You will lose your license for a DUI in Florida, unless you take swift action. If convicted, you will lose your license for a DUI in Florida for a minimum of six months. This is true for all first-time DUI offenders. If you have priors or there was an accident and another person was injured, your license suspension may be far longer.
Immediate License Suspension After a DUI Arrest in Florida
If law enforcement arrests you for a DUI in Florida, ordinarily, your license will have been automatically suspended as soon as your Uniform Traffic Citation was filed with the DHSMV.
So even if you haven’t been convicted of the crime, the arrest alone means your license is already suspended.
Challenge Your License Suspension
You can challenge your license suspension but you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to do so (including weekends and holiday days).
To make the challenge, your criminal defense attorney will request a civil administrative hearing.
If your DMV hearing fails, you can file an appeal by ‘a petition for writ of certiorari’ to your local circuit court, or where your case was reviewed.
Waive Your Hearing
Another potential route to avoid losing your license after a DUI in Florida, is to waive your rights to a formal review administrative hearing.
That can allow you to gain a hardship license immediately.
However, to be eligible you must enroll in DUI school and show proof of that to the Bureau of Administrative Reviews within 10 days of your arrest.
But, be warned that this option forfeits your rights to have the suspension thrown out entirely. The suspension will remain on your record, even if your criminal charge is reduced.
Read Related: Will I Have to Do DUI School in Florida?
Long-Term License Loss After a DUI Conviction in Florida
If convicted of a DUI, you will face various penalties including the loss of license for at least 180 days.
Even if this is your first-time DUI offense, the law takes the crime very seriously. Here are the specific license penalties for a DUI in Florida:
- First DUI offense: Between 180 days to 1-year revocation.
- First DUI offense, with bodily injury: At least 3 years revocation.
- Second DUI offense, within 5 years of the previous conviction: At last 5 years revocation. Potential hardship reinstatement after one year.
- Second DUI offense, 5 years or more after the first conviction: Same as a first-time offense.
- Third offense, within 10 years of the previous conviction: Same as a first-time offense.
- Fourth conviction: Mandatory permanent license revocation. Potential hardship reinstatement after five years. Revocation ends upon release from incarceration.
DUI cases involving deaths can result in far more severe penalties and permanent license revocation.
Can I Get a Hardship License After a DUI in Florida?
If you lose your license for a DUI in Florida, you can request a ‘hardship’ reinstatement. Hardship licenses can be awarded to people who need to drive to get to and from work or other critical needs. However, they come with strict restrictions about how and when you drive.
If you’ve committed a first-time DUI offense, you can request a hardship license 30 days after your revocation (or 90 days if you refused to perform a blood-alcohol level test). You will also need to go to and complete a DUI school.
If your DUI was for a BAL level of 0.15 or more, you’re also required to have an Interlock Installation Ignition Device (IID) installed on your vehicle.
What If I’m a Commercial Driver and I’ve Got a DUI in Florida?
Those working as commercial drivers (with a CMV License), such as truck drivers, will be disqualified by the court for driving commercial vehicles for a year.
Note that the BAL level for a CMV driver is just 0.04% compared to the regular 0.08%.
What Happens If I Drive on a Suspended License in Florida?
The shortest answer to this question is that you will likely be charged with the offense of driving on a suspended license and may face jail time. If your license was suspended for a DUI, it will be taken very seriously. But, it can depend on the circumstances.
In Pinellas County, the courts will usually look at your criminal history and if you were intoxicated again this time.
The best thing to do is to get a hardship license. If you cannot do that, then you should: take a voluntary online driving school, pay off all outstanding fines and court costs, and contact a criminal defense lawyer.
What to Do Next After a DUI in Florida?
Act Fast, Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer
The best thing to do at this point is to call a criminal defense attorney. We regularly work with people who are facing first-time DUIs in Florida. As stated above, you have just 10 days after your arrest to appeal the license suspension. We will help make that appeal, to give you the best chance of keeping your driving privileges.
The worst thing you can do is do nothing at all. Not having a license can make life very difficult, from getting to work to driving the kids around.
Defend Your Charges
We can also help defend you to get your charges and penalties reduced or dropped entirely.
It’s not uncommon for DUI arrests to be unlawful or for the breathalyzer test to be performed incorrectly. Further, even if the case is dropped altogether, the charge could be reduced to a Reckless or Careless Driving charge which does not require a license suspension. Whether you were recorded as being over the BAC limit, caught sleeping while drunk in your car, or refused a breath test you can potentially argue:
- The police had no justified reason for you to be stopped.
- Their breathalyzer machine was faulty or performed by an incorrectly trained police officer.
- The breath test or sobriety test instructions were confusing or incorrect.
- You didn’t understand the officer.
- You have physical or mental health issues that justified your breathalyzer test refusal.
- You have physical impairments that caused a sobriety field test failure.
Read Related: Are DUI Breath Test Results Always Accurate?
Florida DUI License Loss Statistics
- 1 in 8 Floridians have a suspended license – that’s 2 million people.
- 106,684 people have suspended licenses in Pinellas County – that’s 14%.
- 25% of drivers in rural Florida have suspended licenses.
- Only 25% of Pinellas County suspensions were due to criminal offenses, the majority are for unpaid fines and fees.
DUI Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If you’ve been arrested and don’t want to lose your license for a DUI in Florida, please contact our DUI defense lawyers immediately. We can work to quickly appeal your license suspension, get your hardship license and fight to get your charges reduced or dropped.
Our Pinellas County criminal defense attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., are part of one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms. We have the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300