Along with jail time and heavy fines, an intoxicated driving conviction in California can result in the suspension of your driver’s license.  The suspension period depends on factors like whether you were of legal drinking age, and whether you submitted to a breathalyzer test.  But what steps do you need to take in order to get your suspended license back?  Our Ventura DUI defense lawyers explain the California drunk driving arrest process – and how to restore your driving privileges afterward.

What Happens When You Are Arrested for Intoxicated Driving in California?

California felony DUI or misdemeanor DUI charges usually begin when a police officer:

  • Is called to the scene of an accident.
  • Notices a motorist driving erratically.
  • Pulls a motorist over for a routine traffic stop.

If the motorist appears to be driving under the influence – for example, if they are slurring their speech or smell like alcohol – the officer will ask them to perform field sobriety tests.  Standardized field sobriety tests include the one-leg stand test, the walk and turn test, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, which measures the suspect’s ability to smoothly follow moving objects with their eyes.

Once the officer completes field sobriety testing and places the DUI suspect under arrest, the suspect will be taken to one of three locations: a police station, a hospital, or a county jail or detention center, such as the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility at 800 South Victoria Avenue in Ventura.

Once the suspect has been brought to a hospital, police station, or county jail/detention center, breathalyzer testing or blood testing will be performed.  Urine tests are generally used only if drug use is suspected, or if breath tests are unavailable and the subject has a medical condition that complicates blood testing, such as hemophilia.  In short, breath and blood tests are the preferred method of determining blood alcohol content (BAC).

The BAC amount for DUI is 0.08%, or 0.04% for commercial motor vehicle drivers, such as truckers.  You may refuse to submit to testing, but will face additional penalties for withholding consent.

In addition to testing your BAC, the arresting officer will also:

  • Take away your driver’s license.
  • Give you a temporary license and Notice of Suspension, which serves as formal notice that your license is being suspended.  The temporary license will allow you to drive for 30 days.

4 Reasons Your California Driver’s License Can Be Suspended

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspends a person’s driver’s license for many reasons, including, but not limited to:

  1. A first-time DUI conviction.
  2. Refusing to provide a blood or breath test after being arrested for DUI.
    • California Vehicle Code § 23612 requires you to take a breath or blood test if you are legally arrested for a DUI. Section 23612, also known as the “implied consent” law, is something that is required by the DMV before they will issue you a driver’s license.  If you refuse to provide breath or blood after you are arrested, the DMV will automatically suspend your driver’s license for one year, and you will not be eligible for a restricted license while your license is suspended.
  3. Not having insurance and being involved in an accident.
    • If you did not have auto insurance and you were involved in a car accident, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year by the DMV. To reinstate your driver’s license, the DMV will have to receive an SR-22 form (explained below) and a reissuance fee between $100 and $150.  During your one-year suspension, you may be eligible for a restricted license.
  4. Failure to appear in court for a traffic ticket.
    • Your license will be automatically suspended if you do not pay a traffic citation or do not appear in court for a traffic citation. To reinstate your driver’s license, either pay your citation or appear in court.  After you pay your citation or appear in court, you will have to pay a reissuance fee to the DMV of between $55 and $275.

Steps and Requirements to Restore Your License After DUI in Ventura

If your driver’s license is suspended for any reason, you will not be allowed to legally drive your car until the suspension is removed and your license is reinstated.

If you were convicted of a first-offense DUI in California, the court will send proof of the conviction to the DMV, which will then suspend your driving privileges for six months.  Before you are able to have your driving privileges reinstated, you will have to:

  1. Complete a DUI program. Depending on your BAC, you will have to complete either a three-month or nine-month program.  The court may be able to provide you with a list of court-approved DUI programs.
  2. File proof of financial responsibility with the DMV. This is proof that you carry auto insurance.  Acceptable forms of proof of insurance include:
    • Form REG 256 (Statement of Facts).
    • Form REG 5085 (Notification of Alternative Forms of Financial Responsibility).
    • Form SR-22 (Broad Coverage Policy Certificate, Operator’s Policy Certificate, Owner’s Policy Certificate). An SR-22 is a form that your insurance company sends to the DMV after you notify them that you were convicted of a DUI.  Your insurance may raise your insurance rates or have you purchase additional coverage in exchange for insuring you as an “at-risk” driver.
  3. Pay the DMV a license reissue fee. The fee can range from $100 to $150.

The necessary forms are available through the DMV.  To contact the California DMV with questions, call (800) 777-0133, Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.  Hours are 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. on Wednesdays.

Can I Get a Restricted License?

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If you voluntarily gave a breath or blood test to law enforcement after you were arrested, and were then convicted of a first-time DUI, you may be able to obtain a restricted license, which will allow you to drive to and from work (and the DUI program) for the duration of your license suspension.  To obtain a restricted license, you will have to provide the following to the DMV:

  1. Proof of enrollment in a DUI program.
  2. An SR-22 form.
  3. A reissuance fee ranging between $100 and $150.

Contact the Ventura DUI Defense Lawyers of Bamieh & De Smeth for a Free Consultation

If you or one of your loved ones was arrested for DUI with drugs or alcohol in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County, you need an aggressive defense attorney on your side.  Prosecutors take a tough stance on drunk driving charges, and if you are found guilty, you could be facing jail time, costly fines, and the creation of a criminal record, among other penalties.

It’s important to take DUI charges seriously and start building a defense strategy as soon as possible.  Our experienced Santa Barbara DUI lawyers handle DUI, DUI-related drug crimes, like possession of controlled substances, and vehicular manslaughter charges in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC right away at (805) 643-5555 to set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation.  Se habla español.