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If Arrested For DUI Of Drugs, Will The DMV Take Your License?

November 4, 2016


Due to the increase of officer training focusing on arresting for drug related driving under the influence, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) has had an uptick in referrals for drug related DUI arrests. Typically, when it comes to DUI suspensions the DMV has jurisdiction for alcohol related suspension when a person is over 21 years old and has a .08 blood alcohol content (“bac”) or greater; or if the person is under 21 years old with a .01 bac. There are also suspension actions when a person is over 21 years old and has a .01 bac or greater while on probation for a prior DUI. The DMV usually does not have jurisdiction for DUI’s that do not fall within these categories.


Then what happens if a person does not have any alcohol in his system when arrested for DUI? If the DUI is suspected to be only drug related does the DMV have the power to suspend a person’s license? In certain situations, yes, the DMV does have jurisdiction to suspend a person’s license for a drug related DUI. Currently, however, there are not many instances when the DMV can use this power.


Sometimes a person is arrested for a drug related DUI and refuses to provide the officers with a breath, blood, or urine sample. The officer will treat this DUI arrest as a refusal. The DMV has jurisdiction for all refusal cases. Therefore, when a person is arrested on a drug related DUI and refuses a chemical test the DMV now has the power to suspend that person’s license. The DMV goes from having zero authority whatsoever to take a person’s license to the ability to take the license for one to three years based on the refusal.


The DMV can also conduct a Re-examination (physical and mental) exam on a person who is arrested for a DUI drugs. During the Re-exam process the DMV typically requests the person’s physician to complete a Driver’s Medical Evaluation form. This document is very critical. Therefore, a competent attorney should be retained as soon as a Re-exam notice is given to the driver. The DMV will also interview the driver regarding the arrest. If the person refuses to cooperate with the DMV, or asserts his 5th Amendment Right against self-incrimination, or otherwise performs unsatisfactorily during the Re-exam process, then the DMV can suspend that person’s license indefinitely. The DMV often times requires a person to take a written and / or driving test during the Re-examination process as well.

In conclusion, the law presently does not allow the DMV to have jurisdiction over DUI arrests based solely on drug use unless the DMV is doing a Re-Examination.

In most cases if a person is arrested solely for a DUI related to drug use and that person provides a chemical sample, then the person will not receive a license suspension.

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