Is Your License Suspended Immediately After a DUI in California?

Apr 13, Law Office of Conor Bell

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that comes with steep consequences. In fact, a person could face hefty fines and jail time for such an offense. In addition to this, a person could potentially have their license suspended if they are arrested for DUI. The extent of a license suspension depends on the circumstances of the DUI. However, some people may ask, is your license suspended immediately after a DUI in California?

In short, your license may not necessarily be suspended immediately after a DUI in California. There is a process and certain factors that contribute to whether or not your license will be immediately suspended. A Napa DUI lawyer can help you understand your license suspension if you have been arrested for a DUI.

DUI in California

In California, a driver can be charged with a DUI if they are driving while impaired by alcohol, determined by their blood alcohol concentration level being 0.08% or higher. This limit is 0.04% for anyone operating a commercial vehicle. A person can also receive a DUI if they are significantly under the influence of drugs, including marijuana or other controlled substances, such as opiates.

California also strictly prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from being under any substance while driving. Therefore, the legal limit for anyone under 21 is 0.01% or more.

License Suspension Penalties for Convictions in California

In California, all DUI convictions result in license suspensions. The amount of time a license is suspended and the requirements to get it reinstated depend on a number of factors, whether it is your first, second, or third offense. License suspensions come from the DMV, and they are as follows:

  • First-time DUI conviction results in a six-month license suspension
  • Second time DUI conviction within the last ten years results in a two-year license suspension
  • Third time DUI conviction in the last ten years results in a three-year license suspension
  • Fourth or subsequent DUI conviction or a felony conviction will result in a four-year license suspension, with the possibility of revocation

These suspension times can increase if the DUI resulted in the harm or injury of another person. The offender may also have to complete DUI-related classes and programs in order for their license to be reinstated. Keep in mind that these penalties are a result of a conviction, not necessarily an arrest.

Immediate License Suspension in California

There are a few cases where a person’s license will be immediately suspended in California when they are suspected of driving under the influence. These situations include:

  • Refusing to take a DUI test: California operates under the “implied consent law,” where anyone operating a motor vehicle inherently agrees to take a chemical test if they are under suspicion of driving under the influence. If they refuse to take a test, the officer will send a notice to the DMV and their license will be suspended. The amount of time their license is suspended will depend on if it’s their first, second, or third offense.
  • Failing a chemical test: If the person takes a test and it is proven that their BAC is over the legal limit (0.08%), they will also face immediate license suspension. Likewise, the officer will send this information to the DMV, and the DMV will issue the suspension. Suspension time can range from four months to one year, depending on the circumstances.
  • Prior DUI convictions: California has enhanced penalties for repeat DUI offenders. If it is discovered that you had prior DUI convictions or even prior failed chemical tests, you could face harsher punishments, including immediate license suspensions that a first-time DUI offender may not have received.

Conditional and Restricted License Options

Even if your license gets suspended, there may be options to have a conditional or restricted license during that time. In some instances, following an arrest or conviction, a person may be eligible for one of these options in order to drive under certain circumstances. For example, a person may be allowed to drive during certain hours or only to go to work or school. They may also be allowed to drive to certain court-ordered programs, such as DUI classes.

However, in order to qualify for these options, a person typically has to meet certain requirements, such as completing a DUI education program. The rules are often strict, and violating them comes with stiff penalties.


Q: What Happens When You Get Your First DUI in California?

A: When you get your first DUI in California, you will face certain penalties, assuming it is a standard first DUI that has not been classified as a felony and has not resulted in the death or injury of another person. These penalties include a misdemeanor on your record, fines, probation, and a license suspension for up to six months.

Q: How Do I Know if My California Driver’s License Is Suspended?

A: In order to know if your California driver’s license is suspended, you can check the status of your license on the California Department of Motor Vehicles website, using their online portal. You will need your driver’s license number and other identifying information in order to access this information. You can also call the DMV or visit one in person to ask.

Q: What Is the Process of a DUI in California?

A: The process of a DUI in California often includes several stages. If you are suspected of a DUI, an officer may pull you over and test you. If they have probable cause, they may arrest you. After being arrested, you will be sent to the station for booking. You will later have an administrative hearing with the DMV. Court proceedings will then follow. If you are convicted, you will receive your penalties.

Q: How Do I Get a Restricted License After a DUI in California?

A: In order to get a restricted license after a DUI in California, you must meet certain conditions. You will first likely need to complete a mandatory suspension period. This period will be determined based on a number of factors, including whether it is your first or subsequent offense. You will then need to complete a DUI education program. You will also have to provide proof of insurance and pay any required fees.

Contact the Law Office of Conor Bell Today

If you or a loved one has been involved in a DUI, you don’t have to face it alone. Contact the Law Office of Conor Bell today to speak with someone and get started.