If you are charged with a DUI in California, your license can be suspended in two different ways—either because you are convicted in court; or if you lose a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
A California court conviction for first-time DUI automatically triggers a six-month license suspension. This suspension is not imposed by the DUI judge. Rather, when the conviction occurs, the court notifies the DMV and the DMV is responsible for imposing the suspension. If your charge is reduced to reckless driving or to another offense less severe than DUI, there is no court-triggered license suspension.
An adult arrested for DUI with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher also faces an administrative license suspension. This proceeding is through the DMV and is independent of the DUI court proceedings. You are entitled to a DMV hearing regarding the administrative suspension and can bring a lawyer to the hearing. If you win your hearing, no administrative license suspension is imposed. If you lose your hearing, the DMV suspends your license for four months. If you are convicted in court and lose your DMV hearing, your license is suspended for a total of six months.
Getting a Restricted License After a First DUI
How soon you can get a restricted license depends on what process you went through. If your license was suspended because you were convicted of DUI in court, you can apply to get a restricted license right away. If you lose a DMV hearing, you must wait 30 days from the date of the suspension to apply for a restricted license.