In the State of Florida, when someone is arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), he or she will need to handle two separate legal matters. The first legal matter involves the suspension of the accused's driver's license. The second legal matter concerns the criminal trial.  

According to Florida DUI Law, if a driver has been arrested for "blowing over the legal limit" or refuses to submit to a breath test, the alleged drunk driver will receive an automatic suspension of their driver's license. The suspension of driving privileges takes effect the moment the driver is placed under arrest. However, it is possible to apply for a DMV hearing and fight the driver's license suspension as long as the driver applies within ten days of his or her DUI arrest.  

What Is a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Hearing?

When someone has been arrested and charged with a DUI offense in the State of Florida, the driver may try to reinstate their driving privileges. However, certain actions must be taken within ten days of the DUI arrest. The first step is to submit a request for a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) hearing. An administrative license hearing is a crucial step toward reinstating your driving privileges pending the outcome of your criminal DUI case.

Requesting an Administrative License Hearing in Florida

When an individual is charged with a crime, including DUI, he or she must obtain qualified legal advice as quickly as possible to avoid missing important legal deadlines. The administrative license hearing gives defendants the opportunity to present a case as to why the defendant should be able to keep their driver's license. The hearing allows your attorney to present your case in the most compelling and effective way to help persuade a ruling in the defendant's favor. The hearing also helps the defendant's attorney gather important details and information that may be used later in the criminal trial. Unfortunately, you may not use a public defender in an administrative license hearing in Florida.  

At the hearing, the defendant's attorney will take advantage of the hearing to obtain critical facts, review critical evidence, and question the arresting officer. The defense attorney will want to know things such as: 

  • Why did the law enforcement officer stop the defendant?
  • Were those reasons legal, justified, and legitimate?
  • Did the police officer have a legitimate reason to stop your vehicle?
  • Was the defendant in "actual physical control" of the vehicle?
  • What gave the officer reason to believe the defendant was impaired?
  • What exactly did the officer see, hear, or smell that lead the officer to conclude the defendant was impaired? 
  • Was the defendant's Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level truly over the limit?
  • Did the defendant submit to field sobriety test?
  • What were those tests? 
  • How were those tests administered?
  • How was the chemical testing administered?

The defense attorney will also try to ascertain whether the defendant was legally arrested for DUI or if the arrest was unlawful. This administrative license hearing allows the defense attorney to aggressively cross-examination the officer and any other witnesses for the prosecution. This is very helpful in preparing a criminal defense strategy for the pending DUI criminal trial.  

If the deadline for requesting a formal administrative license hearing has passed, the defendant may submit a request for an informal hearing. However, these hearings are limited, and there is no benefit of driver testimony, witness testimony, or the ability to submit important evidence. This is one of the many reasons why it is beneficial to speak with an experienced Florida DUI Defense Attorney as soon as possible.  

If the defendant prevails in his or her formal or informal DMV hearing, the defendant will retain their driver's license pending the outcome of his or her DUI criminal trial.  

If the defendant loses his or her formal or informal DMV hearing, the defendant will be subjected to one or more of the following mandatory penalties:

 - 30- or 90-day driver's license suspension.
 - and depending on the facts and circumstances of the DUI case, the defendant could receive an additional 12- or 18-month driver's license suspension.

However, if your driver's license has been suspended, it is possible to apply for a Florida hardship license. A hardship license will permit the defendant to drive to specified places such as work, medical appointments, school, and a few other critical places. The hearing officer will make the determination which places the defendant may drive to if the defendant's application for a hardship license has been approved.

Failing to Appear at the DMV Administrative License Hearing

In the event that the defendant fails to appear at his or her administrative license hearing, the defendant will lose their right to a formal hearing. But the defendant may still apply for an informal review.  

How to Apply for an Instant Hardship License in Florida

It is permissible to waive the administrative license hearing in the State of Florida and apply for a hardship license. In order to do so, the defendant is required to register for an approved DUI Level 1 school. Then the defendant must appear, in person, at the DMV and request an administrative license hearing waiver. The deadline for filing a signed administrative license hearing waiver is within ten days of the DUI arrest.

The additional benefits of retaining a private Florida DUI Attorney to represent you is that the attorney can appear on behalf of the driver, and the defense attorney can change the date of a formal review and request an informal review should scheduling conflicts happen.

At Musca Law, our Florida DUI attorneys have years of experience successfully handling criminal hearings and DUI formal administrative review hearings to help our clients keep their driving privileges and save their reputation. We are certified in Breathalyzer Operation and can pinpoint mistakes in that area to help defend your rights. Do not hesitate to call our office at 1-888-484-5057 to schedule a free, no-obligation, and confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.