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Los Angeles DUI and Driving Privileges

Los Angeles DUI and Driving Privileges

Los Angeles DUI and Driving Privileges

Getting arrested for DUI in Los Angeles can put your driving privileges at serious risk. Both the California DMV and courts can suspend or revoke your license following a DUI charge.

Understanding how a DUI impacts your ability to drive is critical for anyone arrested in LA. This article provides an overview of license suspension, revocation, ignition interlock devices, and steps to restoring your full driving privileges after a DUI.

Overview of DUI License Suspensions

A DUI arrest triggers two separate actions against your driver’s license – one from the DMV and one from the criminal court system. Here’s an overview:

  • DMV Suspension – The DMV will automatically suspend your license if you are arrested for DUI and fail or refuse chemical BAC testing. This is an administrative action that occurs prior to your criminal conviction.
  • Court Suspension – If convicted of DUI criminal charges, the judge will impose a license suspension as part of your sentencing. This runs concurrent with the DMV suspension.

In most cases, you face both a DMV and court suspension after a DUI. The lengths vary based on factors like BAC level and prior offenses.

DMV License Suspension

The DMV is required to suspend the licenses of all drivers who fail or refuse chemical testing after a DUI arrest. This happens under California’s “admin per se” laws.

Here is how the DMV DUI license suspension process works:

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  1. You are arrested on suspicion of DUI
  2. The officer requests you submit to a chemical BAC test
  3. If you fail the test or refuse to take it, the officer seizes your license and issues a temporary 30-day permit
  4. The DMV is notified and automatically suspends your license 30 days later
  5. You can request a DMV hearing to contest the suspension

This suspension goes into effect even if your criminal DUI charges get reduced or dismissed. It is an administrative action, not part of your criminal case.

DMV Suspension Periods

Here are the typical DMV license suspension periods after a DUI arrest:

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

These are mandatory minimums. The DMV cannot make exceptions or issue restricted licenses for DUI suspensions.

Getting Your License Back from the DMV

To regain your driving privileges after a DMV suspension, you must:

  • Request a DMV hearing within 10 days to contest the suspension
  • Install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
  • File an SR-22 form showing proof of insurance
  • Pay a $125 reissue fee at the DMV
  • Complete DUI school if suspended for a first offense

Completing these steps allows the DMV to reinstate your license once the suspension term ends. You will not get driving privileges back until you win at a DMV hearing or serve the full suspension.

Court-Ordered License Suspension

If convicted of DUI criminal charges, the court will impose its own license suspension on top of the DMV suspension. This happens at sentencing.

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

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

To get your license back after a court suspension, you must complete your DUI classes, pay fines, resolve any other DMV issues, and pay a $55 reissue fee.

Total Suspension Periods

When you combine the DMV and court suspensions, here are the total license suspension periods after a DUI arrest and conviction:

  • 1st Offense – Up to 10 months
  • 2nd Offense – Up to 3 years
  • 3rd Offense – Up to 6 years

These totals assume you took no action to fight the suspensions. An attorney can help minimize this time through legal challenges.

License Revocation

In some serious DUI cases, the DMV or court may revoke your license rather than impose a suspension. Revocation is more severe.

Grounds for revocation include:

  • 4+ DUIs within 7 years
  • A felony DUI conviction
  • A DUI resulting in injury/death

Revocations have no time limits. You must re-apply from scratch and go through a lengthy DMV review to regain just restricted driving privileges. Hire an attorney immediately if your license is revoked.

Ignition Interlock Devices

After a DUI, California requires installing an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle before reinstating your license. An IID:

  • Analyzes your breath for alcohol before allowing the car to start
  • Measures your BAC as you drive and logs the results
  • Randomly retests drivers while driving

You must keep the IID for a specified time period based on your offense. The costs are approximately $75 installation and $75 monthly rental. Failing IID tests or tampering with the device can lead to additional license suspension.

Restricted Licenses

It may be possible to get a restricted license with an IID allowing driving for essential purposes like:

  • Work
  • School
  • Medical care
  • Child transportation

However, California has very strict rules. You generally need an occupational license hearing and proof of extreme hardship. These are very difficult to obtain.

Out-of-State DUIs

If you are licensed in California but get a DUI in another state, that state can report the conviction to the California DMV. This triggers a license suspension in your home state.

Never assume an out-of-state DUI will not impact your California driving privileges. Check with the DMV to avoid additional penalties.

Refusing Chemical Testing

Refusing to submit to chemical BAC testing after a DUI arrest results in severe consequences:

  • Automatic 1-year DMV license suspension
  • Enhanced DUI criminal penalties
  • Loss of eligibility for restricted licenses

Never refuse chemical testing without first consulting legal counsel. The results can often help your case more than a refusal.

Under 21 DUIs

Drivers under 21 face longer mandatory suspensions for DUI convictions. For example, first offenses result in 1-year suspensions. Additional penalties like jail time also apply.

DUI Suspension Myths

Some common myths about DUI license suspensions include:

  • Myth: The DMV has to wait for my court case to end before suspending my license. Fact: The DMV suspension is automatic after arrest, separate from court.
  • Myth: I can still drive legally on a suspended license if I’m very careful. Fact: Driving on a suspended license carries up to 6 months jail time.
  • Myth: There’s nothing I can do to fight a DUI suspension. Fact: An attorney can contest the suspension at DMV hearings.


Dealing with the double threat of DMV and court DUI license suspensions can be very challenging. But understanding the suspension, revocation, and reinstatement processes is critical.

An experienced DUI lawyer can help minimize your time off the road. Carefully follow all requirements to legally restore your full driving privileges after a DUI in Los Angeles.


[1] https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-education-and-safety/dmv-safety-guidelines-actions/driving-under-the-influence/

[2] https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/how-long-is-the-dmv-license-suspension-after-a-california-dui-arrest

[3] https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/dui/laws/license-suspension/restricted-license/

[4] https://www.losangelescriminallawyer.pro/california-dui-and-drivers-license-suspension-penalties.html

[5] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=13353.3

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