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Tampa Driver's License Suspension Lawyers

Fighting for Your Right to Drive in Florida

One of the most inconvenient DUI penalties is that of license suspension. Several scenarios can lead to the loss of driving privileges. The first is a breath test refusal. Florida has an implied consent law that requires all license holders to submit to blood alcohol content testing when arrested. The first time a driver refuses a physical or chemical test, they will lose their license for a year. A second refusal will cause an 18-month license suspension.

When you are taken into custody for drunk driving, your license will automatically be suspended, but you’ll have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV to challenge the suspension. If you win this hearing, your license will not be suspended. If you are convicted later, however, your license will be suspended regardless of the results of the DMV hearing.

DMV Hearings & License Suspension

How Multiple Offenses Affect License Suspension

First-time offenders may qualify for Hillsborough’s Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) program. If a driver completes this program, they will not have their license suspended because they will never be convicted of a DUI. If a first-time offender qualifies and finishes the RIDR program, their charge is reduced to reckless driving, and they will not be required to inform employers of their DUI arrest.

  • For a second DUI conviction, the length of a license suspension may change depending on how recent the defendant’s first offense was. If the first offense occurred within five years or less, the defendant would be facing a minimum five-year suspension.
  • After a third conviction, the defendant will face a minimum suspension of ten years if it is within a decade of the previous conviction.
  • After a fourth conviction, no matter how long ago a defendant’s last offense was, their license will be permanently revoked.

In serious instances, such as DUI manslaughter, a person’s prior offenses are not considered. If convicted of DUI manslaughter, whether it is a person’s first or fourth offense, the defendant will face a permanent loss of driving privileges. In cases where a person was driving under the influence and caused serious injury or death to another individual, their license suspension will last for at least three years.

What Is the Difference Between License Suspension & Revocation?

There is a difference between having a license suspended and revoked.

  • License suspension means that you temporarily lose your ability to drive for a set period.
  • License revocation is permanent and often occurs after a serious conviction such as vehicular manslaughter.

Commercial License Suspension

Those with commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) who get a DUI face a higher set of standards. A commercial driver cannot have a blood alcohol level of 0.04 percent or greater. After a first conviction, drivers will lose their CDL license for up to a year. If charged with a second DUI, commercial drivers will permanently lose their license and, as a result, their livelihood.

FMCSA Regulations: Alcohol & Drug Testing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is strict on its stance on commercial drivers who operate their vehicles while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Any driver who uses a CDL is subjected to regular testing which may include urine or breath tests. Commercial drivers are prohibited from driving while drinking, while having a BAC over 0.04 percent, or within four hours of drinking.

Tests are required of all drivers at the following times:

  • Following an accident where the driver's behavior was a contributing factor
  • When there is reasonable suspicion by supervisors and company officials for impaired behavior
  • At unannounced times or random intervals
  • After returning to duty from an alcohol-related conviction

Alcohol testing is common for truck drivers. These tests are broken up into two stages. The first is used to identify drivers who are potentially driving while over the legal BAC limit. If the BAC is over 0.02 percent, the driver moves on to the second stage to confirm the results. This must have results that are printed and properly recorded to ensure accuracy. Should it be determined that a driver was under the influence with a BAC over 0.02 percent, they will immediately be removed from any safety-sensitive functions.

Drivers will also be subject to tests that analyze urine for traces of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and PCP. These tests are also broken into a screening and confirmation process. Should the test come back positive, the driver will be interviewed to determine whether it stemmed from the use of a controlled substance without proper authorization (for example, medical marijuana). If so, they will be removed from duty until they go through rehabilitation and a follow-up test comes back negative.

Hardship Licenses in Florida

In some cases, drivers with suspended licenses may be able to apply for a hardship license. A hardship license, or restricted license, is a provisional driver's license that will allow an individual to drive for specific reasons. A driver does not automatically have the right to a hardship license after an arrest or conviction. Instead, a driver must meet certain requirements to qualify for a restricted license. These requirements vary based on the circumstances of the driver’s conviction. Uses for a hardship license include the following:

  • Driving to work
  • Driving to school
  • Going to the doctor
  • Running important errands

Losing your license can have a dramatic impact on various areas of your life. A suspension risks your employment, your ability to get to school, and puts a strain on personal relationships. You may have to rely on friends and family or public transportation to get around. Though your freedom will be limited, a hardship license will help you overcome some transportation issues.

Fighting for Your Right to Drive in Florida

If you have been arrested for DUI, you are also at risk of losing your license in the DMV hearing. For this reason, it is crucial that you get a lawyer who can look after you in both the criminal and civil proceedings. At Thomas & Paulk, P.A., we know what is at stake and will do everything possible to protect your freedom. Call today.

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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 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.

If you would like to learn more about how our team can help, contact us today.

  • 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.