California immediate driver license suspension law
In 1990, California implemented an immediate driver license suspension law for alcohol-impaired drivers, also referred to as an “Administrative Per Se (APS)” or “on-the-spot” license suspension law.
If you have been arrested for one of the following offenses, or you have refused a chemical test, the California Admin Per Se law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend or revoke your license upon arrest.
By DUI laws in California, it is illegal for any person to operate:
- A motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher.
- Any vehicle requiring a commercial driver license (with or without a commercial driver license issued to the driver), with a BAC of 0.04% or higher.
- A motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.01% or higher, if the person is under age 21.
- A motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.01% or higher at any age if the person is on DUI probation for a prior DUI.
30-day Temporary License
After your arrest for DUI, your driver’s license is confiscated by the arresting officer, and you are issued with a 30-day temporary license. This 30-day temporary license is intended to provide you with sufficient time to challenge the suspension through a DMV administrative review (DMV Hearing). You only have 10 days after your arrest to ask for a DMV Stay and Hearing to try to save your license.
Independent of the court
This suspension of your license by the DMV is called an “administrative action” and is independent of any court-imposed criminal penalties for conviction of your DUI offense. Be aware that the DMV and the court are two separate institutions and have separate and independent powers over your license.
If your charges are dismissed by the court
APS Dismissal Hearing
If your charges are dismissed by the court for insufficient evidence or if you are, following arrest, never charged by the court for DUI, you may request an APS dismissal hearing to consider setting aside the associated APS suspension of your license.
- DMV Fact sheet on Immediate Driver License Suspension or Revocation Drivers Age 21 and Older
- DMV’s California Administrative Per Se Facts (2016).