A California drivers license suspension is a temporary withdrawal of the driver’s privilege to operate a vehicle due to breach of certain laws and regulations. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the court have the authority to withdraw a license. The reasons for a suspended drivers license in CA vary from non-driving-related offenses, such as not paying child support, to driving-related offenses including DUI violations.

In case you are faced with a suspended driving license, you will need to have your credential reinstated. To complete this process, motorists must meet certain requirements depending on the type of violation. Find out more details about suspended licenses and procedures in California by reading the sections listed below.

Reinstating a California Suspended License

Motorists are required to apply for a CA drivers license reinstatement to restore their driving privileges within the state. To reinstate drivers licenses, applicants must adhere to certain steps which will differ based on the reason for suspension.

In general, the CA DMV will have your license suspended on the following basis: negligent driving, not having insurance at the time of an accident, driving under the influence, failure to pay a traffic ticket or family support, and being physically or mentally unfit to operate a vehicle among others.

How to Reinstate a California Suspended Drivers License

When reinstating drivers licenses in California, motorists must first examine the suspension order and know the exact reason due to which their driving privileges have been suspended or revoked. Though the CA drivers license restoration procedure is not the same for all offenses, the most common reinstatement requirements are the following:

  • Completing an obligatory suspension period.
  • Paying a reissue fee to the DMV in California or fines to the court.
  • Enrolling in a DUI treatment program and presenting a certificate of completion.
  • Filing a satisfactory Driver Medical Evaluation or other medical information (in the event of a physical or mental disorder).
  • Serving a possible imprisonment sentence.

Motorists who have been involved in a car accident while driving under the influence or did not provide proof of financial responsibility will be obliged to obtain and hand over a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR22 insurance). The insurance company where you purchase the additional coverage must be licensed by the state’s Department of Insurance.

Suspension Periods in California

The length of your CA drivers license suspension mainly depends on the type of criminal offense you have committed. Typically, a driver’s license will be suspended for 30 days in the event that a motorist has been convicted of reckless driving for the first time.

You will be issued a suspended drivers license for one year if you have refused to take a chemical test for driving under the influence. Drivers with a physical or mental condition will receive an indefinite suspension.

In case licensees accumulate too many points on their driving records, the California DMV will place them on a one-year probation including six months of suspension. You may be considered a negligent driver given you receive 4 points within a 12-month period.

California Point System

A drivers license suspension in CA can occur in the event of an excessive accumulation of negligent driver points on a motorist’s driving record. Once you have been issued a license to operate a vehicle, you must adhere to specific state laws. A revoked drivers license in California will follow provided your record includes any of the below point count totals:

  • 4 points within 12 months.
  • 6 points in 24 months.
  • 8 points in 36 months.

Traffic offenses are designated with a different number of points based on the severity of the crime. Traffic convictions or at-fault collisions are considered as 1-point violations, while hit-and-run or reckless driving, as well as DUI offenses are designated as 2 points. In case you have been cited for a 1-point violation, you may attend a DMV-authorized traffic school and have the citation removed from your driving record.

Traffic School in California

In the event of a suspended drivers license in California, motorists may have the opportunity to enroll in a traffic school and eliminate negligent points from their driving record. Licensees facing a CA drivers license suspension who have been referred by a court may participate in this program once in an 18-month period, after which a completion receipt is issued.

If you have committed a 1-point violation, for instance, the possibility to attend a state-approved traffic school course may result in points being removed from your record.

Types of California Driver’s License Suspensions

A California drivers license suspension can occur for multiple reasons. The state’s DMV or the court will prohibit motorists from driving in case of excessive alcohol and/or drug use while operating a vehicle or any involvement in a traffic accident. Below are the most common reasons for a driving license suspension in CA:

  • You are considered a negligent operator.
  • You did not provide proof of car insurance while being involved in an accident causing an injury, death or property damages over $1000.
  • You are physically or mentally unable to drive a vehicle in a safe manner.
  • You have failed to pay a traffic ticket or did not appear in court on a traffic citation.
  • You have not met your child support payment requirements.
  • You have been involved in vandalism.
  • You have failed or refused a drug or alcohol test.

