In Florida, a DUI arrest alone—even if you are not convicted in criminal court—is enough to cause the suspension of your driver’s license.
In fact, a DUI arrest triggers the administrative suspension of your license by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). You have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing to challenge this suspension. If you do not ask for a hearing, your driver’s license will be suspended—regardless of the outcome of your criminal DUI case.
If you were pulled over and arrested for DUI, you will be able to continue driving with a temporary license, which is only valid for 10 days. You’ll need to request your hearing before this 10-day period is up, and at this point your hearing must be held within 21 days of the date that your temporary license expires.
To keep your license, you’ll need to attack your DUI case from two angles: at your hearing and in criminal court. These are independent proceedings, and either may result in the suspension of your license.
License Suspension After a DHSMV Hearing
The DHSMV will hold a hearing to determine whether you:
- Were driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater; or
- Refused to take a breath, blood, or urine test after your arrest.
If either of these is found to be true, your license may be suspended.
Fortunately, there are valid defenses to license suspension, and a lawyer who has experience with these can argue that you were unlawfully stopped, that you were not informed of the consequences of refusing a breath or blood test, or that your BAC was actually below the legal limit. The right strategy and an aggressive approach can make all the difference in these cases.
Applying for a Hardship License
Even if your license is suspended by the DHSMV after the hearing or because you did not request a hearing in time, you may be able to apply for a hardship license. This type of license grants limited driving privileges, such as driving to and from work, school, medical appointments, and church.
To obtain a hardship license in Florida, you’ll need to:
- Enroll in DUI school
- Bring proof of enrollment to your local DHSMV Administrative Review Office
- Attend a hearing at the DHSMV office
The DHSMV will have the power to grant or deny a hardship license and may impose specific restrictions, depending on your unique situation. If your application is approved, you will then need to go to your local DMV office to get your license.
Who Is Not Eligible for a Hardship License?
Not everyone is eligible for a hardship license in Florida. This includes commercial drivers, drivers with prior DUI convictions or breath test refusals, and drivers accused of DUI causing injury or death.
License Suspension from a DUI Conviction
We must note that, even if you win your hearing and your license is not suspended in the first place, a criminal DUI conviction may result in the loss of your license. That’s why it is so important to choose a seasoned criminal defense team to protect your interests.
At Thomas & Paulk, our attorneys have handled over 7,000 criminal cases. This extensive experience gives us a level of insight that most firms simply don’t have. We know how to approach DMV hearings and criminal DUI charges simultaneously, helping our clients keep their licenses.
The ability to drive is not just convenient, it’s essential for most people. Our Tampa DUI lawyers are prepared to fight for your driver’s license. To find out more, give us a call at (813) 321-7323.