The State of Florida views your driving privilege as just that, a privilege, not a right. When you accept the privilege to drive, you also agree to submit to any chemical tests required by law. Take a look at the fine print at the bottom of your drivers license. There it is. The piece of plastic that acts as your license to drive is not your privilege to drive, the privilege is suspended, not the piece of plastic that the officer takes when he places you under arrest.
In the event you refuse to take a test required by law, the State of Florida can administratively suspend your license. In addition to a refusal, if your breath test result is above the legal limit of .08, the State can administratively suspend your license as well. Administrative suspensions are separate and apart from any criminal consequences for the DUI case. You must take action within 10 days of your arrest if you wish to fight to keep your privilege to drive.
Your DUI Ticket as a license
For the 10 days following an administrative suspension of your driving privilege, your DUI citation acts as your license to drive. Upon the expiration of that 10 day period, you may not drive for any reason until another permit is obtained or your privilege to drive is reinstated.
Suspension for Blood Alcohol Level Above .08
For a first time DUI, a breath test above a .08 will result in an administrative suspension of 6 months. The 6 months begins on the date of the arrest/breath test. A second DUI with a breath test above a .08 will result in a 12 month suspension. If the second breath test results are provided within 5 years of a previous DUI conviction, the suspension is 18 months.
Suspension for Refusal of Testing
For a first time DUI, a refusal of the breath, urine or blood test will result in a suspension of 12 months. For a second refusal, the suspension period is extended to 18 months. In the instance of a second refusal, the result of the first case or the second case where you refused does not matter.
Formal Review of your suspension
Within the 10 days following your arrest, an application for a Formal Review Hearing must be submitted to preserve your right to challenge the suspension of your driving privilege. This is an important part of our representation of our clients. We will file the paperwork on your behalf and have a Formal Review Hearing scheduled to challenge your suspension.
If the suspension is overturned, your driving privilege is reinstated. If it is not overturned, at the expiration of your temporary driving permit/BPO, you will begin a period of “hard time” during which you cannot drive for any reason. If you are suspended for a breath test above a .08, that period of “hard time” is 30 days. If you are suspended for a refusal, the “hard time” period is 90 days. If you are suspended for a second refusal or a second breath test above a .08, your hard time period is the remainder of the 18 month suspension, and you are not eligible for any additional temporary driving permits or BPO’s after your initial permit.
Temporary Driving Permit/BPO
While that hearing is pending, a temporary driving permit will be issued so that you can continue to drive for business purposes. A Business Purpose Only license (BPO) enables a driver to continue to drive for work, school, religious observation and medical treatment. Essentially, the things to sustain life. This does not include anything “fun”. An additional criminal charge can result if you are caught driving for any non-business purpose and you will face jail time if you are convicted. As described above, if the suspension is sustained, you will begin a period of “hard time” at the expiration of your initial temporary driving permit. If you are eligible to do so, you can obtain an additional temporary driving permit once the “hard time” has expired. You must petition the Bureau of Administrative Reviews and sign up for DUI school in order to be eligible for the additional temporary driving permit. The additional temporary driving permit will last until either the administrative suspension expires or until you are suspended by the court as part of a DUI sentence. If the court suspends your driving privilege as part of a DUI sentence, you may obtain another temporary driving permit if you have completed DUI school and are otherwise eligible.
Waiver of the Formal Review Hearing and Immediate Eligibility for a Business Purpose Only License for First Time DUI
A driver facing a first suspension for a breath test over .08 or for refusing to take the breath test can waive their right to a formal review of their suspension in exchange for a obtaining Business Purposes Only license with no “hard time”. “Hard time” refers to the time during which a driver cannot drive for any reason as a result of the administrative suspension of their license (30 days for a breath test above .08 and 90 days for a refusal of the breath test). To be eligible for the waiver of the formal review hearing and business purposes only license without “hard time”, the driver must sign up for DUI School and provide proof of their enrollment to the DHSMV at the time the driver applies for the waiver. Additionally, the driver cannot have any prior DUI conviction or a prior suspension of their license for DUI.
Out of State Drivers Licenses
If you are a visitor to the State of Florida and are charged with a DUI, your right to a business purpose license is limited. An out of state license holder will not be eligible for a hardship license if the administrative suspension from the DHSMV is sustained. This makes the challenge to an administrative suspension for a person with a license from another state that much more important. Today, most states participate in the National Driver’s Registry and a suspension while on vacation in Florida for DUI will likely follow you home. The only place to challenge your suspension will be Florida and you need an experienced DUI attorney on your side to do everything possible to save your driving privilege. Call our office today to find out how we can help. For a free consultation call 941-365-7171.