Can I Obtain a Hardship License After My Florida DUI Arrest?
A person arrested in Florida for a first offense DUI can take steps to obtain a hardship license, if certain steps are taken with 10 days of the arrest. When a person is arrested for DUI charge in Florida, the driver in the vast majority of cases has to deal with the reality of an immediate driver’s license suspension as a consequence of the arrest. As discussed in a previous post, if a DUI driver takes the breathalyzer test and blows above .08, Florida suspends the driver’s license for a period of 6 months. If the person refuses to take a breath test, the license is suspended for a period of 12 months, or 18 months if the driver has ever previously refused to take a breath test. The good news is that a change in Florida law allows drivers who have never been convicted of a DUI to IMMEDIATELY obtain a hardship license, if certain steps are taken within 10 days of the arrest. An experienced DUI attorney with over 24 years of DUI Defense experience such as myself can instruct you exactly how to get your driver’s license reinstated, by simply calling me at (941) 954-5333.
If you have never been convicted of a DUI, a WAIVER HEARING is the best means available to guarantee a hardship license and maintain your ability to drive a motor vehicle in Florida. The waiver hearing allows you to reinstate your driver’s license for the entirety of the suspension, whether it be for 6 or 12 months. The driver’s license obtained is for business purposes only and does not give you an unlimited ability to drive. It does, however, allow any driving related to your employment, and also includes other driving purposes, such as grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, and church.
To begin the waiver process, you must first obtain a DMV waiver form, which is available for you at my office at NO CHARGE, or by visiting the Bureau of Administrative reviews office located in Clearwater, Florida, if your DUI arrest occurred in either Manatee, Sarasota, or DeSoto County. The next step is to enroll in what is commonly referred to as “DUI School”, which for first time offenders is a 12 hour course. Even though the entire waiver process must be completed no later than 10 days from the date of arrest, you only have to enroll in the DUI school within that 10 day time period, which means to pay the enrollment fee and schedule the courses at a later date. It is not necessary to have the school completed within the 10 days following the arrest.
Once you have enrolled in the DUI school, the waiver form must be properly completed and witnessed. Once those steps are taken, the driver must then visit the Bureau of Administrative Reviews, along with proof of DUI school enrollment, to have a waiver hearing before a bureau hearing officer. There is a $25 fee for the waiver hearing, which must be paid at the time of the hearing. The hearing officer will determine the need for the hardship license, and will normally give an immediate decision as to eligibility.
There is an alternative to attending the waiver hearing in person, which for cases in this jurisdiction may be preferable to driving the 45 miles to Clearwater. For anyone who visits my office for a free consultation on your DUI case, I will prepare the necessary documentation, and fax it to the Clearwater Bureau of Administrative Reviews at NO CHARGE. After faxing the documents, the hearing officer will call you and perform the waiver hearing over the telephone. The fee for that hearing is also $25, which must be paid with a credit or debit card at the time of the hearing. The vast majority of my clients prefer this method, and the hearing officers are normally very prompt in conducting the telephone hearings.
Assuming that the waiver hearing is successful, the driver is immediately approved for a hardship license. You may then go to any local Department of Motor Vehicle office of your choosing, pay a reinstatement of fee of approximately $200. and leave with a valid Florida driver’s license.