Driver's license suspension for Florida DUI
Florida Driver’s License DUI suspensions
Hardship driver’s license in Florida
In a Florida DUI case, the citation you receive from the officer is your temporary driver’s license. The temporary driver’s license is valid for the 10 days following the date you receive the citation. Before the 10 days are up, you or your DUI lawyer should file for a formal review hearing. For more information about getting a hardship license without requesting the formal review hearing, see my page on Florida DUI driving timeline.
Do I really need a lawyer to represent me?
Yes. If you hire a lawyer before the 10 days are up, and this is your first DUI, the lawyer will be able to get you a temporary driving permit, usually in less than a week. A temporary driving permit allows you to drive for business purposes only. This means that if you get pulled over, you better be driving to or from work, the grocery store, or the doctor. Although you could represent yourself at the formal review hearing, I would recommend hiring a lawyer to represent you. It is possible that someone has been successful at getting his or her license back at the hearing without a lawyer, but I have never seen or heard of anyone. You should hire a lawyer who specializes in criminal cases like DUI cases immediately.
How long will I have my temporary driving permit?
Your permit or, as it is often referred to, business purposes only license is valid usually for 30-45 days.
What happens to my drivers license after the DMV formal review hearing for DUI?
If we win the DMV hearing, you will get your license back. If we lose, your license will be suspended for at least 6 months if you blew over a .08 (the legal limit in Florida). If you refused to blow and this was the first time you have refused, your license will be suspended for a minimum of 12 months. If you have refused to blow before, your license will be suspended for a minimum of 18 months.
It is very important to understand that – unfortunately – most of the time we will lose the DMV hearing. Now I know that is probably not what you wanted to hear, but this is the truth. I have won cases because an officer, who I subpoenaed, did not show for the hearing. This is what I like to call the fog test. If the officers show up, and if you were to put a mirror under their chin – if the mirror would fog up, you lose. I have won DMV hearings when all the officers showed up, but those occasions are rare. Usually, it’s because there was a clear-cut, valid motion to suppress (the stop was bad).
Even if we lose at the formal review hearing with the DMV, it is not all bad news. The great thing about the hearing is that it is like a free deposition. Lawyers use depositions as a discovery tool to gather information. A deposition allows the lawyer to subpoena witnesses to come talk to the lawyer. Everything is recorded and the lawyer gets to ask the witness questions, review all police reports and maintenance information on the breath machine. Basically, the deposition allows the lawyer to uncover any and all weaknesses in the State’s case. This is unique in Florida because you generally are entitled to depositions only in felony cases (a crime punishable by at least a year and a day in prison). The moral is you should hire a lawyer who specializes in criminal cases like DUI immediately to uncover weaknesses in the State’s case against you.
Can I get a hardship license even if we lose the DMV hearing?
The short answer: “Yes – if you are eligible.” You may be eligible for a hardship license if this is your first DUI and you either blew over a .08 or you refused the breath test. If this is your first DUI and you blew over a .08, you can apply for a hardship license after 30 days of hard-time (no driving) after your temporary permit expires. People at the DMV typically call it “hard-time” which just means during that time you can not drive. You are not eligible for a hardship license during the “hard-time” no driving period. You must also enroll in the DUI school, and get a hand written copy of your driving record from the clerk’s office to take to the DMV and pay them $.
If this is your first DUI and you refused the breath test, you can apply for a hardship license after 90 days of hard time (no driving) after your temporary permit expires. You must also enroll in the DUI school and get a hand written copy of your driving record from the clerk’s office to take to the DMV and pay them $. There are two ways a driver’s license can be suspended in a DUI case. First, the DMV can administratively suspend your driver’s license. Second, a driver’s license can be suspended in a criminal case.
Let’s look at the license suspensions in criminal cases.
License suspensions in criminal cases for DUI in Florida:
If you plead guilty or lose at trial, your license will be suspended for the criminal case in addition to any administrative suspension.
Here’s a handy chart for license suspensions in criminal cases:
First DUI conviction Minimum 6 months revocation. Maximum 1 year.
Second DUI conviction within 5 years of first conviction Minimum 5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 1 year
Second DUI conviction outside of 5 years of first conviction
Minimum 6 months revocation. Maximum 1 year.
Third DUI conviction within 10 years of second conviction
Minimum 10 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 2 years.
Third DUI conviction outside of 10 years of second conviction
Minimum 6 months revocation. Maximum 1 year.
Fourth DUI conviction at any time
Mandatory permanent revocation. Hardship reinstatement possible effective October 1, 2010. The issues are complex. You need a lawyer to help you if you are eligible.
Murder with a motor vehicle
Mandatory permanent revocation. No hardship reinstatement.
Mandatory permanent revocation. If you have no prior DUI related convictions, you may be eligible for a hardship reinstatement after 5 years.
Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicle Homicide Convictions:
Minimum 3-year revocation. If you are convicted of DUI Serious Bodily Injury, the revocations are the same for a 2nd within 5 years, 3rd within 10 years, and 4th conviction, depending on your prior convictions.
For more info about DUI or driving under the influence in Florida, you can order my book “Avoiding or Surviving a Florida DUI” on amazon.com.
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