Having your driver’s license suspended or revoked is one of the most frustrating consequences of getting convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). Depending on the circumstances of your case and your criminal record, you may face a license suspension or revocation of anywhere from 6 months to life.

Fortunately, an experienced Florida DUI attorney can help you avoid a license revocation by defeating your DUI charges, appealing your suspension, petitioning for limited driving privileges, or applying for reinstatement of your license.

Florida DUI attorney Erika Valcarcel has extensive experience handling DUI cases in Sarasota and Manatee counties and fighting on behalf of people facing DUI charges to help them keep their driver’s licenses.

Your License May Be Suspended if You Refuse to Take a Breath Test

When a police officer has probable cause to believe you’re intoxicated behind the wheel, he or she has the authority to ask you to submit to a breath test. You may legally refuse to submit to the test, but there will be consequences. On the other hand, your refusal to take a breath test will ensure that the prosecution will lack crucial evidence when they bring charges against you.

To motivate drivers to agree to a breath test, Florida law mandates the suspension of a DUI suspect’s license for one year if they refuse. The suspension takes effect 10 days after the arrest. A second refusal to submit to a breath test will result in an 18-month suspension.

Your Florida DUI defense attorney may be able to fight the loss of your driving privileges over your refusal to submit to a breath test — especially if the arresting officer lacked a probable cause of your intoxication or reasonable suspicion that you were breaking the law when they pulled you over.

Suspension For Exceeding the Florida Legal Limit

When you decide to accept the breath test during your traffic stop, you’re taking the risk of having your license suspended for six months if you blow over .08 — the legal blood alcohol level. This suspension, which takes effect 10 days after your arrest, is similar to the suspension for not submitting to a breath test in that it’s a matter of administrative procedure and has nothing to do with your criminal charges. For example, if your lawyer defeats the administrative suspension, you may still face a criminal revocation if you are found guilty of a DUI charge.

After your license gets suspended, you have 10 days to request a formal review hearing. The procedures for these hearings can be complicated, so successfully fighting back against an administrative suspension usually requires a Florida DUI defense lawyer.

One benefit of requesting a formal hearing is that you will be issued a 42-day hardship license, which allows you to drive during restricted times and to restricted places. If your lawyer succeeds at the hearing, your license will be reinstated and the suspension will be erased from your record.

Facing a Criminal Revocation of Your Driving License

A criminal revocation takes effect the day you receive your sentence, which could be weeks or months after you receive your administrative suspension. The length of the criminal revocation depends on the circumstances of your case and how well your lawyer was able to advocate on your behalf at the sentencing hearing.

Florida law provides minimum and maximum revocation periods for different scenarios, as outlined below.

  • 6 to 12 months — You will fall into this range when you are convicted of your first DUI, or when you get convicted for the second time more than 5 years after your first conviction.
  • 5 Years — This is the penalty when your second offense occurs within 5 years of the first.
  • 10 Years — You will fall into this category when you commit a third DUI offense within 10 years of the second.
  • Permanent revocation — When you face your fourth DUI conviction or any DUI conviction that causes serious injury or the loss of life, the court may revoke your license permanently.

How to Obtain a Hardship Reinstatement

If your lawyer is unable to have the administrative suspension of your license overturned, or if you receive a DUI conviction mandating the revocation of your license, the only way you can get your driving privileges back is by applying for a hardship (or “business purposes only”) license at the Florida Board of Administrative Review.

A hardship license will allow you to drive to work, to school, or to the grocery store during certain hours. If you get caught driving under other circumstances, you could face the new Florida criminal charge of driving while license suspended and your probation may be violated.

  • Reinstatement after first conviction — You must complete DUI school before applying for reinstatement, and if your BAL was more than .15, you have to use an ignition interlock device for 6 months.
  • Reinstatement after second conviction — If your license was revoked for 5 years, you can apply for reinstatement after 1 year. You must complete DUI school, remain in a DUI supervision program, and demonstrate that you have not consumed alcohol or taken drugs in the last year. You’ll have to use an ignition interlock device for 1 year, or 2 years if your BAL was over .15.
  • Reinstatement after third conviction — You can apply for a hardship reinstatement 2 years into your 10-year revocation period. You’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve finished DUI school, remained in a DUI supervision program, and abstained from alcohol and drugs during the year before your application. You must use an ignition interlock device for 2 years.
  • Reinstatement after permanent revocation — You may be eligible for reinstatement after 5 years, as long as you can show you haven’t committed any substance-related offenses, driven a motor vehicle, or used drugs or alcohol during that period. You must complete DUI school, remain in a DUI supervision program, and use an ignition interlock device for 2 years.

Contact a Florida DUI Attorney

Having a revoked or suspended driver’s license can make living and working in Florida extremely difficult. For this reason, you should retain the services of a Sarasota criminal defense attorney as soon as you get charged with DUI. Winning your case is the most effective way of preserving your driving privileges, but if you lose, your lawyer can help you navigate the administrative procedures necessary to obtain a hardship reinstatement.

If you need help with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, call Florida DUI attorney Erika Valcarcel today at (941) 363-7900 for a free and confidential consultation about your case. She’ll explain your options for getting your license back.