The California Code of Civil Procedure authorizes a judge to stay the action of any administrative agency of the State while a writ action is pending to challenge that decision.
A stay only makes sense if you think about it. If we had no way to put a stop to the damage that could occur during the time it takes a judge to reverse an agency decision, we could never really reverse a decision. In the DMV context a motorist should not lose her license for the two to three months it may take to prove the suspension was wrongful.
Therefore, one of the earliest actions we take on a DMV writ case is to file an ex parte motion to stay the suspension while we fight about the writ. Often we can get the stay as early as three or four days after being retained, putting our clients back behind the wheel very quickly.
Though the statute does not specifically require it, most judges want to see that you have a really pressing need for your license, i.e., you need to drive to school, to work or for your family. The judge is authorized to deny the stay if it would not be in the "public interest," so a first offender with a 0.08 BAC and good driving will have an easier time getting a stay than a fourth offender with a 0.31 BAC who was driving the wrong way on the freeway.
All judges and all cases are different, of course, but our success rate in obtaining stays is approximately ninety percent (90%).