One aspect of California DUI and DWI charges that confuses many people is the division between the criminal and administrative processes involved. It's important to understand the division because both move quickly, and both can lead to lasting consequences.
When you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, the arresting officer confiscates your driver's license, completes a form suspending or revoking your license, writes a report and forwards all these items to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV then undertakes an administrative review to determine whether to uphold the revocation or suspension. If the DMV upholds the revocation or suspension of your license, you can request a hearing to contest the decision, but you have only 10 days in which to request the hearing.
Often, the arresting officer will give you an Order of Suspension and Temporary License, which allows you do retain your driving privileges while you are going through the process. However, the temporary license only lasts for 30 days.
For drivers age 21 and older who took the blood or breath had results of 0.08% BAC or more, a first offense typically results in a 4-month driver's license suspension.
The administrative process can have enormous consequences for your personal and professional life, especially if you depend on driving to get to work and other important tasks. The criminal process is even more serious. A criminal conviction can lead to steep fines and even time behind bars.
Everyone accused of a crime deserves a defense. If you have been accused of drunk driving, it is important to seek out help from a criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable about the criminal and administrative aspects of DUI law.