In California, the most commonly imposed driving suspension is the administrative per se suspension (APS), which essentially is related to driving under the influence. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over a certain legal limit, which can result in a suspension of your driver’s license, regardless of whether there was any sign of impairment.
Here are those limits: For those under 21, there is a zero-tolerance policy and a BAC as low as .01% will trigger an automatic suspension. When driving a commercial vehicle, the limit is .04%. For those already on a DUI probation suspension, you will get an extended suspension if your BAC is .01%. If you’re over the age of 21, a BAC of .08% or greater will result in a suspension.
An admin per se suspension becomes effective 30 days after being served, and for first offenses, lasts four months, although you can opt for a five-month work-restricted license after the first month. If you’ve had prior suspensions within the last 10 years, your license will be suspended for one year. Again, there are exceptions. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI, you may be eligible for an ignition interlock restricted license after 90 days. An Ignition Interlock Device is also known as a “car breathalyzer” making you unable to use your vehicle if your BAC is over the legal limit. If your license indicates this restriction, you will need to have the device installed in your car in order to drive.
If you get pulled over for suspicion of DUI and refuse to complete a chemical blood alcohol test (either breathalyzer or blood), it can result in the suspension of your license, without accommodation. For first time offenses, the refusal driver’s license suspension lasts one year. If you’ve had a prior offense within the last 10 years, it will result in a two-year revocation of your license, and a three-year revocation if you’ve had more than one prior offense. In California, if you are 21 years of age or older and not on probation for a prior DUI, you have the right refuse to take a preliminary alcohol screening test. This is the on-the-scene breath test and is completely voluntary and you have the right to refuse this type of breath test. That being said, you DO NOT have the right to refuse to take a chemical test (blood, breath, or urine test) AFTER you have been arrested for DUI (even if you “passed” the Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test)– and doing so WILL most likely constitute a refusal and your license will be suspended as mentioned above.
Still, you are entitled to an Administrative Per Se hearing (APS) in which you may try to reinstate your driving privileges, which must be done within 10 days of your arrest. This gets tricky though because in order to have the suspension waived, you have to prove that you were not lawfully stopped, arrested and advised of the chemical blood alcohol test before refusing the test.
To navigate through this complicated process, you should consult an attorney experienced in dealing with DUI/DWI cases.