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Traveling on suspended license

After you are convicted of a DUI in California, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked. This means you no longer have the right to drive in the state. However, you retain the right to travel within and outside the state as a passenger. The U.S. Constitution grants citizens the right to travel between states (Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution).1 This right, also called freedom of movement, is a fundamental constitutional right2. It was defined in 1869 as the right to enter and leave into other states.3

If you arrested for DUI, you need to act immediately to protect your license. Even though you can travel without a license, you may have to obtain documents, such as a passport, before you can leave the state.

What Do TSA and Common Carriers Need to See?

Adults who travel by planes and other large carriers are required by the airlines and the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to show a valid U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID. The ID should contain your name, date of birth, gender, expiration date, and a tamper-resistant feature, such as the tactile, laser-engraved signature on your California driver’s license.

A passenger who refuses to present an ID and who will not cooperate in the identity verification process will not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint, and thereafter travel. Only if you have lost your primary ID or it has expired will TSA accept forms of ID other than a federal or state issued card to verify your identity.

What alternate ID should I get in California?

In California, when your driver’s license is no longer valid, the correct form of identification to obtain is a California identification card.4 You can obtain this card from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A person of any age can obtain a California ID card. The card is valid for six years, except if you are 62 or over. Then the card is typed a senior citizen ID card and is valid for 10 years. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you can use a California ID card, your California driver’s license if you have one, or your passport.

What Happens When You Lose Your Driver’s License

The length of the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license depends on the seriousness of your offense. A suspension typically runs between 30 days to one year. If you are arrested and your license is confiscated by a law enforcement officer, the officer is supposed to provide you with an Order of Suspension/Revocation. This is usually a pink piece of paper. If the officer did not provide you with one, the DMV will send you one.

The order includes a temporary driver’s license that is valid for 30 days from the issue date. Your driver’s license suspension/revocation will begin at the end of the period of 30 days stated on the order. The order is a letter and is not a form of identification. You should not use it to travel.

You can lose your driver’s license for reasons other than a DUI conviction. These include the following:

  • Failing to appear (FTA) in court, for receiving a traffic ticket or being called as a witness in a case
  • Failing to pay a fine resulting from a FTA
  • Not having proof of car insurance
  • Failing to pay required child support payments
  • Driving when you are physically or mentally unfit to do so; and
  • Accumulating 4 points with the DMV in a period of 12 months.

Your suspension or revocation will come into effect 30 days after you receive your Order of Suspension/Revocation.

If your driver’s license was suspended because of a DUI or a failure to obtain car insurance, you may be eligible to apply for a restricted driver’s license to use until your permanent license is reinstated. A restricted license is typically valid for 5 months. You can use a restricted license to travel. After your period of suspension/revocation is up, you can obtain your driver’s license back from the state by paying a reissue fee of $125 to the California DMV. Then you can use your driver’s license to travel again.

Call the Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are arrested for DUI, a Wallin & Klarcih attorney can help you protect your driver’s license and represent you in an administrative hearing before the DMV. With the help of one of our experienced DUI lawyers, you may be able to keep your license or get a restricted license that you can use to get to and from work, and travel between states as needed.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, and Victorville, our skilled DUI attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live. We have over 30 years of experience successfully defending those facing DUI charges. We can help you, too.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


1. U.S. Constit. art. IV

2. Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Fed. Cas. 546 (1823)

3. Paul v. Virginia, 75 U.S. 168 (1869)

4. California Department of Motor Vehicles: Driver License and Identification Card Information

5. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/dl/dl_info#idcard

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