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Aggressive Defense of DUI Cases
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The Scoop on DUI License Suspensions in Florida
by Tom Hudson
When a citizen is arrested for DUI, one of the first questions on his or her mind is, "how is this going to affect my driving privileges?"
The system is very complicated, so here is a quick primer on how license suspensions work in Florida after someone is charged with DUI.
First, you have to understand that DUI is actually two cases in one. This is supposed to violate the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy, but the courts have made an exception to the Constitution for DUI offenders. A DUI means you can be punished twice--including two separate, independent license suspensions.
The first DUI case is a civil administrative law case. It is held in front of a state hearing officer, rather than a judge. The burden of proof is lower than in criminal court, and the only punishment they can give is to suspend your driving privileges. The second DUI case is the traditional criminal case. It is held in a courtroom, before a judge, and while the judge can ALSO suspend your license, the judge can do a lot more--like imposing fines, probation, and even a jail sentence.
Th Administrative Law Case happens first, and begins
on the day you are arrested. The police take your plastic license and
send it to the Florida DMV. Then, they give you your DUI citation,
which acts as a ten-day temporary drivers license. (It's in the tiny
print at the bottom of the ticket.) That ten-day license is an
unrestricted license. It is good for driving anywhere, anytime.
1. Driving to and from work and necessary on-the-job
1. If you win your hearing, then you can go to the
nearest DMV office and get a duplicate unrestricted license. That
license will be permanent, unless it is suspended by the court in your
2. If your suspension is upheld at the DMV hearing,
then your driving privilege will be terminated as of midnight on the
expiration date of your temporary 42 day license. You will have to serve
a "hard time" (no driving of any kind under penalty of serious jail
time) suspension of either 30 days (for an unlawful blood or breath
level) or 90 days (for a refusal to take the test).
At the conclusion of your "hard time" suspension, you
will become eligible for a hardship BPO license. Your
hardship BPO license lasts for six months, (twelve months if you refused
to blow in the machine) and if your DUI case hasn't been concluded by
then, the restrictions come off and it becomes an unrestricted Florida
drivers license. (The date that it becomes unrestricted will be on the
license.) If the court then gives you a license suspension as a penalty
for a conviction of DUI or Reckless Driving, you will have to return to
the DMV and get another hardship BPO.
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