Recently, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) decided to allow first-time DUI offenders to waive a formal review - also known as a DUI administrative hearing - in an effort to avoid the "hard suspension" that comes with losing a formal review.
When you are arrested for a DUI, your license is automatically suspended. If it is your first DUI and you refused to submit to the breath test, your license will be suspended for 1 year. If it is your first DUI and you submit to the breath test, your license will be suspended for 6 months.
When your license is suspended, Florida law requires that you take action within 10 days of your arrest in order to keep your driving privilege. You must request a formal review of your driver's license suspension within 10 days or risk losing your license.
If you request a formal review, a temporary driving permit will be issued to you while your DUI attorney sets your hearing and tries to challenge your suspension.
Recently, the DHSMV decided to allow first-time offenders to waive the hearing and apply for an immediate work-purposes ("hardship") license. This license allows you to drive to and from work, school, and other necessary occasions while your driving privilege is suspended.
If it is your first DUI, you must decide whether you should challenge the driver's license suspension or waive.
Ask yourself this - can you do without your license for any period of time? Can you rely on friends, public transportation, or ride-sharing services for 30-90 days?
If you set a formal review and you lose, you will be forced to undergo a "hard suspension." This is a period of time in which you cannot drive under any circumstances. For a breath case, you will undergo a 30-day suspension before you are eligible for a hardship license. For refusals, you will undergo a 90-day suspension before you are eligible for a hardship license.
This hard suspension period is to serve as a punishment.
So, if you can do without your license for 1-3 months, I recommend that you have the formal review. It is a great opportunity for your DUI attorney to gather information about the facts of your case, including being able to subpoena witnesses.
In counties where depositions are rarely granted in misdemeanors (Miami-Dade), a formal review is a chance to speak to officers long before trial. You can prepare better and get a stronger grasp on the evidence, therefore mounting a more effective defense.
On the other hand, if you cannot afford the 1-3 months without a car, then waiving the hearing is your only viable option.
Talk with your Miami-Dade or Broward DUI lawyer before making this important decision.