DUI Driver’s License Suspension Hearings in Florida
A conviction for drunk driving could result in probation, costly fines and fees, community service, and even jail time. Your DUI defense attorney will put together a strong case to help you avoid a conviction for DUI or escape some of the harsher penalties you could be subject to. But apart from your criminal case, there is an entirely separate consequence of a DUI you’ll have to deal with – the suspension of your driver’s license.
Under Florida law, your driver’s license gets suspended as soon as you are arrested for DUI. There is no waiting to see if you are actually found guilty before your license gets pulled. In fact, even if you are found not guilty of driving under the influence, or the charges get dropped and you never go to trial, your driver’s license still stays suspended. That suspension lasts for six months on a first DUI offense.
The good news is that there are ways to fight a DUI driver’s license suspension, but you must move fast. The skilled and experienced Florida DUI defense attorneys at Meldon Law can help you. While we are fighting to defend you against DUI charges in court, we’ll also work to help you keep your driver’s license and avoid suspension. Call Meldon Law after a DUI arrest for immediate help getting your license back.
How Does My License Get Suspended After a DUI Arrest?
Florida law requires the officer who pulled you over to suspend your license if you blow .08% or more on a breath test or if you refuse to take the test when the officer requires you to. The suspension period is six months for a first offense or one year if you have a previous DUI on your record. If you refuse to take the breath test, your license gets suspended for one year on a first offense or 18 months if you have a prior test refusal on your record.
Drivers under 21 can be arrested for DUI with a blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) of .02%, which is basically a zero-tolerance law. Commercial drivers can lose their CDL commercial driver’s license if they test with a BAC as low as .04%, regardless of whether they were on duty or driving a commercial vehicle when they got pulled over.
How Can Meldon Law Help Me Keep My License?
At the time your license gets taken from you, the officer should provide you with a ten-day temporary permit, assuming you are otherwise eligible to continue driving. This ten-day window gives you a short but critical period to contest the suspension of your driver’s license.
Florida law gives you ten days from the time you receive a notice of suspension (this is given to you at the time of your arrest when the officer takes your license) to request either a formal review or informal review of the suspension with Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
If you request an informal review, your case will be heard by a Hearing Officer who conducts a review of any materials submitted by you and the police officer. Based on this review, the Hearing Officer can uphold, modify or cancel the suspension. You should receive a notice of the Hearing Officer’s decision within 21 days from the expiration date of your temporary permit.
If you request a formal review, your case will be heard by a Hearing Officer who conducts a formal hearing. Much like a trial, the Hearing Officer can examine witnesses under oath and hear their testimony, issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify, and receive and examine relevant evidence. If you request a formal review, FLHSMV is required to schedule your hearing within 30 days of your request, and a decision should be sent to you within seven days of the hearing. Just as with an informal review, the Hearing Officer can uphold, modify or cancel the suspension of your driver’s license.
At both informal and formal reviews, Hearing Officers make their decision based on the “preponderance of the evidence.” This is a much lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required to prove a criminal case. The government has an easier time here proving its case, so you’ll need to be prepared with a strong case of your own that shows the Hearing Officer that the evidence weighs more heavily in your favor and not the State’s.
A review of the license suspension is basically limited to the questions of whether or not the police had probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence and whether or not you had a BAC of .08 or more. If the suspension is based on a refusal to test, another issue is whether the police informed you of the consequences of a test refusal as required by law.
What Is a Restricted License?
If you can show that a driver’s license would cause serious hardship to you or your family, the department may allow you to keep your driver’s license with restricted driving privileges. The types of restricted licenses include:
- Restricted to employment purposes only – You will be allowed to drive to and from work and also do any on-the-job driving required by your employer or occupation.
- Restricted to business purposes only – You will be allowed to drive to and from work and on the job, as well as drive to and from school, church or doctor’s appointments.
Let Meldon Law Help You Fight to Keep Your License
Anything you say in a review of your driver’s license suspension can’t be used against you in your DUI trial, and the outcome of your DUI case doesn’t affect your driver’s license suspension. The two actions proceed separately. If you wish to contest your driver’s license suspension and have grounds to believe you should keep your license, there is no reason not to try. Call Meldon Law for sound advice and professional representation to overturn a Florida driver’s license suspension or get a restricted driving privilege. Remember, you must act quickly, so call now.