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California DMV Terms

There are terms used by the California Vehicle Code and the California Department of Motor Vehicles which have legal significance. You can find definitions for some of those terms on this page.

Administrative Per Se Law

California implemented an immediate driver license suspension law for drivers arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol while having a blood alcohol level of 0.08% in 1990. This law is also referred to as the Administrative Per Se (APS) license suspension law. The APS law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend or revoke the driving privilege of any person who is arrested for driving under the influence who provides an evidential breath test which indicates a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more, who submits to a blood test following a DUI arrest, or who refuses a chemical test after being arrested.

Administrative due process is provided by the California Highway Patrol Officer or local Police Officer issuing a thirty (30) day temporary license intended to provide the driver with sufficient time to challenge the license suspension by way of a DMV Hearing. The driver or the driver's attorney must request a DMV Hearing within ten (10) calendar days of the DUI arrest or the license suspension or license revocation will be imposed thirty (30) days from the date of the arrest. Those who are arrested for DUI whose cases are dismissed for insufficient evidence or whose DUI cases are never charged by the prosecuting attorney may request an APS dismissal hearing to consider setting aside the associated APS action.

Pursuant to the .08% APS law, when a driver submits to a chemical test and tests at or above 0.08% and has no prior DUI convictions or APS actions within 10 years, a four (4) month license suspension is imposed. Following a thirty (30) actual suspension, the law provides for a restricted license if the driver provides proof of insurance, proof of enrollment in an approved California DUI school, and pay a driver's license reissue fee of $125. The restricted driver's license allows for driving to and from an alcohol treatment program, to and from work, and in the course of employment.

If a driver refused a evidential chemical test, a one (1) year license suspension is imposed for a first offense, a two (2) year revocation is imposed for a second offender refusal, and a three (3) year revocation is imposed for a third or subsequent refusal within ten (10) years. There are no provisions for a restricted driver's license following a chemical test refusal allegation found to be true.

Administrative Per Se Hearings

California Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearings in the context of driving under the influence (DUI) cases are roughly divided into four basic types. The most common APS Hearing if for a driver who is over 21 years of age who has been arrested for DUI and has taken a chemical test by blowing into an evidential breath testing device or submitting to a blood test.

The second most common Administrative Per Se Hearing involves an allegation that the driver arrested for DUI refused to submit to a chemical test as required by the implied consent law. The third type of Administrative Per Se Hearing involves a person under 21 years of age who drove with a blood alcohol level of 0.01% as determined by a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device result or other chemical test result in violation of the zero tolerance law. The fourth type of Administrative Per Se Hearing involves a person on DUI probation who drove with a measurable amount of alcohol in their system in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23154.

Administrative Review of a DMV Hearing Decision

If you have suffered an adverse DMV Hearing decision in connection with a an Administrative Per Se Hearing relating to a DUI arrest, you have the right to request Administrative Review. The transcript of the DMV Hearing will then be forwarded to Sacramento where a panel of DMV Officers qualified as Hearing Officers will review the the evidence and testimony presented at the DMV Hearing to determine whether or not the decision of the Driver Safety Office Hearing Officer was correct. If the Decision of the Hearing Officer was incorrect, the licensee will be granted a Set Aside of the license suspension.

There are strict time limits following receipt of a negative DMV decision within which to request Administrative Review. Additionally, there is a nominal fee for requesting Administrative Review. A Stay of the license suspension is not available pending Administrative Review.


The California Supreme Court has concluded Vehicle Code Section 23152 requires proof of volitional movement of a vehicle.

Driver's License Suspension

California Vehicle Code Section 13102 defines the term license suspension and provides:
When used in reference to a driver's license, "suspension" means that the person's privilege to drive a motor vehicle is temporarily withdrawn. The department may, before terminating any suspension based upon a physical or mental condition of the licensee, require such examination of the licensee as deemed appropriate in relation to evidence of any condition which may affect the ability of the licensee to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Driver's License Revocation

California Vehicle Code Section 13101 defines the term driver's license revocation and provides:
When used in reference to a driver's license, "revocation" means that the person's privilege to drive a motor vehicle is terminated and a new driver's license may be obtained after the period of revocation.

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