Driver’s License Suspension
When a motorist is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, the individual is given a choice to submit to either a blood or breath test in order to determine the person’s blood alcohol concentration. If a blood or breath test indicates that the individual’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.08% or if the individual refuses to submit to the chemical test, the arresting officer will immediately confiscate the individual’s driver license. If the driver is licensed to drive in a state other than California, the arresting officer will not confiscate driver’s license.
At this time, the motorist will be provided with a pink sheet of paper notifying the individual of the suspension of their license, an explanation of the laws and procedures involved in a license suspension, and a temporary license valid for thirty (30) days, provided the driver’s license was not expired and the individual was not driving with a suspended license.
Following a DUI arrest, an individual or the individual’s attorney has ten days (10), including weekends and holidays, to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to schedule an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing in order to contest the license suspension. Failure to schedule a hearing with the California DMV within the allowable time period will result in the automatic suspension of the driver’s license which takes effect thirty (30) days following the driver’s arrest.
The Driver Safety Office division of the California Department of Motor Vehicles is the entity that presides over these APS hearings. Specially trained hearing officers employed by the Driver Safety Office act as both the prosecutor and the judge in these hearings. During the hearing, an individual’s attorney can question witnesses, examine evidence, and assert objections to the DMV’s case.
Following the Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing, the DMV hearing officer will issue a ruling regarding the status of the individual’s suspended license. If it is determined by the hearing officer that there was no basis for the license suspension or revocation, the individual’s driver license will be returned. If the individual’s license suspension is upheld, the suspension will be instated for a period of four (4) months, or longer, if the individual has prior DUI convictions. If the individual refused to submit to a chemical test, the license suspension will be extended to a period of one year.
If the individual was under the age of twenty one at the time of the arrest and submitted to a chemical test or preliminary alcohol screening test, the individual’s driving privilege will be suspended for a period of one year, as stated in the Zero Tolerance Law. Following the completion of the one year license suspension period, the cost to reissue the individual’s license if the individual was under the age of twenty one at the time of arrest is $100.
If a hearing officer determines the license suspension was valid, the motorist is eligible to apply for a restricted license from the DMV. In order to apply for the restricted license, an individual must be able to show proof of enrollment in a DUI treatment program, provide proof of financial responsibility (i.e. California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR-22)), and be able to pay the $125 mandatory license reissuing fee. This restricted license allows the individual to drive to and from their DUI treatment program and, if applicable, to and from work.
Neither a plea to a reduced offense or a dismissal of criminal charges is a valid defense to a driver license suspension. The only court proceedings that have any impact on the DMV and an individual’s license suspension are an acquittal or a finding of innocence on a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152, subdivision b, driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or above.