How to Get a Restricted License After a DUI Arrest

If you've been arrested for your first DUI you're probably wondering if you're eligible for a restricted license.  Here's the scoop.  

WHAT IS A RESTRICTED LICENSE?

A restricted license allows drivers whose licenses have been suspended by the DMV due to a DUI arrest/conviction to drive to and from work or school as well as to any court mandated DUI education programs (which are mandatory if you're convicted of DUI).  

WHEN CAN I GET A RESTRICTED LICENSE?

The short answer:  you are eligible for a restricted license 30 days after the DMV suspends your license. 

First offenders are eligible for a restricted license after the DMV suspends their license for 30 days, during which time they cannot lawfully drive at all (i.e., no restricted license during this 30 day suspension period).  

WHEN WILL THE DMV SUSPEND MY LICENSE?

The short answer:  if you DO NOT request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest, the DMV will suspend your license 30 days after your arrest.  If you DO request a hearing, the DMV won't suspend your license until after the hearing and unless the DMV finds your arrest for DUI was valid.  Below are more details about the process.  

One of the more confusing things for people facing DUI charges to understand is that their case proceeds along two tracks:  (1) the DMV track; and (2) the criminal track.  Further, the DMV and court essentially operate independently of each other, where the actions of the DMV don't impact the court and vice-versa.  

When you're arrested for DUI, you're given an "Admin Per Se" notice, which also serves as your temporary 30 day driver's license.  If you do not request a DMV hearing regarding your DUI arrest, your license will be suspended by the DMV on the day your temporary license expires (i.e., 30 days from the day of the incident).  The DMV will suspend your license regardless of the fact that you most likely have not pled guilty or been found guilty of driving under the influence in the criminal track of your case at that time.  

However, if you request a DMV hearing regarding your license suspension within 10 days of your arrest, your license will not be suspended until after the hearing and unless the DMV finds your arrest for DUI was valid.  If the DMV cannot provide you with a hearing date before your 30 day temporary license expires, your license suspension will be stayed (put on hold) until after the hearing.  The DMV will not suspend your license if, at the hearing, they find that your arrest for DUI was not valid.  

If you win your DMV hearing, your license will not be suspended unless you are found guilty in the court track and a judge orders the DMV to suspend your license.  

SO, I WAIT UNTIL 30 DAYS AFTER THE DMV SUSPENDS MY LICENSE.  DO I HAVE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE TO GET A RESTRICTED LICENSE?

The short answer:  Yes.  You must also provide the DMV with the following items to obtain a restricted license:  (1) proof of enrollment in a first offender DUI education program; (2) a SR22; and (3) pay all reinstatement or reissue fees.  

While your license is suspended for the 30 day period, it would be wise to go enroll in a first offender DUI education program and obtain an SR22.  These things take some time.  So give yourself some headway on accomplishing these tasks so that you can go to the DMV on the day the 30 day suspension expires to apply for a restricted license.  

You could do these things while you still have your temporary license, especially if you're not requesting a DMV hearing.  However, if you are requesting a DMV hearing, wait until after the hearing to see if the DMV actually suspends your license.  

WAIT, ENROLL IN THE DUI EDUCATION PROGRAM?  I HAVEN'T EVEN BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF DUI YET!

Great observation.  I understand that it may sound counter intuitive to enroll in the DUI education program before you're even convicted, because, what if you're never convicted? You just wasted all that money on enrolling and paying for a DUI education program.  This is, of course, the risk.  It all comes down to whether or not you're willing to pay the extra cash to get a restricted license despite the fact that, if you're found not guilty or the case is dismissed, you will not have to participate in a DUI education program.  

WHAT IS A SR22 AND HOW DO I GET ONE?

The Short Answer:  A SR22 is a certificate of insurance. Your auto insurance company files it with the DMV in order to confirm that you meet the minimum requirements for auto insurance liability coverage.

If you are in need of a SR22, talk to your current auto insurance company about any rate hikes or policy cancellation you may experience as a result of having to maintain a SR22.  Further, ask your auto insurance company if you can acquire a SR22 from a different insurance company.  Often, getting your SR22 from a company other than your current auto insurance provider can save you a lot of money.  However, you must notify your current auto insurance company of the fact that you took out a SR22 with a different insurance company.  

If after reading this article you still have questions about obtaining a restricted license following a DUI arrest in California, please feel free to contact me at (951) 387-4982 or by using the contact form below.  

Posted by Mike Donaldson.