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Is Your License Suspended Immediately After a DUI in Florida?

Imagine you're driving home from a friend's beachside barbecue in sunny Florida. The sky is tinted with the beautiful hues of the setting sun, and the roads are relatively clear — a perfect end to the evening. But, after misjudging a stop sign because of a few cocktails, you see the flashing lights of a police cruiser in your rearview mirror. Before you know it, you find yourself with a DUI charge and your mind races with questions about the future of your driving privileges. 

People often come to us overwhelmed, unsure of what happens next, especially concerning their ability to drive after a DUI. In this blog post, a Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer explains how a DUI in Florida quickly changes your relationship with your driver's license as he answers the question, “is your license suspended immediately after a DUI in Florida?”

Understanding Florida's DUI Laws

In Florida, as in all states, operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is a serious offense. Legally, drivers are considered under the influence if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. But what happens to your driver’s license if you’re charged with such an offense? The short answer: your driving privileges are at risk.

License Suspension After a Florida DUI: What You Need to Know

Upon arrest for a DUI in Florida, expect an immediate administrative suspension of your driver's license, followed by the possibility of a significantly longer suspension. 

The 10-Day Grace Period

The immediate loss of your driving privileges can make essential tasks like driving to work, school, or medical appointments seem impossible. However, did you know your DUI citation itself acts as a temporary 10-day permit if you meet the eligibility criteria? Understandably, this temporary option isn't available to everyone. 

Drivers exceeding a specific BAC limit, those with minors present during the arrest, or individuals with previous DUI convictions may not qualify. If eligible, the officer will mark the "eligible for permit" box on your citation. This box must be checked “yes” for you to lawfully drive. This allows driving only for essential activities like work, school, and medical appointments. 

Administrative Hearing

Within 10 days of your arrest, you can request a Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Administrative Hearing to challenge your license suspension while your DUI criminal case is pending in court. You have the following options:

  • Informal Review: This quicker, paper-based option involves submitting evidence and written arguments for the hearing officer to consider. While witnesses and cross-examination aren't allowed, it can be suitable for specific cases.
  • Formal Review Hearing: This is a more courtroom-like setting where you can present evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine the state's case. It requires stricter timelines and preparation, but offers more control over your defense.

Purpose of the Hearing

The aim of this hearing is not to assess guilt in relation to the DUI charge but to examine if there was a valid legal basis for the license suspension. This includes reviewing:

  • Whether your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was over the legal limit of 0.08%
  • The legitimacy of the stop of your vehicle
  • The presence of probable cause for your arrest
  • Your compliance or refusal of sobriety tests
  • Adequate warning given about the consequences of refusing tests

This hearing will determine if the license is fully suspended, partially suspended, or reinstated, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Outcome of the Hearing

The outcome of your administrative hearing will determine if your license is fully suspended, partially suspended, or reinstated, depending on the circumstances of your case. If there is insufficient evidence, the suspension will be overturned. This means you would be able to keep your license. However, if you do not win your administrative hearing review the consequences can include the following:

  • 30-Day Suspension: This imposes a complete driving ban for one month, potentially impacting work, family, and daily life.
  • 90-Day Hard Suspension: Even stricter, prohibiting driving under any circumstances, including emergencies.
  • 12-Month or 18-Month Suspensions: Depending on the case, longer suspensions can significantly disrupt employment, education, and everyday routines.

Hardship License

Even with a suspended license, a hardship license may offer some relief. These restricted permits allow driving for essential activities like work, school, or medical appointments. However, qualifying requires demonstrating genuine need and meeting specific criteria.

Remember, this administrative hearing remains separate from your criminal DUI case. While success in one doesn't guarantee the other, the outcome significantly impacts your driving privileges. Don't underestimate its importance.

The Criminal Case

Simultaneously with the administrative process, you must also navigate the criminal case against you. This involves attending court hearings, potentially facing jail time or other penalties, and dealing with the long-term effects of having a criminal record. It's important to note that even if the administrative hearing results in a successful appeal of your license suspension, the criminal case can still result in a conviction and further consequences.

Penalties for a First-Time DUI Offense

For a first-time DUI offense in Florida, penalties may include:

  • Up to six months of probation
  • Fines ranging from $500 to $1,000
  • Driver's license suspension for up to one year
  • Up to six months in jail (depending on the circumstances)
  • Completion of a DUI program and/or community service
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle

Aggravating Factors

Certain factors can aggravate a DUI charge in Florida, leading to increased penalties. These factors include:

  • A BAC of 0.15% or higher
  • Having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense
  • Causing property damage or injury while driving under the influence

Repercussions for Repeat Offenders

Repeat DUI offenses have significantly harsher penalties in Florida, including longer license suspensions, mandatory IID installation, and potential felony charges. Additionally, if a driver has had three or more DUI convictions within 10 years, their vehicle may be impounded.

Seek Legal Representation

Given the immediate and long-term consequences of a DUI in Florida, it's crucial to seek legal representation as soon as possible. An experienced suspended license lawyer can help navigate both the administrative and criminal processes, potentially reducing or even dismissing charges. 

Your attorney can also provide guidance on the steps needed to reinstate your license once any suspension period is served. It's essential to act quickly and diligently in these situations, as the longer you wait, the more challenging it can be to defend your case. 

Take Immediate Action if Your License Has Been Suspended After DUI 

Facing a DUI charge and license suspension in Florida? Don't wait! You only have a 10-day window to contest the suspension. Understanding the immediate license suspension, penalties, and reinstatement process for DUI in Florida is crucial.

Remember, acting swiftly and seeking legal advice are vital steps. This blog provided an overview, but each case is unique. Contact Law Offices of R. David Williams today for a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer with over 25 years experience. Let us answer your questions, assess your situation, and guide you through the legal process with confidence. 

Don't navigate this challenging situation alone – protect your driving privileges and your future. Call us at (954) 522-9997 or fill out our online form to speak with a Broward criminal lawyer. Let us advocate for you during this critical time.

Copyright © 2024. Law Offices of R. David Williams, P.A. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (post) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Law Offices of R. David Williams, P.A.
15 Southwest 10th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
(954) 522-9997
https://dwilliamslaw.com/

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