DMV Hearings & License Suspension

Most people assume they can only lose their license if found guilty of DUI. This, however, is not true. Those arrested for drunk driving will also be facing a civil case helped by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Following an arrest, you will have a mere 10 days to act. You need to schedule this DMV hearing within these 10 days; if you don't, your license will be automatically suspended. If, however, you schedule your formal or informal hearing, you will be giving yourself the chance to fight for your driving privileges. During this hearing, they will not be working to determine the question of your guilt. Instead, the hearing will have a more limited scope. Depending on whether you are having a formal or informal hearing, there may or may not be witnesses, testimony, or the presentation of any evidence.

Regardless, the hearings will be limited to asking the following questions:

  • Did you drive with a BAL over 0.08 percent?
  • Did you refuse the chemical or physical tests?
  • Were you told that refusal could lead to license suspension?

It is important to keep in mind that the DHSMV hearing is completely separate from the criminal case. So the DHSMV may choose to suspend your license, but the criminal case may find you guilty; since they are independent, you being found innocent in criminal court may not affect your previous license suspension. That being said, the DHSMV could choose to not suspend your license; if the criminal court finds you guilty, you could still have your license suspended. It is therefore extremely important that you have a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side during both procedures to fight for your rights.

Regarding Hardship Licenses

If you have had your license suspended, there are some circumstances where you may be eligible for a "hardship license." These basically allow for the individual to drive, however, with a much more limited scope. Someone who is given this type of limited license will be able to drive to and from school and work, as well as errands which are deemed necessary. They may not, however, drive anywhere for pleasure or for entertainment. These types of licenses are available to certain individuals after a certain amount of time has passed.

These are the qualifications that must be met to apply for a hardship license:

  • Second DUI Conviction - May apply after a year
  • Third DUI Conviction - May apply after two years
  • DUI Manslaughter Conviction - May apply after five years
  • Fourth DUI Conviction - May never apply for a hardship license

It is also important to note that there is a distinct difference between license suspension and revocation. When your license has been suspended, it will only be temporarily - eventually, you will have it returned to you. Should your license be revoked, it will be permanent.

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.

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Have You Been Charged with a 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 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.

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