As you know, when you are arrested for DUI, your Florida driver’s license is suspended. 6 months for a breath reading of .08 or higher, 1 year for a refusal. If you have prior DUIs or have refused before, you could lose your license for even longer.
The Department of Highway Safety And Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) considers driving to be a privilege, not a right. So based on the arrest alone - which is nothing more than accusation - your license is suspended automatically. You may challenge the suspension through a formal review.
However, as of July 1, 2013, you may waive formal review for your first DUI. By waiving, your attorney is not going to challenge the administrative suspension but the upside to it is that you will get a hardship license right away.
If you lose your administrative hearing, you have to incur a period of a hard suspension before you are eligible for a hardship. This period can be up to 90 days for a refusal.
This is a discussion that you should have with your DUI attorney. In many situations, it may be in your best interest to challenge the administrative suspension. If you prevail, your full driving privileges will be restored.
However, there are circumstances in which waiving the hearing might be best. For instance, if you absolutely cannot risk a period of a hard suspension, it may be best to waive and accept a hardship license immediately with no waiting period.
A hardship, or work-purposes license, permits you to drive for work and school purposes only. Driving for non-work or non-school purposes could result in your arrest for driving while license suspended.
Eric Matheny is DUI lawyer serving Miami and Broward.