Who Gets a Hardship License, and When Does Eligibility Begin?
As if the penalties for a DUI case are not bad enough, the DMV starts the punishments by suspending a driver’s license when the driver blows over .08, or refuses to blow. These suspensions happen immediately, but the driver can drive on the DUI citation for 10 days from the date of arrest. Before we discuss hardship issues on administrative suspensions, let’s review the suspensions themselves. These suspensions vary depending upon the circumstances surrounding the DUI arrest (i.e., blow or refusal, etc), here’s how they break down:
- First Case of DUI with a BAL of .08 or higher = 6 month suspension
- Second (or more) Case of DUI with a BAL of .08 or above = 1 year suspension
- First Refusal to blow, give urine or blood = 1 year suspension
- Second (or more) Refusal = 18 month suspension (plus, as you may already know, a second refusal is a criminal misdemeanor offense)
How Long Must I Wait Before Getting a Hardship License?
How long you must wait to drive again depends upon whether or not you decide to challenge the DUI suspension, or waive any challenges. If you decide to challenge the suspension, that “appeal” is called a “review hearing”. If you elect to have a hearing, the DMV will not issue a hardship license for either 30 days (on a blow above .08 BAL) or 90 days (on a refusal). We call this “hard time”, because appealing the suspension forces a driver to wait 30 or 90 days before getting a hardship license. Ouch, that’s tough. To start the appeal process, a properly drafted appeal (not a difficult document, one page) must be submitted to the Bureau of Administrative Reviews within 10 days (not business days, just “days”). here’s the breakdown on when a hardship reinstatement may be granted:
When requesting a formal review of your DUI Suspension on a BAL of .08 or greater, or Refusing to Blow, in order to get a hardship license, you must show proof of enrollment in DUI school, then apply for the hardship license. For blows > .08 BAL, the driver must go 30 days without a license (or permit) before being granted a hardship reinstatement. If this is a refusal case, driver must go a whole 90 days with no license or permit before the DMV will grant a hardship reinstatement. The DMV gives no hardship reinstatements to drivers with two or more refusals. After filling out a form, a DMV officer will take you back to their office, to explain why you need a hardship. Most people who have to work, or go to school, will qualify for a hardship. If you have no job and no school to attend, getting a hardship may be difficult (sick family members, children in private school with no bus route?).How to get a Hardship License Immediately
- First, you must qualify: Immediate, no wait hardship licenses are for first offenders only (even a prior reckless driving will disqualify you, sorry!). Technically, you are “waiving a formal review hearing”.
- Second, you must enroll in the DUI School.
- Third, you must pay. This will, in total, run about $500, breaking down as follows: $250 for the DUI School, $25 Waiver Fee to DMV, and a $200 reinstatement fee (yes, I know your license was suspended less than 10 days ago, but they want their $200 to give it back to you…).
Your reward for not putting the DMV through the pain of having a hearing (waiving) is that the DMV will give you a business purposes license immediately. No down time anymore! These changes to the DUI law took effect on July 1, 2013, and only apply to DUI arrests after July 1, 2013. No 30 day wait, no 90 day wait for refusals. This application cannot be done by the attorney, it must be done by the driver, in person. And, the driver must do this within the first 10 days. If the 10th day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, your Monday waiver on the 11th or 12th day will be rejected. The 10 days are strictly enforced by the Bureau of Administrative Reviews)
Now, for those law buffs out there, some Bureau offices are interpreting the “10 days” incorrectly here. Florida’s Administrative Code controls these hearings, and the code has a provision for the computation of time, here it is:
15A-6.004 Computation of Time.
In computing any period of time required by these rules, by order of a hearing officer, or by an applicable statute, the day of the act, event or default from which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day of the period so computed shall be included unless it is a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or any other day in which the applicable division office is closed in which event the period shall run until the end of the next day which is neither a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or other day in which the applicable division office is closed. For purposes of these rules, legal holiday means those days designated in Section 110.117, F.S.
As you can see, the law does not permit the Bureau to compute the 10 days with such a hard line. When the 10th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday, or a day in which the Bureau is closed, the driver should be permitted to file for the permit on “the next day which is neither a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or other day in which the applicable division office is closed.” Pretty clear, right? Yet, not understood some DMV offices. Well, at least you now know the law, one day we’ll get the government to actually follow the law…
The paperwork required to waive a formal review hearing may be submitted via fax, but the fax must include a credit card number for the $25 waiver fee, and the $200 reinstatement fee. Don’t forget to include proof of DUI school enrollment.
DUI Suspensions for drivers under the age of 21 — with BAL of .02 or greater: Driver first required to complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education course. At a BAL of .05 or above, driver must finish DUI program to be eligibile for hardship reinstatement. Also, the driver must go 30 days without a license or permit before being eligibile for hardship reinstatement.
Note that Florida law will not allow a hardship reinstatement on a 2nd (or more) refusal, or if the driver has two or more DUI convictions (unless it’s a second DUI within 5 years). Also, any driver suspended from driving a commercial motor vehicle may not obtain a hardship license to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
Yes, I know this doesn’t cover absolutely everything, so feel free to call me, criminal attorney John Guidry, and I’ll answer any more questions you may have.