Do the Courts or the DMV Issue a License Suspension Following a Los Angeles DUI Arrest?

The Los Angeles Criminal Courts and the Los Angeles Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are two completely separate entities. Each has their own restrictions on issuing consequences of a DUI arrest, and each follows their own standards and procedures. Reducing or dismissing your DUI charges in a criminal court will not lead to a dismissal of consequences from the DMV. The entities do not have an influence on each other.

The Courts can issue only certain types of sentences. They can issue jail time, fines, probation, community service and rehabilitation education, however they have no authority over the suspending or revocation of your driving privileges. Similarly, the DMV cannot issue jail time, probation, or other sentences issued by the Courts, they can only suspend or revoke your driving privileges.

The DMV has the authority to suspend or revoke driving privileges if two elements are met:

  1. You were driving a vehicle
  2. You had a blood alcohol content of .08 or over

If these elements are present, the DMV has the authority to suspend your driving privileges, regardless of what the determination of the criminal case was. Let’s consider an example to better demonstrate this concept.

David has been arrested for a DUI. His BAC level was .09, and he was pulled over at the side of the road sleeping in his car. David’s case is not a clear cut case for a DUI, because it could be argued that he was not impaired while driving his vehicle, since his BAC is right on the cusp, and it could also be argued that he was not technically driving a vehicle. Let’s assume that his attorney argues these two points in the criminal courts, and the courts find that there is not enough evidence to find David guilty of a DUI because it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he was intoxicated, and that he was driving a vehicle. Accordingly, the criminal courts reduce his charges.

The DMV does not have to do the same, nor will the DMV consider arguments made in the criminal court in making their own determination of whether David was driving a vehicle, and whether his blood alcohol content was over .08. However, in David’s case, there is a question as to whether he was driving a vehicle, even if there is no question as to whether his BAC was over .08. The DMV must make a finding of both elements to suspend his license. This is where a careful argument could also help reduce the DMV’s possible suspension of your license.

The length of time of suspension depends on the situation and circumstances under which your DUI arrest occurred. The following chart breaks down the potential amount of time a license may be suspended.

Offense Number Circumstances Length of Suspension
1st Offense No Aggravating Circumstances 4 Months
2nd Offense No Aggravating Circumstances 1 year
3rd Offense No Aggravating Circumstances 3 years
1st Offense With refusal to take chemical test at the time of arrest 1 year
2nd Offense With refusal to take chemical test at the time of arrest 2 years
Any Offense Under 21

Any amount of alcohol, even under .01

1 year


All of the above stated period of suspension are the potential length of suspension. This does not mean that it will automatically be imposed. A Los Angeles DUI Attorney has the ability to negotiation and argue for a lesser period of suspension, especially in situations where the facts do not support the DMV’s criteria for suspension.

If you are facing DUI charges, do not make the mistake of assuming the DMV hearing will not be that crucial to your case. Be sure to have an experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer in your corner, representing you. This will help ensure that if your license is suspended, it will be suspended for the least amount of time possible.