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If you are under 21 and are convicted of a Vehicle Code 23152, 23140 or 23136, the California DMV is going to suspend your license for one year.  For minors, there is a special restricted license, referred to as a “critical need” driver’s license. The “critical need” is not like a restricted license for adults, it is difficult to obtain. Just like the adult suspension though, there is a 30 day period of complete non-restricted status with the critical need. After 30 days though, the minor can apply for a critical need license if the following prerequisites are met:

  1. The minor actually completed a chemical test or a PAS with a 0.01% or more; and
  2. There is an actual critical need

What is a critical need?

  1. School
  2. Employment, but only if that employment is necessary to support yourself or your family.
  3. Work for the family business, and the minors’ driving is essential.
  4. Medical appointments of family member and the driving is essential.

And ;

  1. There is no public transportation that is adequate; or
  2. No private transportation in the household is adequate.

You basically have to show that there is no transportation possible for the minor to attend school or work, and in the case of work if there is no public or private transportation available, that the job is absolutely necessary.

Also, one important thing to look out for in the courthouse is that some judges are unaware of the “critical need” restriction and during sentencing will suspend the minors license for one year believing the law requires it. It is crucial that your DUI attorney explain to the court about the critical need possibility and most courts will leave any suspension up to the DMV. But in some circumstances, if the court unknowingly suspends the driver’s license, and the DMV later grants a critical need restriction, the court suspension will still stand and the minor will still be without a driver’s license.

The two statutes that deal with the critical need driver’s license are below. The application is also below.  As can be seen, in Vehicle 13353.8, the section that discusses the critical need, the statute references Vehicle Code 12513, which normally deals with Junior Permits. The same standard used to determine the necessity of a junior permit, is used to determine the necessity of a “critical need” license.

DMV Critical Need Application


Restricted License: Persons Under 21

13353.8.  (a) After the department has issued an order suspending or delaying driving privileges as a result of a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 23136, the department, upon the 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, if the department determines that, within 10 years of the current violation of Section 23136, the person has not violated Section 23136 or been convicted of a separate violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153, or of Section 23103, with a plea of guilty under Section 23103.5, or of Section 191.5 or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of the Penal Code, and that the person’s driving privilege has not been suspended or revoked under Section 13353, 13353.1, or 13353.2 within that 10-year period.

(b) For purposes of this section, a conviction of an offense in a state, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the Dominion of Canada that, if committed in this state, would be a violation of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23140, 23152, 23153, or Section 191.5 or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of the Penal Code, is a conviction of that particular section of the Vehicle Code or Penal Code.

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

(d) The restriction shall be imposed not earlier than the 31st day after the date the order of suspension became effective and shall remain in effect for the balance of the period of suspension or restriction in this section.


Junior Permits; Issuance

12513.  (a) Upon application, successful completion of tests and compliance with Sections 17700 to 17705, inclusive, the department may issue a junior permit to any person 14 years of age, but less than 18, who establishes eligibility as required by this section. A person is eligible when, in the opinion of the department, any one or more of the following circumstances exist:

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.

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.

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. The application shall be accompanied by a signed statement from the parents or the guardian, setting forth the reasons a permit is necessary under this subsection.

(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 of a junior permit.

(c) The department shall impose restrictions upon junior permits appropriate to the conditions and area under which they are intended to be used.

Contact Attorney Michael Rehm at (650) 293-9070 for a free, confidential consultation.


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