When an officer arrests you for DUI, you will actually have two separate and distinct cases pending against you: an administrative case and a criminal case. Each one can result in a driver’s license suspension. Below are some of the basics you should know about a DUI driver’s license suspension in Florida.
How does the state handle an administrative license suspension?
Your administrative case begins automatically the moment an officer arrests you. A judge does not hear administrate DUI cases; rather, a state hearing officer will handle it. These types of cases require no proof of guilt like criminal cases do. Upon arrest, the police officer will confiscate your license and issue you a citation, which serves as a ten-day, unrestricted temporary driver’s license.
The law gives you this ten-day grace period in which to decide whether or not to fight your case. During this time, you can opt to request a hearing with the state hearing officer to determine your right to keep your license. When you request the hearing, the DMV will issue a six-week Business Purposes Only (BPO) restricted license to allow you to continue to drive to work and other approved places until your hearing.
At the hearing, the DMV will decide to either dismiss your case or uphold your suspension. If you lose your case, the duration of the suspension depends on your prior DUIs.
- First-time offenders will get an automatic six-month license suspension.
- If you refused the Breathalyzer or have previous convictions, your administrative suspension will last for one year.
Note: Driver’s license suspensions are the only penalty the hearing officer can give.
How does Florida handle a criminal license suspension?
DUI criminal cases take place in a courtroom, just like most traditional criminal cases. The judge will listen to the facts of the case and then make a decision.
If she convicts you of DUI, the judge can not only suspend your license, but also sentence you to jail time and/or probation, and impose fines. The severity of the penalties depends on the details of any priors that you may have.
Can the state penalize me twice for the same offense?
While the U.S. Constitution generally prohibits states from penalizing people twice for the same crime (known as double jeopardy), the state can suspend your license at both the administrative and criminal level.
However, if the state suspends your license twice, the suspension period may overlap. For instance, let us say your administrative suspension starts after your arrest and lasts for six months. Then three months after your arrest, you are convicted in criminal court and the judge orders you to serve another six-month suspension. The first suspension would overlap the second, so you would serve a total of a nine-month suspension, not 12.
How can I reduce the chances of losing my license?
If you have not done so already, consult a DUI attorney at Goldman Wetzel to help you navigate the case and criminal court process. The quicker you act, the better able we will be to help you obtain a BPO and fight your charges.
For answers about your DUI case or for help fighting your charges in St. Petersburg, contact us today at 727-828-3900.