Getting Your Driver’s License Back After a DUI Arrest

Getting Your Driver’s License Back After a DUI Arrest in Pinellas County

You May be Eligible for a Florida Driving Permit

You May be Eligible for a Driving PermitIf your license was valid on the night of your DUI arrest:

  • You can only drive for ten days using your DUI citation;
  • We can seek an extended driving permit for you by requesting a DHSMV formal review hearing.

You Must Act Quickly to Challenge the Administrative Driver’s License Suspension

If you were arrested for DUI, you may have already had your driver’s license seized and suspended.  The law enforcement officer who investigated your case was authorized by Florida law to take your driver’s license at the time of your arrest if you:

- Submitted a breath sample of .08 or higher;
OR
– Refused to blow into the Intoxilyzer machine.

If either of the above conditions are satisfied, then the DHSMV administrative driver’s license suspension automatically drops into place.

You have the right to challenge this administrative suspension of your privilege to drive.  However, you must act quickly in order to preserve that right.  You only have 10 calendar days from the date of your arrest to challenge the driver’s license suspension and have your attorney request a civil administrative hearing for that purpose.  Note that Florida law specifically limits this 10 day period to “calendar” days, not just “business” days.  This means that even though the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is closed on Saturday and Sunday, the clock is still running on your 10 calendar day time limit.

If My Driver’s License was Taken on the Night of My Arrest, Does that Mean I Can’t Drive?

If your license was seized and suspended for submitting a breath sample of .08 or above, you will be able to drive for a period of ten days using the DUI citation issued to you on the night of your arrest (assuming that your driving privilege was otherwise valid prior to your DUI arrest).  Unless you hire a lawyer to request a Formal DHSMV Review Hearing, you will not be able to drive at all for the following thirty day period.  Under this scenario, on the 41st day from your arrest you could then be eligible for a hardship license.

If your license was taken from you because you refused to submit a breath sample, you will likewise be able to use the DUI citation to drive for ten days (assuming that your driving privilege was otherwise valid).  After the tenth day from the date of your arrest, unless you hire a attorney to request a Formal DHSMV Review Hearing, you must then cease all driving for a period of ninety days.  Under this scenario, on the 101st day from the date of your arrest, you may then be eligible for a hardship license.

NEW Special Provisions for 1st Time DUI Offenders Enables Uninterrupted Driving
- Important! Your Lawyer Must File Documents Within 10 Days -

Waiver of the Formal Review Hearing to Obtain an Immediate Hardship License: If you were arrested for DUI after July 1, 2013 and you have never previously had your privilege to drive suspended for a DUI offense, you may be eligible for an immediate hardship license. Within 10 days of your arrest, you can voluntarily waive or give up your rights to a DSHMV Formal Review Hearing. Although this waiver results in the automatic administrative suspension of your privilege to drive, it also triggers the DHSMV to allow for your immediate application for a hardship license. This legal strategy is designed to entirely circumvent the 30 or 90 day “hard suspension.” Most importantly, this approach is likely to keep you driving on an uninterrupted basis by using a hardship license.

When you sit down to talk with an attorney in our office, we will discuss the DHSMV administrative process in more detail. We can help you decide whether its in your best interest to request or, perhaps, waive the formal review hearing in your particular case. We will show walk you through all of the steps necessary to comply with the new provisions of the law that can keep you on the road. Consult with us within the first 10 days!

Florida Department Highway Safety Motor Vehicles Bureau Administrative Review Hearing Office

The Formal Administrative Review Hearing

In order to challenge your driver’s license suspension, it is necessary for your attorney to request a Formal Review Hearing within the 10 calendar day period. Prior to the hearing, an opportunity is provided for your attorney to review all of the documents associated with your case.  At a Formal Review Hearing, your lawyer can subpoena and cross-examine the police officer who arrested you. In most cases, we can conduct the hearing without the need for you to appear, so that you can avoid missing time from work or school.

What is the Difference Between a Formal Review Hearing and a Hardship License Hearing?

A Formal Review Hearing is not the same as a Hardship License hearing.  In fact, these two types of hearings have nothing to do with each other.  The Formal Review Hearing is for the sole purpose of challenging both the DHSMV administrative suspension of your driving privilege on the night of your DUI arrest and to avoid the thirty or ninety day period of no driving.

On the other hand, a Hardship License Hearing is conducted to determine if you qualify for the privilege of getting a restricted license. This hardship license only allows driving for essential purposes related to maintaining your livelihood during any period that your regular driver’s license is suspended. Our office can counsel you on your eligibility for both a driving permit and hardship license. See our articles on Getting a Hardship License or DUI Hardship License Tips for more information.

How Long Could My License be Administratively Suspended by DHSMV?

The Florida Legislature wants to encourage people arrested for DUI to submit a breath sample in order to the arm the prosecutor with evidence showing a breath alcohol level over the legal limit.  The administrative suspension for “refusing” to blow is longer than the penalty for having a breath alcohol level of .08 or above.

  • If it is your 1st DUI arrest and you submit a breath sample over a .08, your license could be administratively suspended for a period of 180 days.
  • If it is your 1st DUI arrest and you “refuse” to submit a breath sample, your license could be administratively suspended for a period of 1 year.
  • If it is your 2nd or subsequent DUI arrest and you submit a breath sample of a .08 or above AND you had submitted a breath sample of .08 or above in a prior DUI case, your privilege to drive could be administratively suspended for a period of 1 year.
  • If it is your 2nd or subsequent DUI arrest and you “refuse” to submit a breath sample AND you “refused” to submit a breath sample in a prior DUI case, your privilege to drive could be administratively suspended for a period of 18 months.

