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Understanding the Administrative License Suspension (ALS) in California

The Administrative License Suspension (ALS) is a key component of California's approach to handling DUI (driving under the influence) offenses. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of ALS, including its enforcement, the process of challenging a suspension, and the consequences for drivers. By grasping the details of ALS, you can better navigate the legal landscape if you face DUI charges in California.

What is Administrative License Suspension (ALS)?

Administrative License Suspension (ALS) is a process where the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can automatically suspend a driver's license following a DUI arrest. This suspension is separate from any criminal penalties and is an administrative action taken by the DMV.

How ALS is Enforced in California

1. Immediate Suspension:

    - When a driver is arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will confiscate the driver's license and issue a temporary license valid for 30 days.

    - The officer will also provide a Notice of Suspension, which initiates the ALS process.

2. Conditions for ALS:

    - ALS can be enforced if the driver refuses to submit to chemical testing or if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit of 0.08% for adults, 0.04% for commercial drivers, or 0.01% for drivers under 21.

The Process of Challenging an ALS

1. Requesting a DMV Hearing:

    - You have the right to challenge the ALS by requesting a DMV hearing within 10 days of receiving the Notice of Suspension.

    - Failure to request a hearing within this timeframe results in an automatic suspension.

2. The DMV Hearing:

    - The DMV hearing is an administrative process separate from the criminal court proceedings.

    - During the hearing, you can present evidence and arguments to contest the suspension.

    - The hearing officer will consider whether the arresting officer had reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence, whether you were lawfully arrested, and whether you refused or failed the chemical test.

3. Possible Outcomes:

    - If you win the DMV hearing, your license suspension will be set aside.

    - If you lose, the suspension will take effect, and you will need to comply with the DMV's requirements for reinstatement.

Consequences of ALS for Drivers

1. License Suspension Duration:

    - For a first DUI offense, the suspension is typically four months.

    - For subsequent offenses or refusal to submit to chemical testing, the suspension period can be longer, ranging from one to three years.

2. Impact on Driving Record:

    - An ALS will be recorded on your driving record, which can affect your insurance premiums and employment opportunities.

3. Reinstatement Requirements:

    - To reinstate your license after a suspension, you must complete the DMV's requirements, which may include a DUI education program, providing proof of financial responsibility (SR-22 insurance), and paying reinstatement fees.

Practical Advice for Handling an ALS

1. Act Quickly:

    - Request a DMV hearing within 10 days of receiving the Notice of Suspension to preserve your right to challenge the suspension.

2. Seek Legal Assistance:

    - Consult with an experienced DUI attorney who can help you navigate the ALS process and represent you at the DMV hearing.

3. Prepare for the Hearing:

    - Gather evidence and witness statements that can support your case.

    - Understand the legal grounds on which you can challenge the suspension, such as questioning the validity of the traffic stop or the accuracy of the chemical test.

4. Comply with Reinstatement Requirements:

    - If your suspension is upheld, follow all DMV requirements for reinstatement promptly to minimize the period you are without a valid license.

Legal Defenses Against ALS

1. Challenging Reasonable Cause:

    - Argue that the officer lacked reasonable cause to stop or arrest you for DUI.

2. Questioning Chemical Test Validity:

    - Challenge the accuracy or administration of the chemical tests, including issues with calibration or procedural errors.

3. Proving Compliance:

    - Demonstrate that you did not refuse the chemical test and complied with all legal requirements during the DUI stop.


Understanding the Administrative License Suspension (ALS) process in California is vital for drivers facing DUI charges. By knowing your rights, the steps to challenge a suspension, and the potential consequences, you can better navigate the legal process and protect your driving privileges.

Final Thoughts

Facing an ALS can be daunting, but taking proactive steps and seeking legal guidance can make a significant difference. Requesting a DMV hearing, preparing a strong defense, and complying with reinstatement requirements are crucial actions that can help you manage the impact of a DUI arrest on your driving record and daily life. Always remember that understanding the legal landscape and your rights is the first step towards achieving the best possible outcome in your case.

H Law Group Online

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