Anyone who is arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs will face driver's license penalties. While the precise penalties and terms of suspension will vary depending on the nature of the charge and a person's criminal history – particularly whether they have any prior DUI or wet reckless convictions on their record – there are certain terms and procedures that will apply to all DUI cases.
It is crucial for anyone facing a DUI allegation to understand that criminal penalties and license penalties are handled independently from one another. This means that the criminal court will determine your guilt or innocence in relation to a specific charge. In the event that a person is found guilty of a DUI, the criminal court will also impose various penalties, including possible terms of imprisonment, fines, court ordered classes, probation, community service, and other various consequences. Driver's license suspensions, however, are handled exclusively by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The California DMV is responsible for determining whether a person charged with a DUI should have their license restricted, suspended, or revoked. When you are arrested for a DUI in Riverside County or anywhere in the state of California, your driver's license will be confiscated and you will receive a temporary driver's license that is valid for 30 days. This license does not mean that you are guilty, but rather that your case is pending. In order to preserve your driving privileges – as well as challenge a possible suspension – you must request an administrative hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest.
Understanding this 10-day rule is vital to protecting your driver's license. If you do not request a DMV hearing within 10 days, your license will be suspended after the temporary 30-day period. As such, requesting a DMV hearing should be one of the first things you do after an arrest – with the exception of contacting an experienced DUI attorney.
DMV hearings are conducted separately from criminal proceedings and concern only the suspension or revocation of your driver's license. They do not determine your guilt or innocence for committing a criminal offense. These hearings are offered because you have the right to know what actions the DMV intends to take against your driving privileges and the right to present your side of the story. All circumstances surrounding your arrest will be reviewed for the purpose of the DMV hearing, including the results of your chemical tests, the procedures of arresting law enforcement officers, and whether or not you refused to take a breath or blood test.
Depending on the results of these DMV hearings, you may have several options. If your driver's license suspension was sustained – meaning that it was upheld – and you were found not guilty of the DUI charge in criminal court, you may be able to reverse the license suspension. You will not be able to reverse the suspension if your DUI was reduced to a wet reckless in criminal court. If you are permitted to obtain a restricted license, you can follow the procedures, pay restricted license fees, and obtain your restricted license after a mandatory 30-day suspension. The terms for obtaining a restricted license will require you to file proof of financial responsibility (insurance) and proof that you are enrolled in a court approved DUI education class or program. The restricted license typically permits you to drive for reasons related to school and work only. Drivers convicted of a third or subsequent DUI will not be eligible for a restricted license.
If you or your loved one has recently been charged with a DUI, requesting a DMV hearing and acting fast is of the utmost importance. By working with a seasoned DUI attorney from the Law Offices of Thomas Wallin, you can gain the step-by-step assistance needed to ensure that you do not miss any deadlines and that you have experienced representation capable of protecting your driving privileges. Do not hesitate to contact the firm to learn more about the DMV penalties and procedures in place for DUI allegations.