The Three Ways Our Office May Be Able to Keep You DrivingKeeping You Driving:

The Three Ways Our Office May Be Able to Assist in Getting Your Driver’s License Back After a DUI Arrest

1.)  We can file all of the appropriate documents necessary to seek a temporary driving permit.  This temporary permit will allow you to continue driving beyond the ten day period permitted by your DUI ticket.

2.)  We will file an application for a Formal Review Hearing and request a copy of the forms and reports that law enforcement relied upon to justify taking your license.  We will then carefully scrutinize these forms and reports to determine the legal sufficiency of these materials in preparing our arguments for the hearing itself.  If it is necessary to call witnesses to testify or to present evidence on your behalf, our office will issue witness subpoenas to insure their attendance at the hearing.  At your DHSMV hearing, your lawyer will seek to invalidate the driver’s license suspension.

3.)  If your driver’s license is nevertheless suspended, we may still be able to help you secure a hardship license.  You can benefit from our advice about the nature and type of questions typically posed in the hardship license application process. We will also provide you with the necessary hardship driver’s license application materials. In addition, we can counsel you on the necessary tasks that you should complete prior to making your hardship license application.

What are My Chances of Winning a Florida DHSMV Formal Review Hearing?

It is important to note that the issues and burdens associated with a Formal Review Hearing are quite different from the issues that are considered by a criminal court.  The Formal Review Hearing is a civil proceeding and will be limited to relatively narrow questions that are not generally considered in the criminal court proceeding.  Success at a Formal Review Hearing can often be attributed to the simple failure on the part of law enforcement to timely submit or properly complete affidavits, forms, and reports. As such, even if there is a significant amount of incriminating evidence in your criminal court case, it may not negatively impact your chances of winning a DHSMV Formal Review Hearing.

The facts of every case are different, so it is impossible to say with certainty what your chances of winning might be at this early stage. However, at your initial consultation, we can review the documentation in your case and possibly identify relevant issues that can be raised at your DHSMV administrative hearing. If we win the DHSMV Formal Review Hearing, this will result in getting your driver’s license back.  The request for the hearing and subsequent favorable administrative ruling may have the effect of resulting in your uninterrupted ability to lawfully drive.

What if I Lose the DHSMV Formal Review Hearing?

If you lose the Formal Review Hearing there are no additional adverse penalties assessed against you — other than what you would have suffered had you elected not to pursue this remedy. (For example, losing the Formal Review Hearing will result in the same driver license suspension period, along with, the 30 or 90 days of  ”no driving” you would have suffered had you never initially requested the hearing.) Even if you lose the Formal Review Hearing, our initial request will have still earned you an additional four to six weeks of driving beyond that permitted under the DUI citation originally drafted by the arresting officer. Such additional time will have enabled you a better opportunity to secure arrangements for alternative transportation upon the commencement of your period of no driving.

How Do DUI Lawyers Win a Formal Review Hearing with the Florida DHSMV?

The DHSMV hearing is limited in scope to only the following issues:

In cases involving a breath test reading of .08 or higher, the DSHMV Hearing Officer must examine:

a.) Whether the law enforcement officer had probable cause to believe that you were driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages; and

b.) Whether you submitted breath test samples that resulted in readings of a .08 or higher.

OR

In cases involving a refusal to submit to a breath test, the DHSMV Hearing Officer must examine:

a.) Whether the law enforcement officer had probable cause to believe that you were driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages; and

b.) Whether you refused to submit a breath sample after being told that your refusal to submit would cause the suspension of your driving privilege for a period of at least one year.

See Florida Statute §322.2615(7)(a) – (b).

The ultimate outcome of the DHSMV hearing has little to do with the specific factual allegations made by the law enforcement officer involved in your case.  Instead, the focus of the hearing is directed towards the “sufficiency” of the documentary evidence rather than the “quality” of the overall investigatory evidence intended for use in the prosecution of the criminal court DUI charge.  Most Formal Review Hearings are won or lost on technicalities, such as the failure to include required documents, clerical errors in the documents themselves, or defects in the documents.  Very few, if any, Formal Review Hearings can be won by challenging the factual allegations of law enforcement. You will note that because the scope of the DHSMV hearing is limited in nature, it does not contemplate the larger question of whether you are guilty or innocent of the DUI charge.

An Experienced DUI Attorney Can Make a Difference

The process of challenging a civil administrative license suspension requires the assistance of a qualified attorney who knows and understands the unique issues associated with the government’s collateral attack on your privilege to drive. It is obviously important to have a competent and knowledgeable attorney on your side who can spot the issues associated with both your criminal court case and the DHSMV Formal Review process. You should know that Florida law governing DUI’s is in a constant state of flux.  Court decisions are issued throughout the State of Florida on a regular basis that modify, add, or subtract from the legal requirements necessary to impact your driving privilege.

Our office routinely handles Formal Administrative Review hearings at the local Florida DHSMV, Bureau of Administrative Review office in Clearwater.  We are well familiar with the procedures put in place by DHSMV and the legal issues that need to be explored in our effort to overturn the administrative suspension.

Let’s get to work on getting your driver’s license back!

Call our office to schedule a free initial consultation at (727) 578-0303. 


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Our Office Locations
Main Office:
Baypoint Commerce Center
The Koger Building
Corner of 9th Street North & Gandy Blvd.
9721 Executive Center Drive North, Suite 120
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Consultations also available at:
Ulmerton Road and 58th Street North
The Summit Building
Clearwater, Florida 33760