One thing that most people don’t understand about DUI arrests in Florida is that they result in two sets of legal proceedings: the criminal proceedings and the driver’s license proceedings. Today let’s discuss the part that relates to your driver’s license.
In Orange and Seminole counties, when you’re arrested for DUI, the officer takes away your license and cites you for drunk driving. This citation actually functions as your temporary hardship license for 10 days. During that time (and this is crucial) you can request a formal review hearing to contest the suspension of your driver’s license. Again, you have 10 days to request the hearing; if you don’t, then you waive your right to challenge the validity of the suspension, and your license will be suspended.
These formal hearings are conducted by an officer with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles — or DHSMV. Note: the hearing officer is not a judge; the officer is a DHSMV employee.
At the hearing, you can expect to see the arresting officer and perhaps the officer who asked you to submit to alcohol testing. Your lawyer can also represent you at the hearing, and this the advisable approach.
Your lawyer can look at the evidence with a view toward proving a number of things, some of which are technical in nature and could lead not only to your keeping your license, but also to the charge being dropped.
For example, did the officer have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop you? Did the officer have probable cause to conduct field sobriety tests? Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you and request that you submit to alcohol testing? All of these questions relate to rules and procedural standards that, too often, police officers break or fail to uphold.
With that said, at the DSHMV hearing, it may also be possible to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s criminal case.
If you win your DSHMV case, then your license will be reinstated. Also, if you hire a lawyer to represent you at the hearing, then you are not required to attend.
Given that having a driver’s license is a major factor in just about everybody’s daily life, it is crucial to do whatever is legally within your grasp to protect your driving privileges. And an experienced DUI defense lawyer can help you explore your options and fight to protect your rights.