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I Got Arrested for DUI in Tampa. How Do I Get a Hardship Driver’s License?

Ah the infamous DUI charge. It’s the crime that can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime without regard for who you are or what your criminal history is. Our firm has represented all walks of life on DUI charges and as a general rule the individual has very little if any criminal history. Quite simply the most prevalent scenario is the one in which an individual has an evening out, drinks a bit, and miscalculates his or her ability to drive their vehicle without impairment. That said, the individual shows some sign of impairment as they drive or violates a traffic law and gets pulled over, ultimately to go to jail for a DUI arrest. Be that as it may, one of the most common questions or concerns we hear is whether or not an individual is eligible for a hardship license. The short answer is generally yes, with some exceptions.

Assuming the DUI charge is a person’s first DUI arrest they will have a few options with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), some much more appealing than others. Until last year an individual had two DHSMV options if they were charged with a DUI in Florida; challenge the suspension through a formal or informal review hearing or don’t. Now an some individuals charged with DUI in Florida can elect to waive their review hearing and instantly get a hardship license. Here are the options as they currently stand in Florida.

If one elects to challenge the DHSMV suspension they must give notice of their demand for a hearing within 10 days of the issuance of the DUI citation. The individual’s attorney would submit a copy of their notice of appearance, demand for review (whether formal or informal), a copy of the DUI citation and a $25 check in order to hold the hearing. Upon submitting the aforementioned the client would be issued a 42 day driving permit allowing them to drive for work, church and school purposes. The DHSMV will then hold a hearing within 30 days of the demand where witnesses can be called and examined in an effort to overturn the impending suspension. If the DUI attorney is successful, the suspension will be overturned and the client will get their unrestricted driving privilege back. If they aren’t, the client will, at the expiration of the 42 day permit, enter a period of hard time where they won’t be able to drive at all for 30 days if they blew above a .08 upon arrest or for 90 days if they refused a breath test.

In this scenario our criminal lawyers advise our clients to go ahead and take and complete a level 1 DUI school so that they may get a hardship driver’s license after the hard time suspension is up which will allow them to drive for work, church, and school purposes.

The second scenario is where an individual waives the formal or informal review hearing and immediately enters the hard time suspension period in an effort to get it over with quickly. Because of the great difficulty in winning formal review hearings at the DHSMV, many former clients have elected this option.

In 2013 a great option was offered through a statutory amendment to FS 322.2615(1)(b)3 allowing for an individual to waive the difficult to win formal review hearing and instantly petition for a hardship license. In order to qualify for this option the person must choose this option within 10 days of arrest, must not have been arrested for DUI on a prior occasion, have signed up for DUI school and pay $25 to the DHSMV. We say great as so often we’ve seen the debilitating nature of the hard time suspension after an unsuccessful bid to overturn a suspension. Though this option forces one to make a choice prior to their attorney having the opportunity to review their police reports, it effectively prevents an individual from not being able to drive to work or for necessities.

Regardless of what options are available to an individual, DUI driver’s license suspensions are difficult to deal with. That said, choosing the right attorney to go over your options and help you decide on which option is best for you is vital. Our Tampa DUI attorneys are here to help. Give us a call today at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847.