CA DUI Suspensions

A CA revoked license suspension order or revocation will be issued to motorists who are detained or arrested for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. California laws are highly strict when it comes to DUI-related issues, and it is illegal to drive on public streets and highways with an excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Both the DMV and the local courts are authorized to take separate actions for this type of offense. If you are arrested and facing a drivers license suspension, you may request a DMV administrative hearing within 10 days to prove that the arrest has not been justified.

Drivers Older Than 21

Motorists older than 21 years of age will have a suspended drivers license or may even serve a jail time if their BAC level is .08 percent or more. The CA drivers license suspension period will mainly depend on the BAC test results.

In case drivers encounter a DUI conviction for the first time, their driving privileges will be revoked for six months. To reinstate their drivers licenses in California, they must complete a DUI program, present proof of SR22 insurance and pay the allotted reissue fees.

Motorists with a BAC of .15 percent or more at the time of testing and other existing violations on their driving record are obliged to attend a nine-month program. You will be issued a 10-month drivers license suspension for a BAC level of .20 percent or more, and you must complete an enhanced DUI treatment course. Drivers involved in a car accident resulting in an injury will face a suspension of one year.

Note: If you have been convicted of DUI, you may be obliged to install an ignition interlock device in your motor vehicle. The IID will take a breath sample and prevent you from starting the vehicle provided any alcohol is detected on your breath.

Drivers Younger Than 21

If you are younger than 21 years of age and do not want to have a suspended drivers license in California, you must stay in accordance with the Zero Tolerance Law for Alcohol Use. Drivers who are caught with a .01 percent or more blood alcohol level may have their license suspended for one year under this law.

Car Insurance Suspensions

Motorists will face an immediate CA drivers license suspension if they fail to provide proof of car insurance in case of a collision. According to state law, drivers are obliged to purchase the minimum coverage, thus show financial responsibility whenever they operate a motor vehicle. The minimum insurance amounts per collision are currently set at $15,000 for a single death or injury, $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person and $5,000 for property damage. You must meet the drivers license reinstatement requirements to receive your license back.

Traffic Summons or Failure To Pay

Licensees can be issued a California suspended drivers license upon failure to pay a traffic ticket or appear in court on a traffic citation. Note that fines can be handled through the specified traffic court at the bottom of the form. Should you ignore to arrange payment for a fine, the DMV will be notified by the court and it will show on your driving record. If you fail to adhere to the aforementioned requirements even once, your license will be suspended.

Note: When appearing in court, you will have the option to plead guilty or not guilty or pay the citation fine.

CA Hardship Drivers License

When issued a CA drivers license suspension for operating a vehicle under the influence, drivers may be allowed to obtain a hardship (restricted) license provided they meet the set requirements. The hardship license applies to motorists older than 21 (unless they hold a CDL) and restricts them to drive to/from work or DUI course locations. If the court considers you a traffic safety risk due to other actions, however, you may be prohibited from the issuance of this type of license.

Applying for a California Hardship License

If motorists are dealing with a drivers license suspension in California, they can be issued a restricted license to operate a vehicle upon successful completion of the necessary steps. The provisional drivers license application procedure involves completing a mandatory suspension period, presenting a DUI course completion form and a California Proof Insurance Certificate (SR22), as well as paying the restriction and reissuance cost at the local DMV office in CA. Drivers who have committed a DUI violation more than once will be required to install the ignition interlock device on their motor vehicle in addition.

Drivers License Reinstatement Fees

To complete the California drivers license reinstatement procedure, licensees must arrange payment for the allotted fees. The standard administrative cost for a suspended or revoked license is currently set at $55. The CA DMV will also charge the following reinstatement fees:

  • Drug suspension: $24.
  • Adding a court restriction: $15.
  • Removing a driver license restriction: $20.

Note that the drivers license restoration fee may be higher in case your license has been suspended due to alcohol use while driving. For drivers younger than 21 years of age, who are suspended under the Zero Tolerance Law for Alcohol Use, the set reissue fee is in the amount of $100. These fees are subject to change without notice.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 3 2020.