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Restricted Licenses for Drivers under 21, After Suspension for Alcohol and Similar Related Offenses

People under the age of 21, caught driving while under the influence of any alcohol, in possession of alcohol, or other similar charges, are subject to the mandatory loss of their driver's licenses, if they have a license, or to a one year delay of the issuance of their licenses if they do not yet have a license. There is a remedy available in some cases.

While a conviction for being in possession or driving under the influence is an automatic suspension of a driving licenses, there are ways to be granted a restricted license to drive to and from the alcohol program, to and from work, and to and from school. While restricted licenses are commonplace for first offense drunk drivers, they are extremely uncommon for persons under the age of 21, who are subject to a one year license suspension, even on a first offense. The following is the legal basis upon which an application can be made for a restricted license.

Legal Argument

California Vehicle Code Section 13202.5 (c), allows a person under the age of 21, who's license has been suspended, to petition the court for an order for a restricted drivers license based on personal necessity. California Vehicle Code Section 13202.5. "Drug and alcohol related offenses by person under age of 21, but aged 13 or over; suspension, delay, or restriction of driving privileges", states in pertinent part:

(a) For each conviction of a person for any offense specified in subdivision (d), committed while the person was under the age of 21 years, but 13 years of age or older, the court shall suspend the person's driving privilege for one year...

The term "conviction" includes the findings in juvenile proceedings specified in Section 13105. .....

(b) Whenever the court suspends driving privileges pursuant to subdivision (a), the court in which the conviction is had shall require all driver's licenses held by the person to be surrendered to the court. The court shall within 10 days following the conviction transmit a certified abstract of the conviction, together with any driver's licenses surrendered, to the department [DMV].

(c) (1) After a court has issued an order suspending or delaying driving privileges pursuant to subdivision (a), the court, upon petition of the person affected, may review the order and may impose restrictions on the person's privilege to drive based upon a showing of a critical need to drive.

(2) As used in this section, "critical need to drive" means the circumstances which are required to be shown for the issuance of a junior permit pursuant to Section 12513.

(3) The restriction shall remain in effect for the balance of the period of suspension or restriction in this section. The court shall notify the department of any modification within 10 days of the order of modification...."

(d) This section applies to violations involving controlled substances or alcohol contained in the following provisions: ... (4) Section 23103 when subject to Section 23103.5, Section 23140, and Article 2 (commencing with Section 23152) of Chapter 12 of Division 11 of this code."

Critical Need to Drive

California Vehicle Code Section 12513. Junior permits; issuance

(a) Upon application,.... A person is eligible when,..., any one or more of the following circumstances exist:

[1] School or other transportation facilities are inadequate for regular attendance at school and at activities authorized by the school. The application for a junior permit shall be accompanied by a signed statement from the school principal verifying such facts. A junior permit issued under this subsection shall be restricted to operating a vehicle from residence to the school and return.

[2] Reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate and operation of a vehicle by a minor is necessary due to illness of a family member. The application shall be accompanied by a signed statement from a physician familiar with the condition, containing a diagnosis and probable date when sufficient recovery will have been made to terminate the emergency.

[3] Transportation facilities are inadequate, and use of a motor vehicle is necessary in the transportation to and from the employment of the applicant and the applicant's income from such employment is essential in the support of the family, or where the applicant's operation of a motor vehicle is essential to an enterprise from which an appreciable portion of the income of the family will be derived. ...."

(b) The existence of public transportation at reasonable intervals within one mile of the residence of the applicant may be considered adequate grounds for refusal ..."


Unfortunately, public transportation for most locations is grossly inadequate. Most people do not have public transportation within one mile of both home and work. This can be sufficient to obtain the restricted license for a young driver who would otherwise suffer a whole year without a license.

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