What happens if you are arrested for DUI in California?

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The California law states that you can be arrested for DUI or driving under the influence, if a law enforcement officer making the traffic stop believes that you were driving a vehicle when you were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Upon a DUI arrest, the arresting officer will send the completed notice of revocation or suspension of your license to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), along with a sworn report of the incident.

The DMV will review the official report, revocation or suspension order, and the results of any chemical tests that were conducted. If the revocation or suspension is upheld, you are allowed 10 days to request a hearing and challenge the decision.

If the arresting officer confiscated your drivers’ license, you can get it back at the end of your revocation or suspension, after paying the DMV a fee to re-issue the license.

When convicted of a DUI –

  • Your driving privileges will be suspended for a specific amount of time. The time period depends upon whether you submitted or refused to the chemical test and whether this was your first DUI arrest within the past 10 years.
  • If you took the chemical test and failed, your driving privileges will be suspended for four months on your first offense.
  • Your driving privileges will be suspended for 1 year on subsequent offenses within 10 years of a previous arrest.
  • If you are under the age of 21 years and the chemical test showed a BAC of 0.01 percent or more, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year.
  • If you refused to take the chemical test and were convicted of a DUI, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year on a first offense, 2 years on a second offense within 10 years, and 3 years on a third offense within 10 years of a previous arrest.
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Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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