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Update on DUI Policy in Florida

As of July 1, 2013, there have been important changes made in regard to your ability to retain your driving privileges after an arrest for DUI in Florida.  Prior to July 1, 2013, a person arrested for DUI could continue to drive, albeit in a restricted manner, for 10 days following the arrest. During this brief ten day timeframe, the driver (usually through his/her attorney) could also petition the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to conduct a review hearing to determine (a) if the officer had probable cause to stop the driver for DUI, and (b) to confirm that if there was a refusal to perform the breath test that it was a valid refusal based upon law enforcement’s compliance with the requirements of implied consent. While the outcomes of these hearings have no bearing on the criminal case for DUI, they do have a significant effect on one’s driving privileges.

Should the driver “win” at the DHSMV hearing, he or she retains the privilege to drive throughout the criminal prosecution.  The criminal case can often take several months to reach a resolution, therefore, maintaining the ability to drive during that time is obviously very beneficial. Furthermore, in some cases the DUI charge may be reduced or amended to a charge carrying no driver’s license suspension.  If there was no DHSMV suspension a driver could maintain his privilege to drive with no gaps or interruptions.

Should the driver “lose” the hearing, his or her license will be suspended for one year for a first time DUI or Refusal, and 18 months if the person had a prior DUI or Refusal.  A first time DUI suspension from the DHSMV imposes a 30 day “dead” period where no driving is allowed. This means no hardship license or work permit of any kind is allowed for 30 days.  A Refusal results in a 90 day “dead” period.  After the dead period and with proof of enrollment in DUI School, the driver can petition the DHSMV for a restricted or work permit which will remain in effect until the 12 or 18 month period ends. These suspensions are imposed by the DHSMV and remain in effect regardless of the outcome of the criminal case.

The new changes to the Florida DUI Law and Statutes provide for a different alternative. Now if a driver has never had a previous DUI or refusal, they can, within the ten day window, opt out of the DHSMV hearing, enroll in DUI School, show proof of that enrollment to the DHSMV, and be IMMEDIATELY eligible for a hardship license. This option removes the possibility of contesting the stop or the refusal at the DHSMV hearing but gives the driver a guaranteed ability to continue to drive, albeit in a limited capacity. This option is extremely time sensitive and the window of opportunity closes after the ten days run. This is yet another reason why it is critically important that you seek the advice of qualified counsel AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after being accused of a DUI. We have here at the Hogan Law Firm five former prosecutors with the experience and advocacy skills to zealously represent those drivers accused of driving under the influence, so please consider contacting our firm should you or a loved one have need of our services. Remember, at the Hogan Law Firm “WE MEAN BUSINESS”.