There are TWO different types of driver's license suspensions that you need to be concerned about when facing a DUI charge in the State of Florida.
The first type of suspension is the administrative suspension. This is the suspension that automatically occurs when you are arrested for a DUI. The officer will seize your driver's license and your DUI citation will act as your temporary driver's license for 10 days. Within that 10-day period, your DUI attorney MUST either submit an application for a formal review with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or waive the formal review so that you can immediately obtain a hardship license, provided you are eligible.
Failure to act within 10 days of arrest will result in the suspension of your Florida driver's license. There will be a 6-month suspension if your breath-alcohol reading was .08 or higher. There will be a 1-year suspension if you refused to submit to the breath test.
If it is not your first DUI, the suspension period will be longer.
The administrative suspension is not related to the criminal case at all. This should be treated as something separate. However, your DUI attorney will be able to subpoena witnesses for the formal review, which will allow your attorney to speak with witnesses in advance of trial. This is very helpful in preparing your criminal case.
At the formal review, a DHSMV hearing officer will either uphold the suspension, and you will have to endure a period of "hard suspension" before possibly being able to obtain a hardship license.
For the criminal case, there may be a court-imposed suspension. This suspension only occurs if you are found guilty at trial or plead guilty. If your DUI case is in Miami-Dade County and you are participating in the Back On Track program, the court will not impose a suspension.
The court suspension is separate and apart from the administrative suspension. The judge, not the DHSMV, will order your license suspended for a period of time as a condition of a sentence. It does not matter if you have already had your license suspended by the DHSMV and it has been reinstated at the time of the sentence. Like I said, the administrative suspension and the criminal case are separate proceedings.
If you receive a court-imposed suspension and you have already completed the administrative suspension, you may be eligible to obtain a hardship license right away without having to wait.
It is a common misconception that your license will only be suspended once for a DUI. In reality, it could be twice. Make sure you fully understand the consequences of a DUI as they relate to your Florida driver's license before you take any action.
Eric Matheny is a DUI attorney representing clients in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County.