Monday, June 18, 2012

What if I Have a DUI but Don't Live in California and the DMV is Suspending my License?

Here is the scenario:  You get arrested in California for DUI and the DMV issues you a pink piece of paper stating your privilege to drive here will be suspended.  You request a hearing and you lose, your privilege to drive in CA is now suspended.  But what if you do not live in California? The California DMV will take action against your CA license ( Or privilege to drive in CA) even if you do not live in the state if you blow a .08 and lose the administrative hearing or you are convicted of a DUI in Court. One of the biggest sources of frustration is when an out of state resident gets a DUI here and goes back to their home state and get a letter in the mail explaining their license is suspended and will not be restored unless they complete an in state DUI program, in California. Or another example is the person gets a DUI in California -- then moves to another state where they satisfy the terms of your court ordered probation by waiting out the suspension period and compeleting an out-of-state DUI Program. They then find that regardless of whether you move back to California, no DMV in any state in the country will give you a driver's license.  The person facing a suspension can get very frustrated in trying to find out what to do.

The person has two options (1) come to California and complete the approved in person DUI classes (AB541 or greater), or (2) move to another state and waive your "privilege" to drive in California.  So long as you live in California, Calfiornia DMV will never accept completion of an alcohol class from another state. The in-person class must be taken in California even if the court accepted an out-of-state or online program in satisfaction of probation. (Note: DMV requirements and the Court probation conditions are separate.)

If you move out-of-state, you can call DMV Mandatory Actions Unit in Sacramento, California, at (916) 657-6525 and ask for a "1650 waiver packet." They will only mail this packet to the licensee at an out-of-state address (you will also have to prove you live out-of-state with a utility bill or such). This waiver allows out-of-state licensees to drive in California, but does not allow the out-of-state licensee to acquire a California license within 3 years of filing the waiver. One can only qualify for the 1650 waiver once in a lifetime according to DMV information.   The 1650 Waiver removes the California hold, assuming an SR22 is also on file with DMV.

If you come back to California within 3-years and want your license back, you will have to take the applicable in state California DUI class.

The above process is required only if you are convicted in Court for VC23152 or 23153, if you are not convicted in Court of one of these code sections but still sustained an administrative suspension due to having a .08 or higher breath or blood test, under 21 zero tolerance, or refusal, you may not need to get a 1650 waiver but will still be required to file an SR22, ride out the administrative suspension and pay the reissue fees.


  1. Is there any precedent for the DMV refusing the 1650 packet? I got my DUI then moved out of state. The DMV is now saying that even tho I have been mailed this packet three times now I am not eligible ever unless I come back to California and complete the program.

  2. The statement that one can only apply for the 1650 waiver is inaccurate. As of 8/2012 I spoke with an agent in the CA. DMV Mandatory Action Unit that said this policy was changed and one can now do it more than once in a lifetime. Also proof of residency requirements include written statements of residency from family members that provide housing to the applicant as long as the housing provided is in any state other than CA. Hope this helps.