Can DMV legally suspend my license before I am seen in court?

UPDATED: Feb 5, 2014

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Can DMV legally suspend my license before I am seen in court?

And how can the DA order me to register as a drug offender prior to my court date. I have had my license suspended. and have to register as a drug offender and won’t be seen in court until next month. DMV says even if found not guilty that I have to pay $120 to reissue my drivers license. Isn’t it innocent until proven guilty?

Asked on February 5, 2014 under Criminal Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The administrative license suspension program, known as “Admin Per Se” (APS) was implemented in 1990 as a stronger deterrent to drunk driving. The following information is a general guide for drivers 21years of age and older who become subject to an APS driver license suspension or revocation. All APS cases are unique, and if this guide does not provide the specific information you are seeking, additional information is available on the DMV website.


The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is required to suspend or revoke the driving privilege of any person arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or a combination of alcohol and drugs, who:

  • Takes a chemical (blood or breath) test which shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.01% while on DUI probation, 0.04% while driving a commercial vehicle, and/or a 0.08% or more while driving a noncommercial vehicle, OR
  • Refuses to take or fails to complete a chemical test (blood or breath)* to determine his/ her BAC level

*NOTE: A urine test is not available unless one of the following applies:

  • Both the blood and breath tests are unavailable.
  • You are a hemophiliac.
  • You are taking anticoagulant medication.

The officer will give you an Order of Suspension/ Revocation. If you have a valid driver's license, the officer will take your driver license and send it to the DMV (to be destroyed). The Order of Suspension/Revocation includes a temporary driver license valid for 30 days from the issue date (usually the date of your arrest). At the end of the 30 days, the suspension/ revocation action goes into effect. If the officer does not serve you with an Order of Suspension/ Revocation, the DMV will mail you one.

The temporary driver license does not allow you to drive if there is another DMV or court-imposed driver license action in effect.

The APS suspension or revocation is independent of any jail, fine, or other criminal penalty imposed in court if you were convicted of a DUI offense.


DMV automatically conducts an administrative review which may include an examination of the officer’s sworn report and any accompanying documents, such as an arrest or traffic collision report.

If the review shows there is no basis for the APS suspension/revocation, it will be set aside. DMV will notify you in writing only if the suspension/revocation is set aside.


You have 10 days from the receipt of the Order of Suspension/Revocation to request a hearing to show that the APS suspension/revocation is not justified. DMV will conduct a telephone hearing unless you request an in-person hearing. The APS suspension/revocation will not be stayed (delayed) unless:

  • You request a hearing within 10 days from the issue date of the order and the DMV cannot provide a hearing before the effective date of the suspension/ revocation.

Before the hearing, and upon request, you may see and/ or obtain copies of DMV’s evidence. If you want copies released to someone else, such as an attorney, you must give the person signed permission. You have the right to have a sign or language interpreter present at your hearing. Immediately notify DMV if you require an interpreter.

Answer: Yes your driver's license can be validly suspended for a DUI charge before you first appear in court.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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