What does restricted status mean?
Unlike a suspended license (which prohibits driving entirely), a restricted license allows a person to drive to and from work, and to and from a court-ordered DUI program.
When can a person apply for restricted status following a conviction for a repeat DUI offense?
Under existing law, a person convicted of a second-time DUI must serve at least 12 months of a two-year license suspension before applying for restricted status. The new law shortens the 12-month period to 90 days. Similarly, under existing law, a person convicted of a third-time DUI who was required to serve 12 months of a three-year suspension before applying for restricted status must now wait only six months.
What's the catch?
Two critical elements of SB 598 include the following: First, a person who wants to take advantage of the shortened period must install an ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicle he or she drives. An IID does not permit the vehicle to start unless the driver (with no alcohol on his or her breath) first blows into it. Those not opting for an IID must wait the longer period before applying for a restriction. Second, the law does not go into effect until July 10, 2010. What exactly that means is unclear. It can be argued, for example, that the law applies: (1) only to people arrested for DUI on or after that date, (2) only to people convicted on or after that date, or (3) to everyone whose license is suspended as of July 10, 2010. It also can be argued that even though the statute says it is inoperative until July 10, 2010, due process principles require that it be applied immediately.
What is the likely interpretation of the July 10, 2010 date?
While it is impossible to predict with certainty how an appellate court will rule, my bet is that the courts will reject a due process argument, but rule that the law applies to everyone whose license suspension is in effect as of July 10, 2010, regardless of the date of arrest and/or conviction.
Where can I learn how this law applies in my situation?
Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who is aware of DUI sentencing laws and appellate decisions concerning prospective vs. retroactive application of legislation. You can also read the text of the new law at the link posted below: