For many individuals, their biggest concern is not jail time or fines, but rather their ability to lawfully drive a vehicle. For most of us, our very livelihood depends on our ability to drive. A driver’s license can be placed in jeopardy by either 1) a court order or 2) an administrative order of suspension. It is very important to understand that these are two separate and distinct methods which could cause a license suspension or revocation.
DUI Suspension/ Revocation
Many times a driver’s license suspension is associated with a DUI charge. An important concept to understand at the outset of a DUI case is the administrative license suspension - and the fact that administrative suspension is totally separate from the possible license suspension in the court case.
If you are alleged to have refused a breath or urine test or blown over a .08 then you face both an administrative license suspension as well as a court ordered suspension. If the officer confiscated your driver’s license under these circumstances, then he has initiated an administrative suspension of your driver’s license. When you go to court on the DUI case, the judge may also be required to enter a license suspension.
Once an officer confiscates a person’s license he has effectively administratively suspended the license. Because we enjoy a constitutional right to Due Process in our country, the driver may challenge this license suspension by demanding from the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) an “administrative review” of this license suspension. Certain aspects of the case may be challenged. If the driver prevails, the driver’s license will be returned. Since the administrative license suspension and hearing are totally separate from the DUI court case, a driver could lose the administrative review and still win the DUI case, and vice-versa.
Florida Driver’s Licenses are issued and regulated by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), Division of Driver’s License, Bureau of Administrative Reviews. This State agency falls under the umbrella of the Florida Highway Patrol. This agency also employs non-lawyer Hearing Officers to serve as “judges” and to decide all the legal and factual issues regarding the administrative suspensions of driver’s licenses. Therefore, we have a system wherein one local law enforcement agency initiates a license suspension which must be challenged to another law enforcement agency - the FHP. The Hearing Officer’s decision can be appealed to the Circuit Court.
Hard-Time Suspension Periods - First Time DUI Suspects
There is a period of time wherein some first time DUI suspects will not be permitted to drive under any circumstances. This no driving period is referred to as the “hard-time” suspension. If a person offers a breath sample over .08 and loses or does not challenge the administrative suspension of the license, then he will have a thirty (30) day hard-time period of no driving. After the 30 days, even though his license is still suspended, he may apply and will usually receive a business/ hardship restricted driving permit from DHSMV. If the person refused to provide a breath or urine sample, and loses or does not challenge the administrative suspension, then the hard time period goes up to 90 days. After the hard time period, drivers will be required to show proof of DUI school enrollment as well as a 30-day traffic search obtained from the Hillsborough County Traffic Clerk of Court and must apply in person for a hardship business permit.
Court Ordered Suspension
This type of suspension must be issued in open court by a Judge. There are many categories of court ordered suspensions. Below are just a few examples.
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