How to Win a DMV DUI Hearing
More than 5,000 confirmed crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers occur in Florida each year, resulting in thousands of injuries and hundreds of fatalities. Beyond the accident statistics, however, there are also serious consequences for those who have been accused of drinking and driving.
If you’ve been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) in Florida, you may know that you’re entitled to an administrative review of your case. However, do you know what that review entails? Do you know what potential consequences you face if you lose? Do you know how to win?
Read on for more information about DUI administrative reviews and what you need to do to maximize your chance of avoiding the financial damage and loss of your freedoms that may result from a DUI conviction. Then you’ll want to ask an experienced DUI lawyer how the law applies to your situation.
The Consequences of DUI Convictions
As explained by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, being convicted of DUI in Florida is an extremely serious matter and involves penalties that grow increasingly more severe with each additional conviction.
Some consequences faced by Florida drivers who are convicted of DUI include:
- Fines: The fines for a DUI range between $500 and $1,000 for the first conviction, increased to $1,000 to $2,000 if the individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was .15 percent or higher, or there was a minor in the vehicle. These fines increase with each subsequent conviction.
- Imprisonment: The first DUI conviction may result in up to six months in jail, with a jail sentence of up to nine months for a BAC of 0.15 percent or greater, or when there is a minor in the vehicle. As with fines, the potential for imprisonment and the length of the jail sentence increases with subsequent convictions. More than one conviction within ten years results in mandatory jail time of at least 10 days, 48 hours of which must be served consecutively.
- Impoundment or immobilization of vehicle: Although exceptions may be made if the family has no other means of transportation, a DUI conviction may result in impoundment or immobilization of an individual’s vehicle for at least 10 days for the first conviction, and up to 90 days for a third conviction if less than 10 years have passed since the previous conviction. Impoundment cannot occur concurrently with imprisonment.
- Driver’s license revocation: An individual who has been convicted of a DUI may lose his or her driver’s license for at least 180 days, with a maximum of one-year revocation on the first offense, with this time increased if there is an accident that involves bodily injury. This time period may increase to five years or more on subsequent convictions. The administrative suspension of one’s license is effective immediately upon arrest on suspicion of DUI or upon refusal to take a blood-alcohol test. A 10-day permit may be issued for the individual to request an administrative review hearing.
The Administrative Review Process
- Amending or invalidating an administrative suspension of one’s license after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
- Reinstating one’s license for business or employment after the revocation of one’s license due to conviction of DUI or refusing to submit to a blood alcohol test, after having completed mandatory alcohol counseling as ordered by the court.
- Reinstatement of one’s license after the mandatory five-year revocation period following a DUI manslaughter conviction with no prior DUI convictions for business or employment, known as a hardship reinstatement. The applicant must prove that he or she has been alcohol or drug-free for at least five years after the conviction, has not operated a motor vehicle for at least five years, and has completed required DUI education courses. The applicant must also agree to have an interlock device placed on his or her vehicle for a period of at least two years.
The administrative review process applies only to the reinstatement or the amendment of a suspension of one’s driver’s license. The review process is not a criminal trial. Furthermore, you cannot use the outcome of the administrative review process as evidence in a criminal trial.
Can You Win?
It is very possible to garner a positive outcome from an administrative review. This positive outcome might include not having your license suspended or being permitted to use your vehicle for work or school via a hardship reinstatement. While the outcome of such a process is not guaranteed, one of the most important things that you can do to place the odds in your favor is to hire an experienced DUI lawyer to assist you in the process.
The services that your DUI lawyer can provide in this process include:
- Explaining the differences between a formal and an informal review, so you can make an informed decision as to which type of review will work best in your circumstances.
- The timely and proper filing of this review in the appropriate jurisdiction.
- Assistance in preparing all documents and evidence that you need to present at the review hearing.
- Helping you to understand all communication provided to you in this process and ensuring that you have met the conditions of the reinstatement.
In addition to these services, your attorney will also begin working on your criminal case, looking carefully at the details of the traffic stop or accident that led to your arrest, the field and lab tests that were administered, how you were treated during questioning, and how your arrest was performed to ensure that your rights were not violated during the investigative process. Using these details, your attorney will work with you on developing a strong legal argument for your case that limits your potential consequences.
The administrative process is just one step in the long legal process that follows a DUI arrest, charge, and conviction. Don’t leave your ability to drive to work, your financial stability, or your freedom to chance. Talk to an experienced DUI attorney right away to begin moving your case in a positive direction today.