We had a question posted recently asking the following: I have four DUIs that are 20 years old in California. How do I get my license back?
If you have multiple DUI convictions in California that resulted in license suspension or revocation, how quickly you can get your license back will vary depending on your individual circumstances. Note that license suspension technically means you have a license but are not permitted to use it, whereas license revocation means that your license has been taken away altogether. For purposes of this explanation, we will use license suspension to include revocation as well, because the point is that you cannot legally drive at present and you now want to.
In general, license suspension is not permanent but rather is for a set number of months or years. Therefore, it is likely that after 20 years you can get your license back.
Your license can be suspended by either the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or as part of the punishment for being found guilty of DUI in a court of law. With the DMV, suspension of your license is based on a point system. Points are acquired for traffic violations, with a DUI violation generally resulting in two points. If you get too many points within a set period of time—four points within a 1-year period, six points within a 2-year period, or eight points within a 3-year period—the DMV will suspend your license. However, as time passes without further violations, the points will fall off your driving record. After 20 years, all of your points would have lapsed. So from the DMV’s perspective, you should be able to get your license back.
In the case of a court of law, the length of your license suspension is based on your specific circumstances. One of the primary things that determines the severity of a DUI sentence is how many previous DUIs you have and how quickly together they occurred.
When you have a DUI in California, there is a 10-year lookback period for previous DUIs. This means the court consider other DUIs in the previous 10 years when determining how severe of a punishment to give you for your current DUI. Therefore, depending on if your four DUIs fell within a 10-year period or not would affect how long a suspension of your license you received. Regardless, it is unlikely that the suspension was for 20 years. If you do not remember how long your license was suspended for, you can always contact the court to find out the sentence given after your fourth DUI.
Assuming the time period has passed for how long your license was suspended, you can get your license back. Depending on if you technically had your licenses suspended or you had court-ordered revocation of your license, what you need to do to get your license back before you can start driving may vary. You will likely have to pass a driving test, pay various fees, and complete any other aspects of the sentence you were given as a result of your DUI convictions. Additional information about getting your license back whether suspended or under court ordered revocation can be found in the blog Reinstating license after California DUI arrest.
The above article was written by Mark J.
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