How long will I lose my license for Drunk Driving?

How long you will lose your license for drunk driving or driving under the influence will depend on whether this is your first offense, whether or not you submit to a breath test, as well as your BAC or blood alcohol limit, should you choose to submit.

First Offense

For a DUI first offense the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your drivers license for six (6) months if after being arrested for DUI you submit to a breath test resulting in a blood alcohol level of .08 or above, which is the legal limit in Florida. If you refuse to submit to the breath test your license will be suspended for one (1) year from the date of your arrest, because by operating a motor vehicle in Florida with a valid license your consent to the breath test is implied. If your breath test is under a .08 your license will not be suspended but you will more than likely still face a DUI prosecution in court. If you are found guilty of a first time DUI in court, your license will be suspended for another six (6) months. This suspension does not go back in time to the date of your arrest but starts from the day of the DUI conviction in court.

Hardship Licenses for First time Offenders

First time offenders are able to obtain a hardship or “Business Purposes Only” license during the initial period of the suspension if (1) they show proof of enrollment in the DUI School (enrollment only, not completion) and go to the Dept. Of Motor Vehicles for an informal review where you will be asked questions about why you need to be able to drive. The driver will also be asked to waive their right to a Formal Review hearing contesting the suspension of their license. In almost all cases, a first time offender is issued a business purposes only license which allows the driver to go to work, school, grocery store, medical appointments, religious services, and other necessary activities. In other words, during the period of suspension the driver cannot use a vehicle to go to the beach, movies, or a nearby party.

After being convicted, the driver may obtain a hardship or business purposes only license if they have COMPLETED the DUI School. This is different from the initial DMV suspension which only requires enrollment in the school to get a hardship.

Second Offense

If the driver picks up a 2nd DUI at some point in their life and refuses the breath test after also refusing after their first arrest, their license will be suspended for 18 months with no ability to obtain a hardship license. The suspensions mentioned above are Department of Motor Vehicles administrative suspensions which deal with your “privilege” to operate a motor vehicle in Florida. It’s not a “right” as some people presume. There are other suspensions that may arise from being found guilty in court of a DUI.

For a second DUI within 5 years of the first DUI the driver will have their license suspended for five (5) years from the date of the 2nd conviction. Within 5 years dates back to the date of the 2nd arrest going back to the date of the first conviction. There is no ability to get a hardship license until after at least one (1) year for a 2nd DUI within 5 years.

Additional Offenses

For a third DUI within 10 years of the first DUI, the driver will have their license suspended for 10 years. For a fourth (4th) or subsequent DUI at any time the driver wll have their license permanently revoked for life.

Florida DUI Defense Attorney

As you can see the Florida laws dealing with drivers license suspensions for drunk driving are very complex and not always easy to understand. It’s important to be represented by an experienced DUI defense lawyer so that you understand the possible types of suspensions and length of suspensions for DUI. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can also sometimes contest the suspensions for second time offenders who face the possibility of no hardship license. The arresting officer often makes mistakes in the investigation and fail to follow the proper protocol such as reading implied consent to take a breath test. Its also important to have an experienced DUI defense lawyer in court. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can often obtain a favorable result by getting the DUI reduced or amended to a Reckless Driving charge which will not result in any furter license suspension by the court.

Written by

Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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