California views having a driver’s license as a privilege, not a “right.” That said, you can keep your driver’s license providing you adhere to specific conditions. For example, don’t get too many points, don’t get a DUI, and maintain the required auto insurance. Otherwise, you could lose your license.
If you fail to comply with the state’s strict conditions, the DMV can take swift action to suspend or your revoke your license. Meaning, the DMV or the court can decide that you are NOT allowed to drive until the license suspension or revocation are lifted, and you’re able to get your license reinstated. Also note: Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a separate crime in itself.
Drug & Alcohol-Related Suspensions
Here are the drug and alcohol-related reasons why your license can be suspended:
- A conviction for driving under the influence. California is known for having some of the toughest DUI (alcohol or drugs) laws in the nation. If you’re convicted of DUI, your license will be suspended for six months for a first conviction. With a second or third conviction, you may lose your license for up to four years.
- Underage drinking. If you’re caught drinking while you’re under the age of 21, you’ll lose your license for one year or until you turn 18, whichever one comes later.
- Too many points on your driving record. If you accrue too many points, the DMV will suspend your license for six months, or revoke it altogether.
If you were convicted of DUI, a first offense results in a six-month driver’s license suspension. You may get your license reinstated after you complete the required alcohol education program. If you were convicted of DUI and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.15% or higher and you have a record of previous DUIs, OR if you refused to submit to a chemical test, you may have to complete a program that lasts nine months or longer. If your BAC was 0.20% or higher, and you are referred to an enhanced DUI treatment program by the court, your driver’s license will be suspended for 10 months.
To reinstate your license after a DUI, you must:
- Pay a reissuance fee.
- File a Proof of Financial Responsibility (SR22).
- Enroll in a DUI treatment program and file a Certificate of Completion (DL-101) once you complete it.
Are You Eligible for a Restricted License?
If you were convicted of DUI and show proof of enrolment in a DUI treatment program, you may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license after a mandatory 30-day license suspension. In that case, the restricted license would allow you to drive to and from the DUI treatment program and work.