In Florida, driving under the influence is one of the major criminal offenses. The state has been strict in ensuring that road accidents are significantly reduced by dealing with primary causes such as DUI, failure to observe road signs, and careless driving. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) can quickly suspend your driver’s license following a DUI arrest.
As you already know, license suspension can negatively impact your life. You might struggle to get another means of transport to run your errands. In extreme cases, you might even lose your job due to a lack of reliable means of transportation. However, you need to understand that you can challenge this suspension at a DMV hearing.
What is a Florida DMV Hearing?
A DMV hearing for DUI is an administrative proceeding that provides you with an opportunity to contest the automatic suspension of your driving privileges in Florida. The hearing is conducted by the Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The whole point of this hearing is to give you a chance to prove that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to stop and arrest you. If the officer had no probable cause, the arrest might be deemed illegal, and your driving privileges might not be suspended.
You should also know that a DMV hearing differs from a criminal court case. A criminal DUI court case will focus on whether you are guilty or innocent of DUI charges, while a DMV hearing focuses on the technicalities of your arrest.
How Can You Request a DMV Hearing in Florida?
You only have ten days to request a DMV hearing after your arrest. If you do not make this request within the timeframe, you will automatically forfeit your right to a hearing, and your license will be suspended. This means that the only way to get your license back is by waiting for the suspension period to elapse.
Fortunately, requesting a DMV hearing is not a complicated process. You can do it by sending a letter to the Bureau of Administrative Reviews or by calling the office. You will be required to give your name, address, driver’s license number, and the date of your arrest. The Bureau of Administrative Reviews will then mail you a hearing date.
Which Type of Hearing Should You Request?
DMV hearing is structured so that the odds are usually stacked against the person requesting the hearing. This is because the arresting officer will likely have more evidence to present than you do. However, you can choose between a formal and informal hearing to increase your success chances.
1. Formal DMV Hearing
In a formal DMV hearing, you and the arresting officer must testify. The hearing will be recorded, and both parties will be placed under oath. This means you will have to tell the truth about what happened on the night of your arrest. The hearing officer will then use this evidence to determine whether or not there was probable cause for your arrest.
2. Informal DMV Hearing
In an informal DMV hearing, the arresting officer will not have to testify. This means that the only evidence that will be used to determine whether or not there was probable cause for your arrest is your testimony. You must be very convincing in your testimony to win the hearing.
What Can You Expect During a DMV Hearing in Florida?
You and the arresting officer will be allowed to present your cases during the hearing. The hearing officer will then decide based on the evidence and testimony that has been presented. The officer who arrested you will have to prove that they had probable cause to stop your vehicle.
Some things that can be used as a probable cause include speeding, swerving, and running a red light. If the officer does not have this evidence, your arrest might be deemed illegal, and your driving privileges will not be suspended.
If the hearing officer decides that the officer had probable cause to arrest you, then your driving privileges will be suspended. The length of the suspension will depend on whether this is your first, second, or third DUI offense.
How Can You Prepare for a DMV Hearing?
You should take your DMV hearing seriously because it provides you with an opportunity to avoid license suspension. One of the best ways to prepare for the hearing is by hiring a DUI attorney. An experienced attorney will help you to understand the charges against you and build a strong defense.
Your attorney will also be able to cross-examine the arresting officer and challenge the evidence that has been presented against you. This might help to prove that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest you, and your driving privileges will not be suspended.
You should also know that you have the right to represent yourself during the DMV hearing. However, this is not recommended because the process can be complicated, and you might not have the necessary skills to build a strong defense.
What Happens After a DMV Hearing?
If the hearing officer decides that the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest you, your license will be suspended. The length of the suspension will depend on the number of DUI offenses you have. If this is your first DUI offense, your license will be suspended for 180 days. If you are a habitual offender, your license might be permanently revoked.
If the hearing officer decides that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to stop your vehicle, your license will not be suspended. It is important to note that even if your license is not suspended, you might still be required to attend DUI classes and install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
As you can see, there is a lot at stake in a DMV hearing. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you is vital. It’s the only way to ensure you have the best chance of winning your case and keeping your license.
At Meltzer & Bell, we have helped many people to win their DMV hearings, and we can do the same for you. We understand the law and know how to build a strong defense. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.