You have 10 days after a DUI arrest to contest the suspension of your driver license. The DUI citation itself acts as a 10-day driver license that expires on midnight of the 10th day. After that, you can apply for a hardship license to drive for business purposes only: "any driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church and for medical purposes." (Fla. Stat. 322.271 (1)(c)(1)).
Within those 10 days, you have some important decisions to make and you should consult with a lawyer. If you do not submit a request for hearing as your citation instructs, you will not have any driving privileges after that 10 days expires. You have those 10 days to decide whether to either (1) waive your right to an administrative review hearing and take a business-purpose only driver license or (2) request a formal administrative review hearing. However, you can only get that immediate business-purpose only license if you qualify for it. Drivers who do not qualify for it might opt for a formal administrative review hearing.
To Get an Immediate Hardship Driver License (Business purposes only)
To opt for the immediate business-purposes only driver license, you need to complete the Request for Eligibility Review form. The form looks like this and you can download it by clicking on this image:
In Palm Beach County, you must send the form to the Lauderdale Lakes office by email at [email protected] because there is no longer an office in our county. Once the form is received, the office will contact you to make the $25.00 payment for the application. Then you will receive another call for brief hearing will be held over the phone.
Answer all incoming calls while you await your hearing call.
You will not be told when this call for your hearing will take place. The call may come from area code 954, 850, 407, or another area code. The Bureau of Administrative Affairs can be overwhelmed with these hearings and the calls do not always come from Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. Don't ignore calls from anywhere in Florida while you are waiting for your hardship license hearing.
During the hearing by phone to determine your eligibility for a hardship license, the hearing officer will:
(1) Ask whether you signed the Request for Eligibility Review Form.
(2) Confirm that you understand you are waiving a formal administrative review hearing regarding your license suspension if you accept the business purposes license.
(3) Inform you that the license is for business purposes only and that it expires on a certain date (6 months from the date of suspension for blowing over .08 and 12 months from the date of suspension for refusing to blow).
(4) Inform you that if you are convicted of DUI in your criminal case, the hardship license is no longer valid.
(5) Ask you whether you have any alcohol-related offenses in a state other than Florida. (The hearing officer will look at your FL driving record as well; if you have any prior offense, you will not be eligible for the hardship license.
(6) Request proof that you have enrolled in DUI school (not just paid for it).
If you are granted the hardship license, you can drive for business purposes only for that 6 or 12 months (depending on whether you gave a breath sample or not). After that period, you have a full, unrestricted driver license. That is, unless and until you are convicted of DUI. In that case, you have another driver license suspension to deal with.
Administrative Review Hearings
Formal Vs. Informal
By submitting a hearing request, you are asking for an administrative review hearing at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. You can request either a formal or informal review hearing. The informal review hearing does not allow the driver to present anything or question any witnesses. The hearing officer would just review the information provided by the police department that led to the arrest.
On the other hand, a formal review hearing is a full hearing with witnesses and evidence that allows the driver to challenge the suspension in a more meaningful way. Requesting either type of hearing waives the right an immediate hardship license. I do not see the benefit of an informal review hearing.
Applying for the Hearing
To apply for the hearing, you must complete this form and you can download it by clicking on this image.
You will get a temporary 42-day business purpose-only driver license that is intended to permit you to drive until the time of your administrative review hearing.
If you ask for more time to prepare for your hearing, your 42-day temporary business-purpose license will not be extended until your hearing date. \
Preparing for the Administrative Review Hearing
These hearings take place in an office with a hearing officer listening to the testimony of the police officers involved in the case. You have to subpoena the police officers involved in your case. Otherwise, the hearing officer can rely only the the probable cause affidavit written by the arresting officer and any other materials submitted by the police.
You should bring a lawyer to this hearing for several reasons. Someone will need to pose questions to the witnesses and you would not want that to be you. Anything you say in your administrative review hearing can be used against you in your criminal case. Ideally, you say nothing in the administrative review hearing. You would not even be needed in the room for it at all because you should send your attorney to the hearing. Also, a non-lawyer would have trouble raising the necessary legal issues and properly questioning the witnesses.
Issuing subpoenas are important in an administrative review hearing. While it is somewhat unlikely that a witness will fail to appear while under subpoena, this does happen and it can benefit you. If the arresting officer or breath technician fail to appear at the hearing, your driver license suspension will be invalidated. (Fla. Stat. 322.2615(11)). This means you will have your full driving privileges back, at least while your DUI case is pending in the trial court.
Challenging Your Suspension at the Hearing
There are a few issues that can be challenged at an administrative review hearing to convince the hearing officer that your driver license was improperly suspended.
For example, if the arresting police officer lacked probable cause for DUI when making the arrest, this would invalidate the license suspension. Another example is, in the case of a breath or urine refusal, where the officer improperly explained to the driver the law of implied consent and therefore the driver did not understand the consequences of refusing. A third example would be where the driver made a genuine effort to give a breath or urine sample but was unable to because of a medical issue. A fourth example would be if there were not two breath samples above .08.
If the Driver Wins the Hearing
If the driver wins the administrative review hearing, the hearing officer will issue an order like this one:
Challenging the driver license suspension in some cases is a good idea. If the driver wins the hearing, they get their full driver license back. If the driver loses the hearing, they have to wait either 30 days (for breath over .08) or 90 days (for a breath refusal) to apply for a hardship license to drive for business purposes only.
Be sure to consult with a lawyer when making these decisions and to guide you through this confusing and stressful process.