Why The DUI License Suspension Process Matters To You
When Florida police officers stop drivers on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence, a drivers’ license suspension is almost inevitable. The only way to avoid this outcome is to provide a chemical sample that shows a BAC below the legal limit, and that almost never happens.
There is an inevitability to the license suspension process as well. Indeed, the decks are stacked against defendants. The hearing officer is not a judge, there is no jury, the burden of proof is low, and the issues are narrow. Therefore, a number of people believe that it is simply pointless to fight the suspension. Making matters worse, the temporary license that defendants receive at the jailhouse is only good for ten days, so many drivers miss the limited opportunity they have to challenge the suspension.
However, as outlined below, inaction during this phase often makes a bad situation (a DUI arrest) into something worse (a DUI conviction). Partnering with an attorney, carefully preparing for the hearing, and aggressive representation at said hearing often makes a very significant difference.
Hearing Results in Port St. Lucie
Florida is an implied consent state, a fact which has a number of consequences. For example, a chemical test refusal is admissible in evidence, police officers can take blood samples from unconscious defendants without their permission, and most defendants under 21 must drive with ignition interlock devices. The most serious consequence, especially in sprawling suburban areas like Port St. Lucie, is drivers’ license suspension.
Although the issues are very narrow, it is still possible to “win” at the Administrative License Suspension hearing if the stop was illegal. That could be because of:
- A defective DUI roadblock,
- An unreliable third-party tip, or
- Facts that indicate a lack of probable cause.
If the evidence supporting the stop’s legality is weak, many hearing officers will either reduce the period of suspension or throw the matter out altogether. Realistically, however, these outcomes are not very likely.
However, there’s more than one way to define “victory” in ALS hearings. In Florida, criminal defendants cannot question police officers or other witnesses before trial in misdemeanor prosecutions, including first and second DUIs. So, the ALS hearing is an attorney’s only chance to question the arresting officer under oath. Such testimony can be used later at the trial in order to discredit the officer and undermine the state’s case.
As an extra bonus, the ALS hearing is a free deposition, a move that may save the defendant hundreds of dollars.
Hardship Drivers’ Licenses in Florida
After the first ten days of a suspension period, Florida drivers may be eligible for a restricted license. They must have a limited number of prior DUI chemical test refusals, complete a DUI education class, obtain copies of their driving records, and pay required fees.
The hardship license allows Floridians to driver to and from work, to and from school, to and from the grocery store, and so on. An attorney can press the matter with the DMV, so applicants often get their hardship licenses within a week. Typically, the hardship license is valid for the remaining suspension period.
Connect with Experienced Lawyers
The license suspension proceeding is an important part of a DUI defense. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.