Being arrested and charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, is usually a frightening experience. If you are ultimately convicted of DUI in California your driving privileges will likely be suspended for a significant length of time as part of the sentence. For many people, losing the ability to drive is not just inconvenient; it creates a serious financial hardship. Without the ability to drive, employment or schooling could be at risk. Fortunately, you may qualify for a hardship license in California if you find your license suspended.
Absent aggravating circumstances, such as an injury accident or a minor present in the vehicle, most motorists convicted of a first-time DUI offense in California are not sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Instead, most people receive a probation sentence and a driver’s license suspension. While this is certainly preferable to a sentence that requires time in jail, losing your ability to drive can be a serious problem if you use your vehicle to get back and forth to school, work, or important medical appointments. The State of California acknowledges the potential of this situation to result in significant hardship by allowing motorists to obtain a restricted license, or hardship license, if all eligibility requirements are met.
To qualify for a non-commercial restricted license, the following must be true:
- This is your first offense, defined by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as follows: “You must not have had another offense within 10 years of a separate DUI violation. This includes a charge reduced to reckless driving, vehicular manslaughter, or violation of CVC §23140, which resulted in a conviction or separate administrative determination that you were driving with a BAC of 0.01% or more while on DUI probation, driving a noncommercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or more, driving a commercial vehicle at any age with a BAC of 0.04% or more OR you refused a chemical test.”
- You took the chemical test when requested.
- You were 21 years of age or older (additional conditions apply if you were under 21).
- Your driving privileges are not suspended or revoked for another reason.
If you were under the age of 21 at the time of the DUI offense you may qualify for a Critical Needs Restriction which allows you to drive to and from school, work, for a family illness or for a family business or enterprise. To qualify, the following criteria must be met:
- You took the chemical test.
- The DMV determines that adequate public transportation is not available.
- Operation of a vehicle by a minor is necessary as determined by the DMV.
If you had a commercial driver’s license at the time of the DUI offense in California you must downgrade to a non-commercial license when applying for a restricted license. If you were driving a non-commercial vehicle at the time of the arrest you may receive a hardship license that allows you to drive to and from a treatment program and work. If you were driving a commercial vehicle your restricted license will only allow you to drive to and from a treatment program.
If your driver’s license has been suspended as a result of a DUI conviction in California, contact the Law Offices of Domenic J. Lombardo, an experienced San Diego DUI attorney, to find out if you qualify to obtain a restricted license to at least partially restore driving privileges until your suspension period terminates.