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How to Obtain a Restricrted Driver's License After a First Offense DUI Conviction in California

Posted by Michael Rehm | Oct 13, 2014 | 10 Comments


Hi, my name is Michael Rehm.

I practice DUI defense here in California.   This video today is specifically designed to explain how you obtain a restricted driver's license after you're convicted of a DUI in California.  I get this question all the time.  I figured I'd make a video because it seems to be such a frequent question.

Keep in mind this isn't a guarantee.  This is my understanding of the law.  You should always consult with an attorney to see if there've been any changes in the law or anything to that extent before you do anything when you're dealing with a DUI.

You can also contact, for specific information, the DMV.  Mandatory Actions Unit is who you want to call at (916) 657-6525.  Yes, there's only one number for all of California to contact them.    Yes, you're probably going to have to wait on hold for 20 to 30 minutes.  Just put it on speaker.  That's unfortunate.  I have to do the same thing when I call them.  It's just, unfortunately, part of the process.

A restricted license after a first offense DUI conviction, there are going to be four things you have to do and potentially five if you're in certain counties.  We'll get to that in a second, but 30 days you have to wait.  On a first offense DUI conviction, you're going to lose your license for either six months or nine months depending on if you want a restricted and whether you're assessed the high blood alcohol.

Let's say you're not assessed the high blood alcohol.  You lose it for 30 days.  Then you want to get your restricted.  You get your restricted for five months.    If you are given the high blood alcohol and you have to do the nine-month DUI school, then you're still going to lose it for 30 days.  You're going to have to get it after; you're going to have a restricted for eight months.

Either way, whether you're on the high blood alcohol or the non-high blood alcohol, you have to wait 30 days before you're eligible for a restricted license.

After that, you have to have what's called an SR22.  Now, an SR22 is just auto insurance, specifically high-risk auto insurance.  You have to have an SR22 on file with the California DMV in order to get your restricted license.

When you obtain an SR22 from your insurance company, they're supposed to electronically forward the information to the DMV, so it shouldn't be much of an issue.  It's on the insurance company to get it to the DMV.  It's just on you to get it from your insurance company.  That's number two, an SR22.

Number three; proof of enrollment in the first offender program.  Now what length of a first offender program you're going to have to do should be decided in court.  No matter what length it is, you're going to have proof of enrollment on file with the DMV.  Once again, when you enroll in the first offender program, they are supposed to electronically forward that information to the DMV, but you just have to enroll.

Number four, and this is the one that seems to trip the most people up, but after this is all done, after the 30 days is done and you have the SR22 and the proof of enrollment of the first offender program on file with the DMV, then you actually have to physically go to the DMV, pay the reissue fee--I believe the reissue fee is around $125, $120, something to that extent--and get your restricted license.  They are not going to mail you a restricted license.  You have to go down there and obtain it.

Now, if you have been convicted -- I'll do number five here.  In four counties in California right now, on a first offense, they are requiring you to get a breathalyzer in the vehicle, called an ignition interlock device.  Those counties are Los Angeles, Tulare, Sacramento, and Alameda County.   If you are convicted of a first offense DUI, you're eventually at some point going to have to get the IID in order to get your restricted.  The way that works is you're going to keep following these rules until you're notified by the DMV that these rules no longer apply to you, and you're going to have to get an IID.  But, ideally, you go get the IID within the 30 days.

Now, there is actually an advantage to this.  Normally, first off, a restricted license without the IID, for everyone else other than in those counties, means you can drive to, from, and during work and to and from the first offender program.  That's it.  Not to school, not to medical, or anything to that extent.  So it's limited, in general, as far as what does the restricted license allow you to do.   Now, they don't ask where you work.  It's a pretty vague restriction, but if you're going to be driving, it has to be work related, either to and from or during, or to the first offender program.

If you're in a county where you're required to get an ignition interlock device, the restriction is not to, from, and during work and to and from the DUI school.  The restriction is the IID.  You can drive anywhere you want as long as you have the ignition interlock device in the vehicle.    I believe it's around $75 to $100 a month.  Probably around, I think it's around a $200 installation fee.  You're going to nickel and dime you with the cost.  It's a pain.  A lot of people resent it.  But once you obtain it, you can drive anywhere you want as opposed to those who are not in those counties who are just forced to drive to and from and during work and to and from the DUI program.

