In most circumstances, your driver's license will be revoked following your first conviction for driving while intoxicated. Depending upon the DUI statutes in your jurisdiction, the exact length of time for which you'll be ineligible to operate a motor vehicle will vary. License suspensions for first-time DUI offenders typically range in length from six months to one year. During this time, you'll be unable to drive at all unless you secure a special waiver or "restricted license" that permits you to use your car to get to work, school and driver retraining classes.
You'll want to begin the process of reinstating your license as your suspension period nears its conclusion. Since you'll have to fill out some forms and pay some fees, you should start the process at least a month prior to your suspension's end. Again, the process by which you'll reinstate your license will vary according to the laws in your jurisdiction. You won't be eligible to begin the reinstatement process unless you're current on all of your DUI-related fees and fines and have successfully completed your state-mandated driver-retraining course.
The actual reinstatement process typically involves several steps. First, you'll need to fill out a reinstatement request form and send it to your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Most states require a check for about $100 to accompany this form. Next, you'll need to obtain an SR-22 form and submit copies of it to your insurance provider and state DMV. This document proves that you still have an acceptable amount of liability insurance coverage in the wake of your DUI conviction. If you don't own a vehicle, you may be able to obtain a "non-owner" SR-22 form.
While it's crucial to be able to drive in most places, you may wish to think twice about rushing through the license reinstatement process. There are certain circumstances in which reinstating your license may not make sense in the near term.
For instance, you may have sold your car to help cover the costs of your DUI. If money remains tight and you can't afford to purchase a new vehicle, you may wish to remain unlicensed. Likewise, your insurance premiums may have become prohibitive following your conviction. If you simply can't afford the cost of insurance any longer, you may have no need to reinstate your driving privileges. After all, you can obtain a state identification card cheaply and easily.