A change to Florida's DUI suspension review will have a major impact on drivers charged with being under the influence. There’s now an option to avoid the automatic hard license suspension. But does this mean people are being coerced into waving away a very important right?
As Florida law stands, a driver who refuses to take a breathalyzer test, or who takes one and blows over a .08 receives an automatic suspension starting immediately, independent of the criminal case. This is an administration license suspension (ALS).
The new law waives away the driver's right to challenge the validity of the suspension in exchange for getting a permit right away, or a restricted “Business Purposes Only” license. This is for first time offenders. For second time offenders, you will still want to request a Formal Review Hearing.
Here's a look at the law:
Florida Statute Section 322.2615: Suspension of License; Right to Review
"the driver may request a formal or informal review of the suspension by the department within 10 days after the day of issuance of the notice of suspension or may request a review of eligibility for a restricted driving privilege under s. 322.271(7).”
The review of eligibility is the new provision that gives you restricted but immediate driving privileges.
Problems with the Law
One major issue is the 10 day limit. It doesn’t give the defendant’s lawyer enough time to review the case and decide which is the better option. One should always fight the administration suspension and at a Formal Review Hearing the lawyer gets better prepared to handle the criminal case by questioning state witnesses and gathering evidence for possible defenses that will help the defendant win.
But it’s just too tempting for drivers who need their license right away. It seems to be not in their best interest to risk a 30 day or 90 hard suspension on the chance of winning at the hearing and once you request the formal or informal review, you no longer can request a review for eligibility.
It’s as if the driver is being punished for exercising the right to contest the ALS. There is an overall upside in that it clears some of the clutter of people challenging the ALS and it will cut down on tax payer dollars paying for police overtime. But is it worth denying someone the due process for exercising their rights? Some lawyers anticipate the filing of many legal challenges until this issue is decided.
Refusing a Breath Test
Another spill over effect is now it will make sense for more people to refuse the breathalyzer test. Before, drivers were subject to a hard suspension period of 90 days if they refused the breath test. Now, you can qualify for the “Business Purpose Only” restricted license right away. In the criminal case, if it is between looking at why you refused the breath test or a why you blew a high score, you are better off having refused the breath test. This is a one time only provision. If you refuse to have your breath tested for a second time, that in itself is a criminal act in the state of Florida.
Of course, it’s always easier to just not drink and drive. At sealmyrecord.com, we advocate for safe roads, safe driving and a safe return home. This means we are opposed to drunk driving. But we are also an advocate of civil liberties and fair treatment in the court of law.
Sealmyrecord.com is up to date on the many intricate technicalities associated with DUI cases. A guilty plea will stay on your record for the rest of your life and there may be ways for us to help you avoid that. In many cases the breathalyzer has been poorly maintained or the arresting officer failed to follow proper procedures. Contact us today so we can review your case and suggest options for you.