Driving is a privilege, not a right. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) likes to remind drivers of that fact all the time. Because it’s a privilege and not a right, the privilege can be taken away from you fairly easily.
The important thing to remember is that you should not allow your license to be suspended in the first place. It is cheaper and far less stressful to deal with a matter beforehand than after the fact.
A few ways you can avoid getting your license suspended:
Show up to court or retain an attorney for all criminal traffic matters and non-criminal traffic matters. Your failure to appear in court for a non-criminal citation (speeding, failure to maintain a single lane, failure to obey a traffic control device) will result in a driver’s license suspension. Your failure to appear in court for a criminal traffic offense (DWLS, reckless driving, DUI) will result in both the issuance of a bench warrant and a driver’s license suspension.
Do not accept a plea that will result in a conviction (adjudication) for a drug offense. This includes possession, possession with intent to sell, and trafficking in any controlled substance. A driver’s license suspension is an automatic condition of any drug-related conviction.
Do not plead guilty to DUI. Your license will be suspended as a result of your plea. You may be able to get a hardship, or work-purposes, license, but this is only for your first DUI conviction. A second DUI conviction will not permit the issuance of a hardship.
If you get pulled over for a DUI, have your lawyer file for a DUI administrative hearing. This will allow you to keep driving up until the hearing date. If your lawyer wins the hearing, you will keep your driving privilege.
Make sure you are up to date on all of your child support obligations. Falling behind on child support may result in a driver’s license suspension.
Stay on top of your financial responsibilities. Keep current auto insurance and if there has been a judgment entered against you for a previous car accident, make sure you pay it.
If you have pleaded guilty or no contest to a traffic violation (criminal or non-criminal), you must pay your fines and court costs. Failure to pay will result in a suspension.
Pay your court costs for all felony offenses in Miami-Dade County. If you plead guilty or no contest to a felony in Miami-Dade County, your court costs are due the following day unless you go on a payment plan immediately. You must resolve your court costs or enter into a payment plan immediately after you have taken your plea in court.
Fixing a suspended license is far more costly, stressful, and time-consuming than taking preventative measures to avoid one.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney representing clients in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Broward County, Florida.