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Los Angeles DUI: Administrative Suspension vs. Court Suspension


Los Angeles DUI: Administrative Suspension vs. Court Suspension

After a DUI arrest in California, there are two separate processes that can suspend your driver’s license – the DMV administratively and the court as part of sentencing. Understanding the difference is critical.

The DMV suspension happens automatically after an arrest if you fail or refuse chemical testing. The court suspension occurs only if convicted of DUI criminal charges. Both can result in months or years without driving privileges.

This article explains administrative vs. court DUI license suspensions in Los Angeles. We’ll cover the suspension process, time periods, and steps to getting your license back after each type of suspension.

DMV Administrative License Suspension

The DMV is authorized to immediately suspend the license of any driver arrested for DUI who:

  • Fails a chemical BAC test
  • Refuses to submit to BAC testing

This happens long before your criminal DUI charges are resolved in court. It’s an “administrative per se” action requiring no court proceedings.

The Administrative Suspension Process

Here is how the administrative per se license suspension process works after a DUI arrest:

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  1. You are arrested for DUI and asked to submit to a chemical BAC test
  2. If you fail the test or refuse to take it, the officer serves you with a temporary license good for 30 days
  3. The officer confiscates your actual license and forwards it to the DMV
  4. The DMV mails you an order of suspension taking effect in 30 days
  5. Your license remains suspended until you request a DMV hearing

This automatic process happens outside of the court system. The suspension is mandated by California’s implied consent law for submitting to BAC testing.

Suspension Periods

Here are the administrative license suspension periods after failing or refusing a DUI chemical test:

  • 1st Offense – 4 Months
  • 2nd Offense – 1 Year
  • 3rd Offense – 3 Years

These are mandatory minimums. The DMV cannot make exceptions or allow restricted licenses. You must serve the full suspension term.

Getting Your License Back

To regain your license after an administrative suspension, you must:

  • Request a DMV hearing within 10 days and challenge the suspension
  • Provide proof of enrollment in a DUI program if suspended for a 1st offense
  • File an SR-22 form showing proof of insurance
  • Pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV
  • Serve the full suspension period

Completing these steps allows you to regain your full driving privileges once the suspension term ends. Your license remains suspended until you win at a DMV hearing or serve the suspension.

Court-Ordered License Suspension

If you are convicted of DUI charges in criminal court, the judge will impose their own license suspension as part of your sentencing.

Court Suspension Process

Here is how a court-ordered DUI license suspension works:

  1. You are charged with DUI based on the arrest
  2. You plead guilty or are found guilty at trial
  3. The judge suspends your license as part of your sentence
  4. DMV is notified and implements the court suspension
  5. You must complete DUI classes before reinstatement
  6. DMV reinstates your license once the suspension ends

This suspension only happens if convicted in court. It runs alongside any DMV administrative suspension.

Suspension Periods

Here are the court-ordered license suspension periods after a DUI conviction:

  • 1st Offense – 6 Months
  • 2nd Offense – 2 Years
  • 3rd Offense – 3 Years

These periods are mandatory minimums. The judge cannot make exceptions or grant restricted licenses.

License Reinstatement

To get your license back after the court suspension, you must:

  • Complete DUI classes and treatment
  • Pay all fines and fees
  • Resolve any other DMV holds
  • Pay a $55 reissue fee at the DMV
  • Maintain an SR-22 insurance policy

Completing these steps allows the DMV to reinstate your driving privileges when the court suspension ends.

Suspension Comparison Chart

Here is a quick comparison of key differences between DMV and court DUI license suspensions:

Suspension Type DMV Administrative Court Ordered
Reason Failed/refused BAC test DUI criminal conviction
Starts 30 days after arrest Upon sentencing
Length – 1st Offense 4 months 6 months
Ends After DMV hearing or term ends After court term ends

Fighting Both Suspensions

Since DMV and court suspensions run concurrently, you can be without a license for over a year if suspended administratively and convicted criminally.

This is why fighting both the DMV and court action against your license is so important after a DUI arrest. An attorney can help you:

  • Challenge the administrative suspension at a DMV hearing
  • Dispute the DUI criminal charges in court
  • Avoid double license suspension periods
  • Minimize time without driving privileges

With legal guidance, you may be able to defeat the DMV suspension, criminal DUI charges, or both. This prevents you from serving back-to-back suspension terms.

Suspension as Negotiation Leverage

Prosecutors know how damaging a long license suspension is to defendants. This gives them leverage during DUI plea negotiations.

They may offer to reduce the court-ordered suspension period in exchange for a guilty plea. An experienced DUI lawyer can negotiate this effectively to minimize suspension time.

Getting Restricted Licenses

It is generally not possible to get a restricted or hardship license after a DUI suspension in California. Both DMV and court suspensions come with mandatory terms that cannot be shortened or changed to restricted status.

In very rare cases, an occupational license may be granted for work commuting purposes only. But the burden of proof is very high and requires extensive legal help.


Dealing with the double threat of DMV and court license suspensions after a DUI arrest can be overwhelming. Understanding the key differences between administrative and criminal DUI suspensions is critical.

An attorney can help you fight both types of suspensions to retain your driving privileges. Taking action to avoid back-to-back suspension periods is essential.


[1] https://www.losangelescriminallawyer.pro/dui-drugs-and-the-drivers-license-suspensions.html

[2] https://www.losangelescriminallawyer.pro/los-angeles-dui-with-drugs-and-drivers-license-suspension.html

[3] https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/handbook/california-driver-handbook/alcohol-and-drugs/

[4] https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/dui/laws/duid/

[5] https://www.spolinlaw.com/criminal-defense/dui/drugged-dui/

[6] https://www.wedodui.com/dui-defense/penalties-for-dui/license-suspension/


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