DUI STEP 3: Get Informed – rights, laws & penalties

Being arrested for DUI in Los Angeles County is a traumatic and confusing experience. Protect yourself from being taken advantage of by the DMV, the police, prosecutors, judges & DUI lawyers.  Get informed.

Knowledge is Power

  1. Know Your Rights
  2. Know the DUI Laws
  3. Know the Penalties
  4. Understand What You Face
  5. Understand the Timeline


Know your rights. You have a right to:

  • A DMV hearing to try to save your license. Without a DMV Hearing, your license will be subject to automatic suspension 30 days after your arrest.  You must ask for a Stay and a Hearing within 10 days of your arrest. A Stay and a Hearing buy you more time to drive and a chance at avoiding a license suspension.  A DMV Hearing is optional, but appearance in court is mandatory. Your DMV Hearing is an administrative hearing with the DMV, not a court hearing. Your case is assigned to a DMV Hearing Officer.  You can go by yourself or optionally with your attorney.
  • An APS Dismissal Hearing with the DMV. If the DMV has suspended your license under the Admin Per Se law, but the court dismisses your charges for insufficient evidence, then you have a right to an APS Dismissal Hearing with the DMV to consider setting aside the APS suspension.
  • A choice of defense.  For your court case, you can choose to defend yourself, use a Public Defender, or hire your own DUI lawyer. Learn more about your choice of DUI defense.
  • Two Options in Court.  You can choose to accept a plea bargain, or go to trial with a jury.  Learn more about plea bargain or jury trial.
  • A speedy jury trial. Under the law you have the right to have a speedy trial. This means that 45 days after your first court date for a misdemeanor DUI charge you have the right to a jury trial.
  • A copy of your police report.  It is very important that you obtain and read your Police Report to see what the officer is saying about you and to see what your breath tests or blood test results are.   See how to get a copy of your police report
  • An extension of time to find an attorney. You can go to court by yourself on your first court date (your Arraignment) and ask the judge for a two to three week continuance in order to hire a DUI attorney.  The judge will grant you a continuance for this purpose. You will find your first court date at the bottom of your ticket.



By law in California, DUI – Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense. It is more serious than most other traffic offenses.

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.

By the Admin Per Se law, the DMV is required to suspend your license if you are charged with one of the above offenses, or you have refused a chemical test. This suspension by the DMV is called an “administrative action” and is independent of any court-imposed criminal penalties for conviction of the DUI offense.  Be aware that the DMV and the Court are two separate institutions with separate and independent powers over your license.



See DUI Penalties FAQ


Two Major Hurdles

After being arrested for DUI in Los Angeles County, you face two major hurdles ahead:

  1. Your DMV Hearing
  2. Your Court Case

These two are separate events, in two separate institutions.

Learn more about these what you face at your DMV Hearing vs Court Hearing and about DUI Courts in Los Angeles County.


  • You have only 10 days after your arrest date to call the DMV and ask for a Stay and a Hearing
  • Your first court date (also called an arraignment) can be found at the bottom of your ticket.
  • Your temporary license expires after 30 days, and your drivers’ license is subject to automatic suspension unless you have asked for a Stay and a DMV Hearing.
  • If you do not own a vehicle, you must submit a signed exemption request to the DMV within 30 days of your arrest so that you are exempt from having to install an Ignition Interlock Device.
  • Your DMV Hearing usually takes place 1-3 months after your arrest. (This is approximate).
  • The day you have to go to court is listed on the bottom of your ticket and you must appear in court on that date. Failure to appear in court can result in a bench warrant for your arrest. We can appear in court for you so you do not have to appear in court.
Print-Friendly Page Print-Friendly Page
Free Legal Consultation with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney(310) 285-1516