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UNDERSTANDING THE 10 DAY RULE, or, HOW TO KEEP DRIVING IF ARRESTED FOR DUI IN FLORIDA
You have just been arrested for a first DUI and you are reeling with questions. Your driver’s license was taken by the arresting officer and you are faced with looming issues of how to manage work, school, and/or family care. Immediate legal advice is critical to maintain or maximize your ability to drive for work, educational, medical, and other necessary aspects of your life.
If you refused to submit to a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine after arrest, or, having submitted to a test, had a result that showed a blood alcohol level over .08, your driver’s license has been seized by the police, and your driving privileges have been administratively suspended by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV, for short). You have only 10 days to decide on a course of action best suited to your individual circumstances to maximize your ability to drive. This suspension is imposed by the DMV, and is not connected to the criminal case, so a public defender cannot assist you or advise you.
So … what are your choices within the first 10 days of your arrest and what are the consequences?
I. DO NOTHING.
If you choose to do nothing, you may drive normally for 10 days using your DUI citation in place of your driver’s license. After 10 days your driving privileges will be suspended for 6 months if you had a blood alcohol result over .08, and for 12 months if you refused a breath, blood, or urine test. You will not be able to drive for ANY PURPOSE for 30 days if over a .08, or, for 90 days if you refused. After that time period has passed, you may seek a limited purpose permit to drive for work and school and “to maintain a livelihood,” after you have signed up for DUI School and an evaluation for substance abuse treatment. Your permit and your license will be suspended if you fail to complete DUI School or any recommended treatment. You will not be allowed to obtain a valid license, even after the entire suspension period, if you have not completed these requirements.
THIS IS A BAD CHOICE.
II. CONSULT an experienced DUI attorney within the 10 day time period.
Your attorney will review the facts of the initial police encounter and the circumstances of the arrest and recommend one of two paths.
Path #1: If a legal reason exists to contest the lawfulness of the suspension, your attorney can obtain a temporary extension of your right to drive for the limited purposes described above and will request that a Formal Review Hearing take place. Your attorney’s request must be made within 10 days of your arrest and a hearing will be scheduled within 30 days of your arrest. Your attorney will obtain all police reports from the DMV in an expedited manner to assist in preparing for the hearing and will be able to subpoena any officer deemed necessary to resolve the legal issues at the hearing. If your attorney wins the hearing, the suspension will be lifted and you will be restored to your full driving privileges (pending the outcome of the criminal case). If your attorney has an unfavorable ruling from the DMV Hearing Officer you will suffer the same 30 day or 90 day “hard time” suspension as if you had done nothing before you are able to apply for a limited purpose permit. One positive of choosing to have a Formal Review Hearing, win or lose, is that your attorney may take testimony from the arresting officers which may be helpful in resolving the pending criminal case.
Path #2: After an initial review of the facts and your particular circumstances, your lawyer may recommend that you waive the formal review hearing within the 10 day time limit. Your attorney can assist you to waive the formal review hearing and help you obtain a restricted driving permit WITH NO HARD TIME suspension. You will be required to sign up for DUI School within the 10 day time period before submitting the waiver. This options means that you will be able to drive for those purposes necessary to maintain your livelihood without interruption.
III. BOTTOM LINE.
Consulting with a knowledgeable DUI attorney can make a difference in how, and if, you are able to drive after a DUI arrest, long before any action or decision has been reached in a court of law in your criminal case.
Further information is available on the DMV website for more complex cases (CDL licenses, 2nd or more DUI arrest).