The Importance of Having a Lawyer at Your DMV Hearing
Florida takes drinking and driving seriously. Anyone caught driving under the influence will face immediate and severe consequences. This can include fines, jail time, and the loss of your license. If you rely on your driver’s license to get you to and from work, a long-term suspension can have a serious effect on your livelihood. While Florida law allows drivers to reinstate their license under some circumstances, you only have a short time to do so.
If you are in danger of losing your license after a DUI arrest, contact a skilled DUI lawyer immediately to take steps to protect your rights and ability to keep driving.
Important Notes Regarding License Suspensions
It’s a common misconception that you have to have a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit to lose your driver’s license. This is not the case. In Florida, you can lose your license under the following circumstances:
- Your blood alcohol limit is over 0.08: The legal blood alcohol limit in Florida, and in most states, is 0.08. The arresting officer will use a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol content. If your level is at or above 0.08, the officer will immediately suspend your license and issue you a 10-day permit.
- You are unable to control your vehicle: Alcohol affects different people in different ways. For some people, even blood alcohol levels far below the legal limit can interfere with their ability to drive. So, a police officer can also cite anyone for a DUI if the officer reasonably believes that a person is intoxicated, even if a breath test shows an alcohol level under the legal limit.
- You refuse a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test: Florida operates under an implied consent rule. When you get your driver’s license, you agree to undergo a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test if asked. Failure to submit to requested testing will result in an automatic one-year suspension.
Formal Review Versus Informal Review
After you receive notice of your license suspension you have the option to request a formal, informal review, or do nothing at all. If you do not request a hearing, your license will be suspended for a minimum of six months. If you choose to request a hearing, you need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type.
If you choose to request an informal review, the court will only look at the facts of the case. You will not have the opportunity to present evidence or give a verbal or written testimony. This will make it much harder to review your case. However, if you lose your informal review you still have the right to request a hardship license which allows you to get to and from work. The court has 21 days to notify you of their decision.
A formal review acts as a request for a formal hearing. This will allow you and your attorney to present evidence to make your case for reinstating your license. After receiving your request, the court has 30 days to schedule your hearing. If a hearing is not scheduled within thirty days, the suspension will be invalidated.
If you win at your formal review, your license will be reinstated and the arrest will be removed from your record. However, if you are unsuccessful at your hearing, you may receive a hard suspension that can range from 30 to 90 days. During this time, you will not be able to request a hardship license. Requesting a formal review can be risky but an experienced attorney can help you determine your options and help you defend your case.
What Happens at a DMV Hearing?
If you elect a formal review, your lawyer will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony to make your case. This may include verbal and written testimony from you and other witnesses, as well as an account from the arresting officer. You will also be able to submit any relevant evidence including any blood alcohol tests or video evidence: Several questions will come into play at the time of your hearing. These include:
- Were you in control of the vehicle? Whether you failed a blood alcohol test or refused to take one, the arresting officer must have had an actual belief that you were in control of the vehicle. If you were not driving or were a passenger in the car, you have a legal defense against the suspension.
- Did the officer have the legal right to pull you over? An officer must have just cause to pull over your car. However, the primary cause does not have to be a DUI. The police can cite you for a DUI even if they pull you over for another offense if they believe that you are under the influence of alcohol.
- Did your blood alcohol level exceed legal limits or were you clearly intoxicated? The arresting officer must prove that you had a blood-alcohol level that exceeded the legal limit or that you were clearly intoxicated. If you had a BAC below 0.08 and the officer fails to prove that you could not safely operate the vehicle, you may have grounds for dismissal.
The court has seven days to issue a decision as to whether the officer had just cause to suspend your license. After the decision, both you and the law enforcement agency have the right to appeal.
Don’t Hesitate. Contact a DMV Hearing Attorney Today.
After a DUI arrest, you only have 10 days to request an administrative hearing. If you miss this deadline, you will not be able to request a hearing, so contact a qualified DUI attorney right away to begin the process. If you face a driver’s license suspension due to a DUI arrest, you need Meldon Law.