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Tampa DMV Hearing Lawyers

Representation for Florida DHSMV Hearings

Following an arrest, you may request either an informal or a formal hearing with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).

  • An informal hearing is held by one of the officers, who will review all materials presented by the law enforcement and the defendant. There is no need to bring witnesses to this hearing of and no need for the officer to show up. The department is required to send their decision regarding the hearing within 21 days of the expiration of the temporary license.
  • The formal hearing is a more rigorous process. While still held with a department official, it will also include the presentation of witnesses, testimony, and any relevant evidence that may aid in the department in coming to a conclusion. During a formal hearing, it is required that the defendant who requested the hearing to show up in person. Otherwise, their right to a hearing is waived, and their license will be suspended.

Regardless of whether you decide to have a formal or an informal hearing, the DHSMV hearing will not discuss the question your criminal guilt. Instead, it will deal with the arrest process. This will include whether the officer had reason to believe you were under the influence and had probable cause.

Hearings in a Tampa DUI Case

Even if the DHSMV does not decide to suspend your license, you may still lose driving privileges after your criminal trial if you are convicted. The two are independent issues and do not depend on the findings of one another. However, it often takes months for a defendant’s case to go to trial; what the DMV hearing does is allow you to keep your driving privileges while you wait for trial to begin.

The following questions may be asked at your hearing:

  • Did the subject operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher?
  • Did the subject refuse to partake in the blood, breath, or urine test after arrest?
  • Was the subject told that if they refuse, they would have their license suspended?
  • Did the officer have a probable cause to pull over the defendant?

If you were to look at a DUI case as a tree, it would have two main branches from which some other smaller branches would stem. These two branches are the DMV hearing and the criminal case. Working with an attorney who is competent in handling both of these matters is crucial if you would like to reach the best possible outcome of your DUI case.

The experienced legal team at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. has experience winning results at the Florida DHSMV. When you work with our firm, you will have the benefit of our qualified team by your side through every part of both branches of your drunk driving case. We’ve successfully handled more than 7,000 cases, so you can trust us to lead your case to the strongest possible result.

The First Branch: DMV Hearing

While most Tampa drivers are distinctly aware of the fact that a DUI arrest may result in criminal charges, they may have less knowledge about the administrative process initiated by the DHSMV. These proceedings may suspend their driver's license based on a failed or refused breath or blood test. In Florida, a driver has only 10 days from the date of his or her arrest to request a hearing. This hearing is the only opportunity for challenging an administrative license suspension in conjunction with a lawful DUI arrest and refusal or failed test. In addition to scheduling your DMV hearing for you, our firm can represent you at your hearing to fight for your driving privileges. This hearing is similar in format to court proceedings, but it is presided over by a hearing officer who acts as prosecutor and judge. You will have an opportunity to present your side of the story along with evidence. An experienced DUI attorney will help you prepare a strong case to present to the hearing officer.

The Second Branch: Criminal Case

Because driving under the influence is a criminal offense, a person arrested for this crime will face charges in criminal court. A lawyer is vital for this part of a DUI case. You may be offered a plea bargain by the prosecuting attorney. Your lawyer can review this offer to determine whether it is truly in your best interests or if you will be better off fighting your charges. Although the arresting officer may have told you that you failed a breath test and field sobriety tests, there are ways your lawyer can challenge the evidence and the officer's testimony against you. A Tampa DUI attorney can help you during every step of your case, even helping you get released from custody after your arrest.

After more than 7,000 cases handled, Thomas & Paulk can help. We will schedule your hearing for you and represent you with the experience needed for the best possible outcome for your case. It is important to act quickly in these cases, as the failure to schedule the hearing means that you waive your rights to contest your license suspension and get your license reinstated.

If you have been arrested for DUI, you must schedule a meeting with the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles within 10 days of your arrest! Call Thomas & Paulk to preserve your future at (813) 321-7323.

Our Videos

Drunk Driving

Drunk driving cases may or many not require a formal trial. We discuss what most can expect in terms of the process and duration of their DUI case.

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Our Victories

  • All Charges Dropped DUI
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    We were able to file a motion to dismiss the case based on the fact that our client’s right to a speedy trial was violated. The State Attorney agreed that our motion was valid and all charges were dropped.

  • Dropped to Reckless Driving Second DUI
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving DUI, BAC Over 0.15
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  • No Criminal Conviction DUI and Obstructing or Opposing an Officer
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving DUI
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving Second DUI
  • All Charges Dropped DUI
  • Dropped to Reckless Driving DUI

DUI Defense in Florida

At Thomas & Paulk, one of our primary focuses is on the defense of DUI charges. In fact, we are recognized throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier DUI defense law firms. Our team is well-versed in this area of the law and has a wide-expanse of experience in helping our clients fight against such charges.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first offense or your third, you can count on our firm to have the experience to protect your legal rights. Often, our defense starts with recounting with you how the police officer came to stop you in the first place and how he or she came to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol. If the stop was illegal, or the tests were improperly administered, we may be able to argue for the dismissal of that evidence in court, helping your chances of a dropped charge.

The important thing is that you act quickly. Criminal cases involving charges of drinking and driving are serious and they can move fast. You cannot afford to wait or ignore your charges. You need a legal professional on your side who truly understands what you're facing so that they can offer you experience counsel and sound advice. To learn more about how a lawyer like this can assist with your case, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Call our Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk today to schedule an initial consultation. This is a completely free, confidential appointment for you to tell us your side of the story.

  • If you're arrested for DUI, you only have 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing where you can fight to save your license.
  • A blood alcohol reading of 0.15% or more can warrant an aggravated DUI charge with harsher penalties.
  • Each year, Hillsborough County issues around 4,000 DUI citations. Out of these, more than 3,000 are found guilty.
  • Per Florida's zero-tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who tests positive for any measurable blood alcohol can be charged with DUI.