The biggest concern for many of our clients who have been charged with Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, is whether or not they will be eligible for a business purposes driver’s license.  Sometimes this type of license is also referred to as a work permit.  Generally, those that are Florida residents are going to be eligible for a business purpose license. This is true unless the individual has prior DUI convictions, as a person is no longer eligible for a business purposes license upon a second DUI conviction.  If a person charged with DUI is from out of state and/or has a driver’s license from out of state, a case by case analysis will be required to determine when and where that person is permitted to drive.

When one is charged with DUI in the state of Florida, there are essentially two cases that stem from this arrest.  The first and most obvious is the criminal court case in front of a County Court Judge.  The second case that stems from the arrest is an administrative proceeding in which the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles institutes a driver’s license suspension of the arrested driver.  It is this administrative proceeding which results in the most immediate concern regarding one’s driver’s license.  This administrative suspension begins immediately and a driver must make some important decisions within ten (10) days of being arrested.

There are two options when one is charged with DUI in terms of access to a business purposes license.  Both options must be elected within ten (10) days of the date of the arrest for driving under the influence.  The first option is to challenge the DHSMV from entering an administrative suspension. This is done by electing for a “formal review” of the license suspension, which is the driver’s opportunity to challenge the suspension.  If this option is selected, the criminal defense attorneys at Robertson & Hunter will file the paperwork necessary to institute the formal review challenge.  Winning this formal review hearing is the only way to have the administrative license suspension removed from your driver’s license history.

After one has elected a formal review, the DHSMV will send the criminal defense attorneys at Robertson & Hunter a temporary business purposes license for you, which we will then either mail to you or have available for pickup.  This temporary permit will run the length of time it takes to have the formal review hearing.  The formal review hearing is an opportunity to question the witnesses in your case while they are under oath, as well as to challenge the admissibility of the evidence supporting the license suspension.  The opportunity to question the witnesses under oath is extremely important in a Florida DUI case.  The reason for this is that a DUI is a misdemeanor charge.  Misdemeanor charges in the State of Florida do not necessarily entitle a defendant to depositions.  Depositions are the opportunity to question witnesses in a case under oath.  So because we are not entitled to them in misdemeanors in the State of Florida, this opportunity to do so in an administrative hearing is critical.

However, there is a downside to electing a formal review hearing.  This downside is that if you lose the hearing, you must sit out a period of “hard time” where you are ineligible for a business purposes driver’s license. The length of this hard time depends upon whether one took the breath test and blew over, or refused to take the breath test (or a urine test in drug cases). For over the limit breath tests, the hard time period is thirty (30) days.  For refusals, the hard time period is ninety (90) days.  This hard time period is the only period throughout the entirety of the case in which a first time offender is ineligible for at least a business purposes license.

Because of the possibility of this hard time period, some of our clients elect a second option that poses no danger of hard time, but does result in the suspension being permanently upon their Florida driver’s license record. In this option, the client “waives” the formal review of the driver’s license suspension and accepts the suspension being entered.  In exchange for waiving the formal review, the client is granted an immediate business purposes license and their is no danger of a period of hard time.  While the first option may be the better legal option because of the opportunity to win and to question witnesses under oath, for many the uncertainty of the hard time potentially being imposed is untenable given their work and family obligations.

If the option to waive the formal review is selected, the person selecting this option will need to enroll into a DUI School.  These schools are offered throughout the State of Florida and the country.  There is charge to enroll, in Florida the schools are generally around $280.00 for first time offenders.  This proof of enrollment in DUI School is required in order to select this second option. This proof of enrollment as well as the election to waive the formal review still must be submitted to the DHSMV within ten days.

In summary, there are options, particularly to those charged with DUI for the first time, for one to obtain a business purposes driver’s license (work permit).  The criminal defense attorneys at Robertson & Hunter are available to assist in navigating the administrative DHSMV process in order for you to obtain a business purposes license while your case is pending.  Time is of the essence given the ten (10) day window to elect your DHSMV administrative option. Give us a call to discuss your Florida Keys or Key West DUI charge today.