Alcohol glass, keys, and a gavel and block

In this article, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about the Administrative Per Se (APS) License Suspension process of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you have ever faced the possibility of having your license suspended by the DMV, understanding this administrative process becomes crucial. So, let's dive right in and explore the particulars of the APS process.

Understanding Administrative Per Se License Suspension

The California DMV Administrative Per Se License Suspension is a legal action against individuals arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. When a person is arrested for DUI, their driving privileges are at risk of being suspended for up to four (4) months, even before a court conviction. It’s important to note that the administrative per se process is separate from any criminal charges and is administered by the DMV.

How Does the Administrative Per Se Process Work?

When a person is arrested for DUI, law enforcement officers confiscate their driver's license and issue a temporary license valid for 30 days. Following the arrest, the DMV will initiate the administrative per se process by issuing a Notice of Suspension. This notice informs the individual that their driving privileges will be suspended within 30 days unless they request a hearing.


To contest the suspension, the individual must request a hearing with the DMV within ten (10) days of receiving the Notice of Suspension. It is crucial to meet this deadline, as failure to do so may result in an automatic suspension of driving privileges. The ten (10) day deadline is hard, and frequently, there is nothing you can do to request a hearing date after this period has expired.


The APS Hearing

The administrative hearing is a formal proceeding where the individual can present their case and challenge the suspension. During this process, the hearing officer will review the evidence, including the results of chemical tests, testimonies, and any relevant documentation. It is advisable to seek legal representation to navigate this process effectively.


The three main issues to be determined at the APS hearing are as follows:

  1. Was the driver lawfully contacted, and did the arresting officer have probable cause to believe that the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs?
  2. Was the driver lawfully detained or arrested?
  3. Was the driver operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) that exceeded the legal limit (in California, this is 0.08%)?


After considering all the evidence presented, the hearing officer will decide on the suspension. If the suspension is upheld, the individual's driving privileges will be suspended for approximately four (4) months.

Alcohol glass next to two toy cars

Common Questions about California DMV Administrative Per Se License Suspension

Can I continue driving if my license is suspended under APS?

No, once your license is suspended under the Administrative Per Se process, you can no longer drive until the suspension period ends. It is essential to comply with the suspension to avoid further legal consequences. Additional consequences include a subsequent misdemeanor charge for driving on a suspended license from a DUI (California Vehicle Code § 14601.2)


Is it possible to obtain a restricted license during the suspension period?

In many cases, individuals may be eligible for a restricted license during the suspension period. This allows them to drive under certain conditions, such as for work-related purposes or attending court-ordered programs. However, eligibility for a restricted license depends on various factors, including the individual's driving history and the specific circumstances of the DUI offense. Another standard option is to voluntarily install an ignition interlock device (“IID”) for four (4) months, which does not restrict where or when you can drive during the APS period.


What happens if I refuse to take a chemical test during a DUI arrest?

In California, refusing to submit to a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer or blood test, can result in severe consequences, including a license suspension for up to one year. If you refuse to take a chemical test, your license will be suspended more than a standard DUI offense. Additionally, the DMV may impose other penalties and requirements, such as mandatory completion of a DUI education program.


Can I appeal the decision of the administrative hearing?

Yes, if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the administrative hearing, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeal process involves requesting a review from the DMV's Driver Safety Office. Understanding the requirements and deadlines for filing an appeal is crucial to considering your case.


Will the APS suspension affect my criminal case?

The administrative per se suspension is separate from any criminal charges related to a DUI offense. The outcome of the APS hearing does not impact the criminal case directly. However, consulting with an attorney specializing in DUI cases is essential to understand how the administrative per se suspension may intersect with the criminal proceedings.


Can I reinstate my license after the suspension period?

Yes, once the suspension period is over, you can apply to reinstate your driver's license. The process typically involves paying a reinstatement fee and providing proof of insurance. However, checking with the DMV for the specific requirements and procedures to reinstate your license successfully is advisable.

Man holding a clipboard up

The Law Office of Vincent Hughes is Here to Help

Navigating the California Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative Per Se License Suspension process can be complex and overwhelming, so seeking legal representation from a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney is essential for a favorable outcome.


The Law Office of Vincent S. Hughes, A.P.L.C, has extensive experience handling DMV APS hearings and representing those accused of driving under the influence. We can provide the personal attention your case requires and deserves, allowing you to feel confident in your options when facing DUI charges in California. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation to discuss the best course of action for your case and how our flexible payment plans and financing may benefit you. We’re here to help as your diligent and zealous defense.

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