For many people, the most serious consequence of a DUI charge is having their driver license suspended. Most of us depend on having a license. We need to drive to work. We need to drive to the grocery store. We need to drive to medical appointments. Figuring out how to accomplish these things without a license can be very challenging. The bigger challenge, however, might be figuring out the confusing rules governing license suspensions for a DUI charge.


The first thing to know is, if you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, then your Driver License will be immediately suspended by the DMV. The DMV will suspend your license even if the District Attorney never files charges. This suspension has nothing to do with the court. The second kind of suspension is the suspension you will face if you are eventually convicted of the DUI in court. Now, let’s break down the differences between these two suspensions so there are easy to understand.


Pursuant to Vehicle Code section 13353.2, the DMV automatically suspends the license of any driver that that is cited for driving with blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%[1][2] or more. This is an Administrative Per Se (APS) suspension. The APS suspension for a first DUI lasts four months and begins thirty days after the driver is notified of the suspension[3][4]. The driver is typically given notified documentation by the arresting agency or notified by mail. When the arresting agency gives the driver the notification documentation, the officer will likely take their license. The notification the officer provides also doubles as a 30 day temporary license.

You can fight this suspension. Drivers, or their attorney, can request a hearing within ten days of the arrest[5]. The most important benefit from requesting a hearing is that DMV will delay your APS suspension pending the outcome of the hearing. Often times this is the sole goal of requesting an APS hearing. The temporary stay gives you some measure of control for when your suspension will start and can give you critical time to make arrangements.

At the hearing the DMV will look at two things. 1) Did the officer have probable cause to stop the car? 2) Was the driver’s BAC over 0.08%. The chances of winning the hearing are slim, mostly because of the low standard of proof the DMV uses[6], but it is not impossible. Again, the primary goal is to control when the suspension will start.


The DMV suspension mentioned above is a pre-conviction suspension that is likely to be imposed before the district attorney has even filed criminal charges. If you are eventually convicted of the DUI, then the court will send a notice to the DMV alerting them to the conviction. This will lead the DMV to suspend your license for six months per Vehicle Code section 13352(a)(1).

If your license was first suspended by the DMV as an APS suspension, and then suspended following a conviction, your license should only be suspended for the six months.[7]


Your license will be suspended but hope is not lost. Applying for a restricted license can get you back on the road, for at least some purposes. The DMV will issue a restricted license if you meet three criteria:

  • Be enrolled and be able to provide proof of enrollment in a DUI class.
  • Submit proof of insurance. Form SR-22
  • Pay reinstatement fee of $125.
  • Installation of an IID – *Sacramento County Only*

The “restriction of the driving privilege shall be limited to the hours necessary for driving to and from the person’s place of employment, driving during the course of employment, and driving to and from activities required in the driving-under-the-influence program.” Vehicle Code section 13352.4(c).

You will have to serve a mandatory 30-day suspension before applying for a restricted license.


The Chastaine Law Office understands how important it is for you to keep your license. We know how to cause question as to why the officer stopped you and how to evaluate the legitimacy of the breath or blood test. If those two paths don’t work, then we know how to manipulate when your license suspension will go into effect. We will guide you through getting a restricted license, help you find the right DUI program and follow up with you every step of the way. You are not alone in this process. Give us a call and let us show you what we can do for you.

[1] For drivers under age 21, the DMV automatically suspends the license when the BAC is 0.01% or higher. For commercial drivers, the DMV automatically suspends the license when the BAC is 0.04% or higher.

[2] Drivers cited for driving under the influence of drugs are not subject to an APS suspension. If your license is suspended for a drug DUI, then the DMV should be contacted immediately.

[3] Vehicle Code section 13353.3(b)(1)

[4] The automatic suspension for second or third DUI is one year

[5] Vehicle Code section 13558

[6] Vehicle Code section 13557

[7] Vehicle Code section 13556