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Note: The information provided on this page is ONLY intended for drivers facing a driver license suspension due to a DUI arrest. For information related to a DMV Hearing in connection with a medical, vision or skill related issue, Click here.

​​What is a DUI related Administrative Hearings?

 If you are arrested for DUI you will be facing two separate legal proceedings: a criminal proceeding for DUI in a California court, and a second California Department of Motor Vehicles ("DMV") administrative hearing.

​Upon your release from jail, you will notice that the arresting officer confiscated your driver's license and that you were provided with a pink "Notice of Suspension". This notice acts as a temporary license for 30 days and also instructs you to contact the DMV within ten days of a release. If you fail to request a hearing within this 10-day window, your license will be suspended automatically at the end of the 30 days. If this is your first offense, you will lose your license for four (4) months. Welcome to reality!

Remember: You must contact the Department to schedule your DUI DMV hearing within 10 calendar days of your arrest. Your failure to do so forfeits your right to this hearing.

If you decide to retain a private DUI defense attorney s/he will likely request and schedule your DMV DUI hearing for you (provided that you hire her/his services within the mentioned 10-day time-frame). If you are not planning to testify s/he may also appear on your behalf, in which case you do not need to attend the hearing. In some cases this hearing is conducted over the phone rather than in-person.

Even though the criminal and the administrative proceedings are separate the two are closely related. For example, evidence or testimony obtained during the DMV hearing could be used to persuade the prosecutor to dismiss your charge or to offer a reduced charge as part of DUI plea bargain negotiations. Similarly, if due to a jury or bench trial you receive a "not guilty" verdict on Vehicle Code 23152(b) -driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater-- the DMV will reissue your driver's license. Keep in mind that pleading "guilty" or "no contest" to a reduced charge does not have any bearing on your DMV license suspension/revocation.

​Pertinent Statutes:
The controlling statutes for drunk driving are California Vehicle Code §23152(a), (b) (applicable to cases where the incident did not result in injuries) and California Vehicle Code §23153(a), (b) (applicable to cases where the DUI caused injury).

​Typical consequences of a first offense within 10 years VC 23152 sentence:

A first DUI conviction under VC 23152 shall be punished by:

    96 hours to 6 month in jail (See VC 23536).
    A fine between $390 to $1,000
    A DMV 6-month driver's license suspension (see VC 13352)
        (Note: Starting in 2019, many DUI arrestees can continue driving provided they get an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their cars for a six-month period. See California Senate Bill 1046 (2018)).
    3 to 5 years of probation.
    and, indirect consequences such as increased car insurance premiums.

Furthermore, if you are granted probation, the terms and conditions of probation shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
   A requirement that you shall not drive a vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood.
   A requirement that, if arrested for a violation of VC 23152 or VC 23153, you shall not refuse to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine
   A requirement that you shall not commit any criminal offense
   A requirement that you shall not drive without valid insurance
   A requirement to disclose probation terms upon request of law enforcement officer
   Consent to submit to search and seizure.
  You shall enroll, participate in, and successfully complete a 3-month driving-under-the-influence/drug treatment program (If you had a BAC of 0.20% or more, or refused to take a chemical test, the court shall refer you to participate for at least 9 months or longer, as ordered by the court, in a licensed program that consists of at least 60 hours of program activities, including education, group counseling, and individual interview sessions.)

 Note: If you upon your arrest you refuse to submit to a chemical blood or breath test, your driving privilege will be suspended for one year, and you will not be eligible for a "restricted" license. Similarly, if the DUI caused injury to another person the California DMV will suspend your license for one year and you will not be eligible for a restricted license.

Immigration Consequences:

​As of today, a single, standing alone, DUI -driving under the influence of alcohol (instead of a controlled substance)- has a limited negative effect regarding immigration issues since it does not bar a naturalization applicant from establishing good character. Nevertheless, this could drastically change if the newly proposed federal legislation is approved, since it will consider a third DUI conviction an aggravated felony. To date, no conviction for DUI is a deportable aggravated felony. Nevertheless, US Consulates may revoke  non-immigrant visas on the basis of a single DUI arrest. However, a conviction under VC 23152(f) (driving under the influence of a drug), or VC 23152(g) (driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs) -and the parallel offenses causing injury- might be charge in an immigration court as a controlled substance conviction, triggering adverse immigration consequences. Keep in mind that a conviction for driving while addicted to the use of any drug may be ground for deportation or illegibility.

​Can I represent myself in a DUI case?
Yes, but as Abraham Lincoln have said: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client” as representing yourself is usually a serious mistake. If you cannot afford a private attorney you might qualify for the Public Defender, but keep in mind that the Public Defender's Office only represents people who cannot afford to hire an attorney.