Getting Your License Back after a DUI

In nearly every state, a DUI conviction will mean a loss of driving privileges. While this period may last from a few months to several years, most people are eager to get their licenses back as quickly as possible.

Getting your driver's license back after a DUI arrest can be a complicated process, and will depend both on your state's DUI laws and local DMV procedures. The state's driver and vehicle registration authority (typically called the Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV) is independent from the courts that hold DUI trials, so it's important to know which is the proper channel for getting your license back.

Most states allow a person with a DUI to reinstate their driver's license on one of the following grounds:

  • Temporary license: Typically, you may still be able to legally drive on a temporary license between the date of your arrest and your court date thanks to state and federal Due Process protections, even if your physical license has been confiscated at time of arrest.
  • Hardship license: You may be offered the opportunity to have an administrative hearing with your state's DMV to obtain a hardship license. Typically, this type of license can only be used to drive to and from work or school, and on essential errands.
  • Reinstatement at end of suspension: For most first and second DUI arrests, your driver's license will only be suspended for a definite period of time, though this will depend on the circumstances of your DUI. At the end of this period, you'll be able to apply to have your driving privileges reinstated. In most states, you'll likely need to re-take the written and road driving tests, plus pay any applicable fees and show proof of insurance.

Because each state's laws, and indeed each situation, is different, it's important to check with your local DMV or a DUI attorney for the particulars in your case.

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