If you have been arrested for a DUI in Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend your driver’s license. The length of the suspension depends on the specific circumstances of your case, including whether you have prior DUI arrests, or prior breathalyzer test refusals. However, an experienced DUI defense attorney can help you obtain a temporary hardship license, or even challenge the license suspension altogether.
After being arrested for DUI in Florida, the citation issued by the arresting officer serves as your temporary license for the 10 days following the date it was issued. After the 10 days have passed, you must obtain a temporary driving permit, also known as a “hardship license,” from the DMV if you wish to continue to drive. However, this temporary hardship license can only be used for limited purposes necessary to maintain your livelihood. This includes things like driving to and from work, school, religious services, doctor appointments, and grocery stores.
In order to obtain a hardship license, you must apply for it at the DMV within 10 days of your DUI arrest. You will need to provide proof of enrollment in a DUI school to the DMV when you apply in order to be eligible for the hardship license. Many DUI schools are located right near DMV locations, and enrolling in them online is easy.
When you go to the DMV to apply for a hardship license, you will have the option of requesting a formal review hearing. This hearing allows you to challenge the sufficiency of your DUI arrest with the DMV, and thus the accompanying suspension of your license.
If you choose to request a hearing, your citation continues to serve as a valid driver’s license until such hearing is held. However, if you do not win the review hearing, you will not be able to obtain a hardship license for a period of at least 30 days, known as “hard time”. In some cases, “hard time” may last 90 days, or even as long as one year. During the period of hard time, you may not drive for any reason at all.
If you waive your right to a formal hearing, even though it triggers an automatic suspension of your license, it does make you immediately eligible for a hardship license, provided you have never had your driving privilege revoked for DUI before. All you have to do is provide the DMV proof of enrollment in DUI School.
The decision of whether to request a formal hearing, or to waive it, is likely to depend on the specific circumstances of your individual case. Additionally, it is a decision that you are forced to make quickly after your DUI arrest, and one that may affect your subsequent criminal case in court. Therefore, it is critical that you discuss the details of your arrest with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon after your arrest as possible so that you can formulate a personalized plan of action for your case.