14601. A conviction for this offense carries harsh penalties as must driving offenses do.
Proving Violations of VEH 14601
When you get arrested for driving with a suspended license, the prosecutor must prove certain elements of the offense to get convicted. These elements are:
You were driving while your driver’s license is revoked or suspended and
You were aware that your license is on suspension or got revoked.
This means, to be found guilty of this offense, you must know that your license was on suspension, and you drove anyway. The prosecutor will prove that you knew by:
Presenting evidence that the notice suspending or revoking your license was mailed to you by the DMV
The notification got sent to your recent address and
The DMV never received the notice back as unclaimed or undelivered.
If the prosecutor can prove his or her case against you, the judge will issue you with penalties for the offense.
Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License
When your license was suspended due to a DUI offense, driving with a suspended license will see you face misdemeanor charges. A conviction for this offense will see you receive the following penalties:
You can get sentenced to informal probation lasting three years or less.
County jail imprisonment ranging between ten days and six months
Getting ordered to pay a fine not exceeding $1,000
Getting ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
Legal Defenses against Driving on a Suspended License
When charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, your lawyer can defend you against these allegations. Some of the defenses used for this offense are:
You Had No Knowledge
One of the elements to get a guilty verdict for this offense is to prove that a defendant was aware their license was on suspension and drove anyway. For this reason, an accused person can use this defense against the charges when they did not know about the suspension.
Your lawyer can argue that the notice was mailed to your old address and was never forwarded to you. This can also get accompanied by evidence of when you moved out from your previous address and how long you have been at your new address.
Your License Was Not Suspended
You can only be guilty of this offense if your license was suspended. Your lawyer in defending you can show that you had a legally valid license at the time of arrest and you had misplaced it or left it somewhere. If this gets proved, you can get the charges against you dropped.
Under this defense, your lawyer will show that you had a good and reasonable reason to commit the offense. If your reason for driving on a suspended license is convincing enough, the charges can get dropped.
Find a Lawyer Near Me
Getting your license suspended on a DUI charge can be a severe consequence, especially when you need to drive to carry out your errands. Being unable to drive freely can be frustrating for any person used to no restrictions. Fighting against your second DUI offense is necessary to avoid getting your license suspended for the DUI. For this reason, you will need to engage an experienced DUI attorney to fight the allegations on your behalf. At Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm, we have a team of dedicated lawyers that will commit to defending you against the claims. Reach us at 714-740-7866, and let us fight these charges for you.