Being arrested for a DUI is a serious event that can impact someone in many ways. Besides having an arrest on their record, a driver may temporarily lose their ability to legally operate a motor vehicle. But depending on the circumstances of the arrest and on the severity of the charges, there may be a few options to consider in order to regain the ability to drive after a DUI. Our DUI attorneys have assisted countless clients accused of a DUI in St. Petersburg, FL, and can offer some important insights on what happens to your license after a DUI arrest – and what you can do about it.

Does a DUI arrest in Florida always mean I will have my license suspended?

Florida DUI laws are very harsh. Drivers who have been arrested for driving under the influence will have their license suspended immediately and only allowed to drive to/from work for the next 10 days. The length of time your license will remain suspended depends on the severity of your DUI charges and on whether you are a first-time offender or not.

A refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test results in a year-long suspension, while a first-time DUI offender may have their license suspended for up to six months. Other factors such as whether a minor was present in the vehicle or if anyone was hurt or killed often result in even longer suspensions. However, some drivers may be eligible to apply for a hardship license.

What is the 10-day rule for reinstating your license?

Florida’s 10-day rule gives first-time offenders two options during the 10 days following their DUI arrest- you can either request a formal hearing to try and reinstate your license, or you may also forfeit your right to a formal hearing and basically accept your DUI charge in exchange for a chance to receive a hardship license.

A hardship license is a temporary license with very restrictive rules that allows first-time DUI offenders to continue driving their vehicles to maintain their basic livelihood, including driving to/from work, business, church, or for medical treatment. Florida Motor Vehicle Laws allow first-time offenders and those who had their license suspended after refusing a breathalyzer test to apply for a hardship license right away.

What is the difference between a formal administrative hearing and a hardship hearing?

A formal administrative hearing happens in a courtroom and includes testimonies from the arresting officer and any other officers involved. During a formal hearing, you may present evidence to argue that your license was suspended illegally, and at the end of the hearing, a decision will be made to either fully reinstate your license or issue a hard suspension.

A hardship hearing is an informal procedure without witnesses. In order to obtain a hardship hearing, you need to agree to waive your rights to a formal hearing and agree to enroll in DUI school in exchange for a hardship license that lasts the entire duration of your DUI suspension. A hardship hearing does not eliminate a DUI from your record, but may result in a more favorable outcome than a formal hearing, in some cases.

How can a Florida DUI attorney help me with my license suspension?

If you have had your license suspended after a DUI, it is important to know your rights to fight back. With the help of an attorney, you can appeal an unfavorable decision after a formal hearing or be better prepared to take the right steps in obtaining a hardship license. The seasoned attorneys at our St. Petersburg office can help you fight your DUI charges and question the legality of your arrest. Contact us for a free case evaluation to get started.