Where Can I Drive on a CA Restricted License?

When California drivers are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), they face up to a four-month driver license suspension upon a first offense. Considering the fact that California is a big place and it’s extremely difficult for the average person to get to work without a vehicle, it makes sense why DUI defendants would ask, “Is there any way that I can at least drive to and from work?”

Across the country, most, if not all states have some type of a hardship or occupational license for DUI offenders. Here in California, our hardship license is referred to as a “restricted license.” Some DUI offenders are eligible to apply for a noncommercial restricted license, which allows them to drive on a very limited basis.


Let’s say you were convicted of a California DUI and you were later approved for a restricted license. Does this mean you can pick up your prescriptions? Drive to the grocery store when you need formula or diapers? Take your kids to school each morning? Nope, you can’t do any of those things with a restricted license.

With a restricted license, people are onlyallowed to drive to and from work and in the course of their employment, andthey are allowed to drive to and from their DUI program. So, this does not include doctors’ visits, trips to elementary schools (for your kids), dance classes, soccer games, weekly grocery shopping trips, or trips to the mechanic.

What does it take to be eligible for a restricted license?

  • You must be enrolled in a DUI First Offender Program.
  • You must let the DUI program provider that you are applying for a restricted license.
  • You must file an SR-22 certificate, a surety bond, $35,000 cash deposit, or a self-insurer deposit.
  • You must wait out the mandatory 30-day suspension period before you apply for a restricted license.

Please be aware that if you are approved for a restricted license and you fail to participate in or complete your DUI program, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your privilege to drive for up to four months.

Related: Jail for a California DUI

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