When a person is arrested in Florida for a DUI charge, the arresting officer will normally ask the driver to submit to a breathalyzer test. If the driver takes the test and the breathalyzer results are .08 or above, his or her driver’s license is immediately suspended for a period of 6 months. If the driver refuses to take a breath test, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend the driving privileges for 12 months, or 18 months if the driver has previously refused to take a breath test. Anyone who takes a breath test and is below a .08 will not suffer a driver’s license suspension at the time of arrest. Filing for the formal review hearing in a timely manner is a vital decision which may be critical in a successful DUI Defense.
When either of these two suspensions occur, the driver has 10 days from the date of the arrest to file for what is known as a formal review hearing. A formal review hearing is basically an appeal which is filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles, with the purpose of possibly setting aside the driver’s license suspension. When the hearing is filed in a timely manner the DMV will in its discretion either keep the suspension in place, or in some cases may set aside the suspension.
To file for a formal review hearing, the application must be filed NO LATER than 10 days after the date of arrest. The DUI ticket, also known as the uniform traffic citation, will have the date of the arrest on the ticket. Many DUI arrests occur before 12:00 a.m., although the arrested person may not be booked into the jail until after midnight. The police officer may write the ticket according to the time of the traffic stop, or may write it by the time of the actual arrest. In those cases the date on the ticket will determine when the 10 days begins to run.
The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles has an application form which is the preferred method of filing the formal review hearing request. We will be more than happy to provide you with a copy of that form by calling our office at (941) 954-5333. That application must be filled out in its entirety, and must be postmarked no later than the 10th day following the date of arrest, along with a copy of the DUI ticket. The driver must also mail a check or money order for $25 with the application, payable to DHSMV. The formal review request must be mailed to the office which corresponds to the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred. For Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto County DUI arrests the application should be mailed to the following address:
Bureau of Administrative Reviews Office
4585 140th Avenue North
Clearwater, FL 33762
Once the application is sent in a timely manner, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles is required to schedule the appeal hearing no later than 30 days from the date of arrest. The Department will mail the driver a notice with the hearing date and time. In DUI cases which occur in Sarasota, Manatee or Desoto County, those hearings are now held over the telephone. The appeal is limited in its scope, so it would normally be advisable to at least consult with an attorney before the hearing date.
I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the formal review hearing process, and will assist you in filing the formal review hearing at no charge, if you contact my office and schedule an appointment regarding your DUI case.