That's basically it.  You have to do four things in order to get a restricted license after a DUI conviction or first offense in California.  You have to wait for 30 days.  You have to obtain and SR22.  Once again, the insurance company will electronically forward that to the DMV.  They're supposed to, at least.  The same with the first offender program, you have to enroll, and they're supposed to forward that information.  Then you have to actually go there and get your restricted license from the DMV and pay the reissue fee.

My name is Michael Rehm, (800) 978-0754.  If you have any questions, you can call me any time.  I wish you luck.


 San Diego DUI Attorney

About the Author

Michael Rehm

Michael Rehm has practiced law for over fifteen years. He has practiced exclusively Personal Injury and DUI/Criminal Defense.  While in law school, he served as an intern at the Sacramento County and Yolo County Public Defender's Office. After graduating law school, Mr. Rehm passed both the California and New York Bar Examinations on his first attempt. He then accepted a position at the Legal Aid Society-Criminal Defense Division in Brooklyn, NY representing the indigent in Brooklyn Criminal Court.  He has been in private practice for the last thirteen years. Education: University of California – San Diego Bachelors University of the Pacific – McGeorge School of Law Juris Doctorate License: California State Bar New York State Bar


Portia Rogers Reply

Posted Nov 13, 2019 at 15:24:21

Thank you for your article. It’s very helpful. How can I get a temporary license prior to conviction. Situation:.19 y/o, breathalyzer.03, first offence , working college student. Caring for 93 y/o grandfathers transportation to and from medical appointments.

Michael Rehm Reply

Posted Nov 13, 2019 at 15:39:19

You have to call the DMV Mandatory Actions at (916) 657-6525 and ask them if you are eligible, and if not, when you will be. You can normally apply for a “Critical Need” drivers license. This can potentially include driving a family member to medical appointments. They will give you instructions on how to apply, but normally they require proof that there is no public transportation available, depending on the times or the route, and there is no private transportation (someone else you live with) that can provide the transportation for you. I hope this helps.

Nick P. Reply

Posted Jan 29, 2020 at 08:01:23

As far as the restrictions go, dose the dmv work with single parents who have to pick up the child from school 50% of the time?

Molly Gray Reply

Posted Feb 25, 2020 at 10:22:41

my license was suspended in 2000 due to child support. How can I find out when I can renew it.

John Reply

Posted Mar 11, 2020 at 11:54:43

Every Friday i drive for 4hrs to pick up my children, on Sundays I drive another 4 to drop them off. Will I be able to still do that under a restricted license? Its my first DUI

Michael Rehm Reply

Posted Mar 11, 2020 at 14:07:43

It depends on when the violation date of the offense was and what county. If the violation was prior to January 1, 2019, and you were not convicted in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Alameda or Tulare County, the answer should be no, you can only drive for employment purposes and/or the DUI classes.

If you were convicted in one of those four counties, and the violation was before January 1, 2019, the answer should be yes, you could a restricted with an ignition interlock device (breathalyzer) in the vehicle and drive wherever you wanted. If the violation date was January 1, 2019 or later, you should be eligible for an IID in the vehicle and you should be able to drive wherever you would like, as long as the breathalyzer is installed, no matter what county you were convicted in.

The reality with any drivers license issue is that I do not have access to your DMV record, so the real answer to your question is that you have to call DMV Mandatory Actions at (916) 657-6525, wait on hold for probably around 30 minutes, and provide them your drivers license number, and ask them what you are eligible for, and how to go about it. I hope that helps.

Michael Rehm Reply

Posted Mar 11, 2020 at 14:12:16

I believe the Mandatory Actions unit of the California DMV has a child support division that you can contact directly. (916) 657-6525. If you stay on hold through the initial preamble, it will eventually go through an extension to contact to different units, and I believe you would want extension #5. Good luck.

Michael Rehm Reply

Posted Mar 11, 2020 at 14:14:20

Potentially. You may eligible for a restricted license that allows you to drive wheerve you would like as long as the car is equipped with the Ignition Interlock Device (breathalyzer). You should call DMV Mandatory Actions at (916) 657-6525 and ask them if you are eligible and if not, what options you have.

Jonathan Gershey Reply

Posted Jun 30, 2020 at 16:17:43

I got a DUI in Sacramento county California In Mach 2016. I started the DUI classes but before I could finish my company moved me to Florida. Now 3.5 years later I’m at a standstill with getting my license back. What can I possibly do to get my license back? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Michael Rehm Reply

Posted Jun 30, 2020 at 16:30:51

Florida or California Drivers license at the time of the incident?

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