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DMV License Suspension: First Offense in San Diego

A first offense DUI charge typically mandates an automatic 6-month license suspension (Vehicle Code 13352a(1)). However, an experienced attorney from San Diego DUI Attorney can help prevent the suspension of your license by requesting and assisting you with a DMV hearing and/or winning your DUI case in court.

DMV hearing for a first DUI offense

After an arrest, the police officer will confiscate your drivers license and it will be sent to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.08% or higher at the time of arrest. Your license will automatically be suspended unless a DMV hearing is requested by either the offender or an attorney. A request for a DMV hearing must be made within 10 days of the arrest. A DMV hearing is either conducted over the phone or in person, depending on the situation. If a DMV hearing is not requested, the license suspension begins after the 30-day temporary license expires.

If a request for a DMV hearing is made within 10 days, the suspension will be delayed until the hearing has been completed. If an individual wins their hearing, they may still face a license suspension if they are convicted of a DUI in court.

At the hearing, the DMV typically asks three questions to determine whether to suspend your license or delay the suspension.

  1. Were you lawfully arrested?
  2. Was your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) 0.08% or higher?
  3. Did the arresting officer have sufficient probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence?

Hiring a private attorney

You have the right to representation by a DUI attorney at your DMV hearing if you choose. The DMV hearing is separate from your court case, but having a private attorney present at the hearing greatly increases your chances of avoiding a license suspension. A public defender will not represent you at a DMV hearing.

There are numerous benefits to hiring a private attorney to represent you at your DMV hearing, including the possibility of restoring your driving privileges as soon as possible. It also allows your private attorney a chance to quickly expose possible misconduct by the police department and find weaknesses in the prosecutions case. If present at your DMV hearing, your attorney is better able to cross-examine and subpoena the arresting officer, if necessary, as well as use the officers transcript to negotiate a lesser charge in the court case.

If you win your DMV hearing, you will likely retain your license. However, you may still face a license suspension if you lose your DUI court case. If you lose your hearing, the DMV will suspend your license for a time period of between 4 months and 3 years, depending on if you have prior DUIs and if you accepted or refused the blood test.

If your BAC was below 0.08% at the time of the arrest, or if the results of a chemical test were found to be under 0.08%, the California DMV will not attempt to suspend your license.

Court-triggered DMV license suspension

The DUI court case addresses whether or not you are guilty of a criminal act. The outcome of the DMV hearing has no effect on the DUI court proceedings.

If you are acquitted of DUI charges in court, the suspension of your license may be reversed by the California DMV if the charge of driving with a BAC of over 0.08% is overturned.

If your DUI is reduced to a reckless driving charge, your license suspension from the DMV will not be affected.

If your DUI charge is dismissed or is not filed by the District Attorney due to lack of sufficient evidence and you previously lost a DMV hearing, you are given the right to another hearing within one year of your arrest date.

Obtaining a restricted license after a first DUI

A restricted license allows you to drive to and from your place of work as well as to and from a court-appointed California alcohol education program. The California DMV allows you to file for a restricted license using an SR22 form 30 days after a license suspension. If you received a court-triggered license suspension, you may file for a restricted license immediately. 

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