Prior to January 1, 2019 an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol in California resulted in the suspension of a license if the DMV administratively found that you were driving, at the time of driving your blood alcohol level was .08 or higher, and that the arrest was lawful. For a first DUI offense, your license was administratively suspended for four months and for the first thirty days, “no driving.” After the first thirty days, you could jump through some hoops and get a restricted license allowing you to drive to work and to a DUI program. For second DUIs, the “no drive” suspension period was a year, and on a third, two years.
Court convictions for a DUI results in another suspension period separate from the DMV administrative suspension. For a first DUI, you could get a restricted license after serving the administrative 30 day suspension, and on multiple offense DUIs, a longer period depending on how many prior convictions a person had. You would then have to obtain a SR22, enroll in the DUI program, pay a license reinstatement fee and in some counties like Sacramento, install an ignition interlock device.
For DUI arrests occurring on or after January 1, 2019, Senate Bill 1046 eliminates the “no drive” administrative suspension period in many cases so long as an ignition interlock device is installed and some other requirements are met.
For a first offense non-injury alcohol related DUI, by installing an ignition interlock, obtaining a SR22, enrolling in a DUI program and paying the license reinstatement fee will avoid the thirty day “no drive” period.
For multiple offense non-injury alcohol related DUIs, by installing an ignition interlock, obtaining a SR22, enrolling in a DUI program and paying the license reinstatement fee will avoid the “no drive” period whether it is one year, two years, or more.
Alcohol DUI with Injury
In the past, DUI with injury court conviction resulted in a one year “no drive” period. Now, by installing an ignition interlock device, obtaining a SR22, enrolling in a DUI program and paying the reinstatement fee, there will not be a “no drive” period.
Alcohol DUI Under 21 years old
SB 1046 does apply so this is a big change. Prior to January 1, 2019 if you were under 21 and drinking alcohol and driving, you would end up with one year “no drive” suspension.
Chemical Test Refusal
Unfortunately, if DMV administratively finds that you refused to submit to a chemical test, you will still lose your privilege to drive for one year and will not be able to avoid the “no drive” period.
SB 1046 does not apply to convictions resulting from drugs and/or medications.
Timing is everything to maintain your ability to drive after getting arrested for a DUI. You will want to preserve your ability to contest an automatic DMV administrative suspension. By setting a hearing, you will find out if the blood alcohol level was really a .08 or higher and to see if the stop and arrest was lawful. If it looks like a suspension will happen, knowing what to do and when, will be vital if you want to maintain your privilege to drive. Consult an experienced DUI attorney who knows what he or she is doing.