Whenever you are arrested for DUI in Tampa, you are facing two types of driver's license suspensions.
Administrative License Suspension (automatically starts at time of arrest)
Court Suspension (imposed by the court after the conclusion of the DUI case)
Each of these license suspensions needs to be fought in a different way. The administrative suspension needs to be fought with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the court suspension needs to be fought as part of the DUI in criminal court. Each of those two processes are independent. This means that even though the DMV suspends your license, it doesn't mean that you can't beat the criminal charges or the other way around.
When you are arrested for DUI, the police officer will give you a DUI citation. On the bottom of the citation it will state that your license has been suspended either for:
Being over the limit (breath alcohol content above 0.08) or
Refusing to provide a chemical test (breath, urine or blood test)
The ticket will also give you 10 days to challenge this suspension and serve as your 10 day driving permit. This means that you have 10 days to file the necessary paperwork with the DMV to contest the suspension. If this is your first DUI arrest, you can either fight the suspension or waive your right to a hearing and request an immediate hardship license but you must make this choice WITHIN 10 days of the arrest.
If you do not act within 10 days of the DUI arrest, you forfeit your right to challenge the DMV suspension. You can still apply for a hardship license under certain circumstances but you will have to serve a so called "cold period:" a period of time during which you cannot drive at all no matter where. Whether or not you qualify for a hardship license and how long the cold period is you must serve, depends of the facts of your case.
In order to apply for a hardship license at this stage, you will need to provide proof that you have enrolled in DUI school. If you have previously completed DUI school or if you have had a prior DUI arrest, you should sign up for the Advanced DUI school. You will also have to fill out the appropriate paperwork and attend a DMV hearing after which the DMV will hopefully approve your application for a hardship license.
When you are arrested for DUI you have a right to contest the administrative license suspension. You have to do so during a formal administrative hearing at the local DMV Administrative Hearing Office. At this hearing you can contest the following issues:
The officer did not stop you legally;
You were not impaired;
Even though you refused the breath test, the officer could not legally request this test;
The officer did not follow the proper procedure when requesting the breath test;
The breath test instrument used in your case was not working properly.
An experienced DUI defense lawyer will also know how this administrative hearing may be used to help defend against the criminal DUI charges in court.
If the DMV decides against you after that hearing, you will be able to apply for a hardship license after serving the appropriate "cold period" (see above) and as long as this was not your 2nd or subsequent refusal and as long as you have not been convicted 2 or more times of DUI. This process is oftentimes new to people arrested for DUI and can be very confusing. If you are contesting the license suspension, you will need to make the appropriate legal arguments to have a chance at winning the hearing. Therefore, it is best to hire an experienced Tampa DUI attorney right away. When you retain us for your DUI, we also handle the administrative hearing without you having to pay a separate legal fee. Call us at 813-401-0130 for a free consultation. Don't wait - you only have 10 days.