Florida DUI and Administrative Suspension
It is a crime to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. If convicted, you could spend time in jail, be fined a sum of money, and have your vehicle impounded. Florida can also revoke your license.
But there is also an administrative side to DUI in Florida that many people are unaware of, which includes an “administrative suspension” of your license. An administrative suspension happens automatically after your arrest and does not depend on being convicted of the crime.
What is Administrative Suspension?
Police have the right under Florida law to stop anyone they suspect of driving under the influence and ask them to take a breath test. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the limit, the officer will confiscate your license. The limit is 0.08 or higher for someone 21 and older, and 0.02 or higher for a driver under the age of 21. The officer will issue you a driver’s permit that is good for only 10 days.
Your suspension will last for the following length of time:
- If this is your first suspension, then you lose your license for 6 months.
- If this is your second suspension, then you lose your license for one year.
Florida law also suspends your license if you refuse to take the breath test:
- If this is your first refusal, your license is suspended for a year.
- If this is your second refusal, then your license is suspended for 18 months.
Florida takes DUI so seriously that they will not wait around for a conviction in court to strip you of your ability to drive. This is why we have administrative suspension.
What is a Formal Review Hearing?
You can contest your administrative suspension. Since your permit is good for only 10 days, you need to schedule a hearing quickly. You should hire a DUI attorney who can request a formal hearing where the police officer who cited you for DUI will have to come in and testify.
At these hearings, you can also present evidence on your behalf. For example, the dash cam video might contradict the officer’s testimony. You might also be able to explain that your high BAC is due to something other than alcohol.
This administrative hearing is independent of your criminal trial. This also means that the administrative suspension is independent of having your license revoked after being convicted of DUI. It is possible to have your license administratively suspended and then be acquitted of DUI in court.
Why is Requesting a Formal Review Important?
Driving without a license is a crime, which only compounds the problem of getting arrested for DUI in the first place. If you want to drive after a DUI arrest, you need a formal hearing.
Some people win their administrative hearing. For example, if the officer does not respond to a subpoena to testify, you can have your suspension invalidated. Also, you might be able to get a special license that allows you to drive to work or school as you wait for your administrative hearing.