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In California, Is It Possible to Obtain a Restricted License While Your DUI Case Is Pending?


Interviewer: California might be different but can I get a hardship license or an alcohol restricted license to get me back and forth to work or school so I’m not losing everything because my license is going to be suspended? Are there options such as that in California?

If You Refuse to Undergo a Chemical Test, You Will Not Be Eligible for a Restricted License

Aaron: It depends on the type of case. If you refuse to take a chemical test and the officer’s marked down that you refused to do so, after they admonish you and then say, “You lose your license for a year or more if you refuse to take the test,” then if you lose your DMV hearing, you’re not going to have your license for at least a year.

You’re not going to be able to get any type of restrictive license for anything. That’s one type of case where the answer would be, “No, you can’t get a restricted license.”

On a First Offense DUI, If You Lose the DMV Hearing, You Can Qualify for a Five-Month Restricted License

However, on a regular DUI, a first DUI, if you lose your hearing with DMV, there’s a 30-day period where you’re not able to drive. Then you can get a restricted license for use for the next five months.

It Is Advisable to Retain an Attorney to Assist with the Complicated Process of Obtaining a Restricted License

Now that period can be longer depending on the blood alcohol level and the outcome of the court case. You can also get a restricted license after a court conviction. It can get complicated dealing with court, DMV and when suspension starts. An experienced DUI lawyer can be very helpful in clearing that up and explaining that to you.

Say you get convicted in court or let’s say your license is suspended by the DMV. You do not win your DMV hearing or you did not request one. You would have again 30 days of no driving. Then you can get a restricted license.

Typically it will be restricted for the next five months. The way to obtain that license is to get an SR22 which is additional insurance. It’s high-risk insurance. You also have to be enrolled in a first offender, usually a three-month, DUI school.

By doing those two things and paying the DMV a re-issue fee, once that first 30 days is over you can get a restricted license for the next five months, then after that go back into your full license.

Drivers under the Age of 21 May Obtain a Critical-Need-to-Drive License

Now there’s another area where you can get a restricted license. This is one of the hardest ones to get but if you’re under 21 and your license is suspended by DMV or you are convicted in court and you’re looking at a one-year loss of driving, you’d need to try and get a critical-need-to-drive license. For that license, you would need to get to the court and DMV and that would only allow you to drive be to and from work, to and from school but it’s very hard to get.

You have to jump through a lot of hoops including showing whichever entity you’re dealing with that there’s no easy way to get there by bus or public transportation and that you’re basically supporting yourself. None of these are easy to deal with. One of the problems with the restricted license is it is restricted. It does not allow you to do the every-day things. If you’re a parent and you need to drop your kids at school, you’re not supposed to be doing that on a restricted license. It can be very difficult to deal with. That is another reason why you want to fight this case.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

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