DUI Driver’s License Suspension & the Formal Review Hearing: Information from Clearwater DUI Attorney Charles Holloway, P.A.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Clearwater, Tampa, St Petersburg, Pasco County, or anywhere else in the state of Florida, law enforcement may have suspended and taken your license. This confiscation and suspension occurs in those cases where the driver either submitted to a breath test and the results were .08% or higher, or the driver refused to submit to the test. In either case, confiscation and suspension are the result. This is referred to as an “Administrative Suspension” as it is the result of statutory action taken under the authority of the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV or simply DMV).

Anyone who has lost their license is typically anxious to know how long the suspension will last, as well as ways to get the license back. The following is some important information from Clearwater and Tampa Bay DUI attorney Charles Holloway, P.A. about a DUI drivers license suspension.

Length of Suspension

(1) 1st DUI

(a) Test Results .08% or more = suspension for 180 days
(b) Refusal of test = suspension for 1 year

(2) 2nd DUI

(a) Test Results .08% or more and results of .08% or more in prior DUI = suspension for 1 year
(b) Refusal of test and refusal of test in prior DUI = suspension for 18 months

Note: It is also a crime to refuse to take a breath test in a second DUI, if the driver also refused the test in the prior case. This misdemeanor crime is punishable by a maximum penalty of 1 year incarceration, 1 year probation, and $1,000 in fines.

Temporary Driving

If your license is administratively suspended as a result of the breath test or a refusal, you are permitted to drive for a period of ten days. This 10-day period begins with the day of your arrest. You must have the DUI ticket in your possession to drive legally during this period. Whether you can continue to drive after the 10 days are up, depends on the decisions you make during this same 10 day period.

If you take no action during these first 10 days, the following will result:

(1) Test Results .08% or more: after the 10 day driving privilege, your license will be suspended for a period of 30 days. You will not be able to drive for any reason during this period. After the 30 day period is complete, you could then be eligible for a “hardship” license.

(2) Refusal of test: after the 10 day driving privilege, your license will be suspended for a period of 90 days. You will not be able to drive for any reason during this period. After the 90 day period is complete, you could then be eligible for a “hardship” license.

Formal Review Hearing

You have the right to fight back if your license has been confiscated and subject to administrative suspension. This right is secured by the Formal Review Hearing. This hearing is conducted by an employee of the DMV who has been trained to act as a hearing officer. The hearing officer decides whether the evidence supports the continued administrative suspension of your license, or whether the evidence is insufficient to support suspension, and your license should be reinstated without restriction. The hearing process applies rules of administrative law, which utilizes civil law, not criminal law. Therefore, the outcome of the Formal Review Hearing has no effect on the outcome of the DUI case in the criminal court system. It does affect your ability to drive in the short-term, and your ability to drive without restriction in the long-term.

In order to secure your right to a Formal Review Hearing, you have to make a request in writing within 10 calendar days, from the day of your arrest. A DUI attorney can make this request for you, often gaining access to the DMV process that is not available to the client. A hearing is required to be scheduled within 30 days of the request. Once a request is made, you have the ability to receive a temporary driving permit from the DMV. This permit will allow you to drive for a period of time that exceeds the date of the hearing.

The hearing itself involves the review of documents submitted by law enforcement, and can include the testimony of law enforcement witnesses. You have the right to attend the hearing and testify, if you wish. However, attendance and testimony can be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and subject you to additional scrutiny that may actually work to your disadvantage. Therefore, a DUI attorney usually chooses to conduct the hearing without the presence or participation of the client.

If you win the hearing, your license will be returned to you, without restriction. If you lose, your license will continue to be suspended for the remainder of the applicable period (i.e. 6 months, 12 months, or 18 months). In addition, a loss will also subject you to the same 30 or 90 day no-driving suspension period which would have taken effect had you not requested the hearing.

Note: Even if you lose the hearing, you will have gained at least 4 weeks of temporary driving that you would not have enjoyed if you had not requested the hearing. This temporary permit can provide you with the time needed to make arrangements for other transportation when the 30 or 90 day no-driving suspension takes effect.

The Attorney’s Role

A DUI attorney can provide you with the following assistance, should you decide to challenge your suspension through the Formal Review Hearing:

(1) File the written request necessary to secure the hearing with the DMV.

(2) Help you obtain your temporary driving permit.

(3) Obtain and review the documents filed by law enforcement that will be used at the hearing.

(4) Subpoena any law enforcement officers and require them to attend the hearing where they can be subjected to cross-examination.

(5) Attend the hearing and argue for the dismissal of the suspension and the reinstatement of your regular license.

Note: Testimony at the Formal Review Hearing is digitally recorded and can be transcribed for later use in the criminal court. This transcript may be useful in a motion to suppress evidence and/or at a trial by jury. In other words, the hearing may produce testimony that can impact and improve the defense of your case in the criminal court system.

DUI attorney Charles Holloway, P.A., serving Clearwater, Tampa, St Petersburg, and the greater Tampa Bay area, can advise you of your rights if you experience a DUI drivers license suspension. Attorney Holloway can also assist you with the Formal Review Hearing.

To schedule a free initial consultation with DUI attorney Chuck Holloway at his office in Clearwater, please call (727) 446-8303 or e-mail info@pinellasdefense.com.

Phone: (727) 446-8303
E-Mail: Info@PinellasDefense.com