Your Legal Options When Arrested for a DUI in Florida
When you are arrested in Florida driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, you are faced with two choices.
Your first option is to submit to a breathalyzer test, which will measure your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) using a sample of your breath. In Florida, if your test results indicate that your BAC is .08% or above, your license will be suspended for six months.
Your second option is to decline to take the breathalyzer test.
What if I Refuse to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test?
You are not obligated to take the breathalyzer test if a police officer asks you to do so and the police cannot use force to make you do so. However, if you refuse that does not mean you are free of consequences. Under Florida law, your refusal will result in your driver’s license being immediately suspended for one year. If you had been previously arrested for DUI and refused to take the breathalyzer test on that occasion, your license will then be suspended automatically for eighteen months.
What about the 10-day Rule?
Good news: Your license suspension can actually be challenged – if you do so within 10 days from the date of your DUI arrest. Because of this extremely short window, it is important to talk with DUI Attorney Michael Kessler, who has been winning cases like these for decades. He will take whatever legal steps are necessary to help seek a favorable outcome. He may also be able to get you a temporary license for business/health-related driving.
The Formal Review Process
Your challenge is launched by filing for a formal review of the matter. You also have the option of an informal review by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. The latter would entail a review of the materials submitted by the law enforcement officer involved in your arrest, along with any materials submitted by you. Since it is not a formal hearing, there will not be any witness testimony.
The formal review is an administrative law process that calls for a courtroom proceeding you know as a hearing. One will be scheduled within thirty days after your request is received.
During the hearing, the arresting officer and any other officers involved may testify. You will also have an opportunity to present evidence that could show that your license was illegally suspended. At the end of the hearing, the evidence will be reviewed; there will be a determination of whether or not your license suspension should be lifted.
Having an attorney with experience handling DUI cases can help you more easily navigate the legal consequences resulting from your DUI arrest.
Success at the Formal Review Process Stage
Your attorney may be able to get your suspension lifted for a number of different reasons.
First, there must have been probable cause for the traffic stop in the first place. If your attorney can demonstrate probable cause was lacking, that could be another reason to reverse the suspension. Next, you must have been legally stopped and legally arrested. The officer must also have advised you of your rights and the fact that if you refused to take the breathalyzer test, your license would be suspended.
Attorney Kessler’s ability to show an officer’s failure to do any of the above properly can mean that your license privileges will be immediately reinstated.
Losing the Formal Review Hearing
Unfortunately, the formal review hearing may not end favorably for you. If you lose, your license may be suspended for six months or more, depending on whether you submitted to the breathalyzer test at the time of your arrest. If you did take the test and had a result of .08% BAC or above, you will have a six-month suspension. If you refused the test and it was your first DUI arrest, then you will have a one-year suspension. Finally, if you have a previous arrest for a DUI and also declined the breathalyzer test at that time, you’ll be faced with an eighteen-month suspension.
Additionally, your license will immediately go under a “hard suspension” or blackout period. That refers to the period that you cannot drive, before you are eligible for a hardship license or restricted driving permit for the remainder of your suspended license period.
If you had elected to take the breathalyzer test, your hard suspension would last for 30 days. If you elected not to take the test, then your hard suspension will last for 90 days.
Appealing the Formal Review Hearing
Sometimes the hearing officer gets it wrong. You do have the option of appealing the decision sustaining the license suspension. This would require filing a petition for writ of certiorari in the circuit court of the county in which you reside or where the formal (or informal) review was conducted.
Can I Get a Hardship License in Florida After a DUI?
After the 30- or 90-day period of your hard suspension has elapsed, you can apply for a hardship license also known as a restricted driving permit through the Bureau of Administrative Review. Before applying for it, however, you must first register for a Florida-approved DUI course.
A hardship license allows you to drive for the purposes of maintaining your livelihood for the remainder of your license suspension period. This includes driving to and from work and any other necessary work-related driving, along with driving for educational, medical, and church-related purposes.
Beyond the Administrative License Suspension
While the formal review process to get your license suspension lifted may seem extremely important, you should also keep in mind that the criminal proceedings related to your DUI will be an entirely different process. This is why it is important to speak to Attorney Kessler right away before your 10-day clock runs out on challenging your review suspension.
If you have been arrested for DUI, contact Attorney Michael Kessler to discuss your legal options. Time is of the essence! Call us today to ensure that you have thoroughly experienced legal counsel to assist you through this process.