Florida laws are very serious about driving under the influence. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has the authority to suspend your driver’s license automatically following a DUI arrest.
Unfortunately, many Floridians aren’t aware that they can challenge this suspension at a DMV hearing.
What Is a DMV Hearing?
In Florida, a DMV hearing is a hearing before the FLHSMV to review a driver’s license suspension. At this hearing, the FLHSMV can sustain, amend, or revoke an administrative suspension of your license. This hearing occurs separately from a DUI criminal trial, usually while that trial is pending in court.
So why do you need to request a DMV hearing so soon after a DUI arrest? Because drivers have just 10 days to request the hearing or they lose the right to do so. Accordingly, getting your hearing request to the proper party right away is critical if you want to challenge your driver’s license suspension in Florida.
How to Request a Florida DMV Hearing
You must make your hearing request in writing. The FLHSMV offers a request form on its website, which you must submit to the office indicated on your citation.
In filling out the form, you’ll be asked to provide information about the suspension, including the citation number and where the citation was issued. A DMV hearing request must include a $25 filing fee, or the request will not be accepted.
What to Expect at a DMV Hearing After a DUI
At the DMV administrative hearing, you (or more likely, your attorney) will present your case. This is your opportunity to persuade the FLHSMV that it should reinstate your license.
When you request your hearing, you have to choose between a formal or informal hearing.
- Formal hearings more closely resemble a court hearing. Your attorney will have the opportunity to bring evidence, question witnesses, and even conduct cross-examination.
- Informal hearings are quicker but less thorough. A hearing officer will simply examine materials submitted by both sides and make a decision.
Formal DMV hearings also provide an opportunity for your lawyer to obtain information that could be helpful at a future criminal DUI trial. For instance, by cross-examining witnesses and the arresting officer, your lawyer can collect evidence concerning your arrest and whether it was legal.
Regardless of which hearing option you choose, hiring a DUI attorney is the best way to maximize your chances of a successful outcome. They will be able to present your case in the most convincing way possible.
What Happens After a DMV Hearing?
If you are successful, the FLHSMV will reinstate your license, at least until a decision in your criminal DUI trial.
If you lose at the hearing, your license will remain suspended. Even if your license remains suspended, you may be able to get a “hardship license.” A hardship license is a limited driver’s license that permits driving for certain reasons because of necessity (like getting to work).
Ultimately, consulting with an Orlando, Florida DUI attorney will give you a better idea of your options. Each case is different, and various factors, such as previous arrests, will affect the choices available to you after a DUI.
Speak with an Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
At OrlandoDefense.com, our practice focuses on Florida criminal defense cases. Being charged with any crime can be scary, especially if it takes away your ability to drive. If you’re facing a DUI arrest or have had your license suspended, we can help.