Is your License Immediately Suspended After a DUI?

No. There is a period after your arrest, typically 10 to 15 days, where you have time to file documents with the court to preserve your license or reduce the suspension time considerably. 

A law enforcement officer is not a judge and can only arrest you. Police officers enforce the laws. They cannot penalize offenders or decide if someone will have their license suspended immediately, get jail time, or receive probation. 

However, a police officer can, will, and should remove someone who is drunk driving from the road. They are a grave danger to other motorists and their passengers. If you fail road tests for alcohol or drug use, you will not only be arrested but also have to leave your car. You cannot drive after an officer has determined probable cause for a DUI arrest.

The officer may allow you to call someone to come get the car, but that is at their sole discretion. The officer can also call for a tow truck to take your car to impound. 

Towing and impound fees are shockingly expensive. In no time, you will owe hundreds or even thousands in charges to the tow yard. The yard has the legal right to keep your vehicle until you pay these fees in full.  

If you don’t pay them after a certain period of time, usually exceeding 30 days, the yard has the legal right to sell your vehicle at auction. 

You risk arrest and license revocation whenever you drink alcohol around a vehicle. You can be arrested not just for driving but also for being anywhere near your vehicle while intoxicated. 

If an officer sees you stumble out of your car, apparently intoxicated, you can be arrested for that. The same goes for sleeping in your car while drunk or high. 

What Happens After an Arrest for DUI?

Under most state laws, the legal blood alcohol limit for driving a vehicle is 0.08%. 

A DUI, called DWI for driving while intoxicated in some states, has serious consequences, even for a first offense. Although this will typically be a misdemeanor, you will still need to go to court, pay fines, and follow the procedures to restore and preserve your driving privileges. 

Not all states have the same laws, but in most states, first-time DWI charges will result in you having your license suspended immediately. However, the time period for this suspension is directly related to whether you refused a breathalyzer test or not. 

If you complied with the breathalyzer test at the time of arrest, your license will be suspended for 30 days, followed by a 60-day period of restricted driving. 

Those who refuse to take the breathalyzer test will lose their driver’s license for one year. People in both groups can apply to get their driving privileges restored sooner, but those who fail to act at all will be required by law to stop driving 15 days after a DWI arrest. 

DWI Defense Options

Administrative Review

This means you’re going to fight the charges. This review challenges the arrest on some legal points. For example, it might say that the breathalyzer wasn’t maintained or calibrated properly, giving a false reading. In other words, you attempt to prove that the officer had no probable cause to arrest you. 

An administrative review must be filed within 15 days of the arrest. After that, a driver’s license suspension will be automatic. You should always seek legal counsel for an administrative review.

Petition for Review

This is an option for those who refused a breathalyzer test. A first offense is the most likely to succeed. A petition for review, if granted by the Department of Revenue, is a form of a probation agreement. 

For example, you may get a SIS or suspended imposition of sentence in exchange for your agreement not to consume alcohol or frequent places that serve it for the probationary period of two years.


Like all forms of probation, your imposition of court penalties is only contingent. If you violate your probation terms, the court can and likely will sentence you as they would have without the probation agreement. 

DUIs Are a Serious Offense

Each state takes intoxicated driving seriously, and a DUI will almost always result in you having your license suspended immediately. It doesn’t necessarily have to be alcohol. Any substance making you an unsafe driver can cause a DUI arrest. 

Many people think you cannot be arrested for a blood alcohol content or BAC of less than 0.08%. You should know that this isn’t true. If your BAC is under the legal limit, but you have consumed alcohol and are driving in a manner hazardous to yourself and others, you can still be arrested for DUI. 

At the very minimum, and even for a first offense, most state laws require three years of probation, attendance at court-approved alcohol classes that you must pay for, fines of several thousand dollars, and even possible jail time. 

Jail time is more likely if you were speeding or had children in the car at the time of your arrest. If you injured someone, you could be charged with a felony. 

Consider calling a rideshare or taxi anytime you’re drinking outside your home. If you don’t drive your car to the event where there will be alcohol, you can’t drive it back home, either. 

Getting a Lawyer for DWI Defense

An arrest for DWI or DUI is always serious and usually means your license will be suspended. Never try to navigate the complex court system without legal representation like a criminal defense attorney. 

A criminal defense lawyer or law firm may be able to reduce court penalties, allow you to not lose your license, and may even get the case dismissed altogether, depending on circumstances.