How Does a DUI Impact Your Driver’s License in California?

Being convicted of a DUI can mean lasting consequences for your freedom. Depending on the facts of your case and how it is handled, you might end up spending time in jail or prison for the offense. But your loss of freedom can go beyond jail time. In many cases, you could lose driving privileges after a DUI conviction.

Getting your license suspended can make it hard for you to go to work or otherwise live your life. And driving with a suspended license isn’t a good option, because that’s a crime in itself and can lead to further penalties and points on your license.

Find out more about negligent operator points and other consequences of a DUI conviction below. Then learn how a criminal defense attorney can help if you’re facing a driving under the influence charge.

Negligent Operator Points for Driving Under the Influence

The California Department of Motor Vehicles uses a system called the Negligent Operator Treatment System. Under this system, drivers get points on their license for certain types of convictions, including traffic tickets for speeding and operating an unsafe vehicle as well as DUI and hit-and-run convictions.

A DUI is considered a two-point conviction under the Negligent Operator Treatment System. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you will get two NOTS points on your license.

What Happens When You Get Too Many Negligent Operator Points?

If you accumulate two points within 12 months, you get a warning letter from the DMV. Since a DUI is two points, you will get a warning letter associated with those two points. If you get three points within 12 months, you may receive a notice of the intent to suspend your license.

If you get four points within 12 months, your license will be suspended. The same is true if you get six points within 24 months or eight points within 36 months.

The California DMV notes that you may receive these penalties with some major convictions, such as DUI, even without incurring the applicable number of points within the time period.

Suspension of Driving Privileges for DUI Convictions

Suspension of your driving privileges is a common consequence of a DUI conviction even without taking into account the points system. In fact, you will likely lose your driving privileges for at least a few months if you are convicted of a DUI.

How Long Do You Lose Your License in California Due to DUI?

When a law enforcement officer believes that you are operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will ask you to take a chemical test. This might be a blood alcohol test, for example.

If you fail the test — for instance, if you have a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, which means you’re above the legal limit — and you’re convicted of the DUI, you lose your license for four months. That’s for the first offense.

Second DUI convictions within 10 years of the first conviction can result in a license suspension of an entire year.

Note that the above information is relevant for drivers who are 21 years of age or older. Younger drivers who are convicted of DUI lose their license for a full year, even if it’s their first offense.

How Long Will You Lose Your License if You Refuse the Chemical Test?

In California, you are required to submit to the chemical test if an officer asks you to. Not submitting to the test will result in the loss of your license for a full year.

Are There Any Options for Keeping Driving Privileges?

You may be able to get an exception and keep restricted driving privileges. For example, if you can demonstrate that you need to drive to work and back and have no other options for earning the wages you need to live, you might get an exception. This typically requires that an ignition interlock device is installed on your vehicle.


An ignition interlock device is a device that you blow into. It measures your blood alcohol content and will only allow you to start your vehicle if you are below the legal limit. In most cases, you have to pay to lease or purchase the device and have it installed in your car if you qualify for the program.

Work With a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Safeguard Your Rights

If you are facing a DUI charge, it’s important to protect your rights and freedom. The criminal justice system can be complex, and you may not know how to best defend yourself against these charges or advocate for the best possible outcome in your case.

Working with a criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the system in a more proactive way. Lawyers experienced with DUI cases can help you understand what your options for defense might be. Can you call into question the results of the chemical test? Did the officer conduct the arrest in the required manner? Are there extenuating circumstances that might impact how you are sentenced in the case?

All of these are important questions to consider. If you or a loved one are facing DUI charges, contact Confianza Legal by calling 562-991-6298 today to find out how we can help with the case.