An Overview of How DUI Charges Can Affect Your Driver’s License

There are a number of ways DUI charges can lead to a suspension of your driver’s license in Sonoma County Mendocino County and Lake County California.  Most people are familiar with the fact that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must immediately suspend a person’s privilege to drive when the person has had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.  If a person is under the age of 21, then a BAC of 0.01%, even if it is measured by a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, will result in a mandatory suspension.  Individuals who drive commercial vehicles are subject to suspension if they drive with 0.04% BAC, and anyone on probation for certain Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses will have his or her driver’s license suspended for driving above 0.01% BAC.  A person can also have his or her license suspended for refusing to consent to a blood or breath test.

The determination of the facts that lead to the suspension is not a criminal matter.  Instead, these determinations are made administratively by the DMV.  The administrative hearing for a typical DUI case is limited to only three issues:  1) whether a person was determined by a peace officer to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, 2) whether the person was lawfully placed under arrest, and 3) whether the person was driving with the requisite amount of alcohol in his or her blood.  It can sometimes be helpful for your lawyer to appear at an administrative hearing conducted by the DMV, to explain to the hearing officer why he or she should not find a basis for suspension of your license.  For example, if a person is able to show, through cross-examination of the peace officer or through affirmative evidence, that official standards were not observed with respect to the blood alcohol test, the burden shifts to the DMV to prove that the test was reliable.

scooterIf your license is administratively suspended, you may be able to obtain a restricted license in lieu of a suspended license by enrolling in a driving under the influence program that the court approves.

If your license is revoked suspended, it is an offense for you to drive if you have knowledge of the revocation or suspension.  Knowledge is conclusively presumed once notice of the revocation or suspension has been mailed by the DMV.

If your license is suspended for any of the above reasons, there are a few ways that a criminal defense attorney can help you to get it back.  First of all, if your lawyer can show that the underlying arrest was unlawful, then the DMV is generally not permitted to suspend your license.  Also, if your lawyer can get you acquitted of the criminal charges relating to the determination of the facts, then the DMV must immediately reinstate your license if it has suspended it administratively and must return/reissue your license for its remaining term.  An acquittal only occurs when a judge makes a ruling in your favor on some or all of the factual elements of the offense charged.  Generally, you are not “acquitted” for the purpose of reinstating your driver’s license when DUI charges against you are dismissed, since a dismissal is not interpreted as a disposition of the factual issues involved in the criminal charges against you.

An experienced DUI defense lawyer can help guide you through the DUI process towards an outcome that minimizes the adverse effects on your ability to legally drive.  If you are in Lake, Mendocino, or Sonoma county and need help with a license suspension issue, please contact us for a consultation.


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and any blogs, reviews, news or testimonials presented on or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California. by Attorney Daniel B. Beck