DHSMV Formal Review Hearings
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Tampa, you will not only be prosecuted in the criminal court system, you will also be subject to an administrative proceeding, handled by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (hereinafter “DHSMV”). The DHSMV will review your matter for potential suspension of your unrestricted driving privilege, secondary to the DUI arrest. Unlike the criminal court system, when dealing with the DHSMV, you are not addressing a right, rather you are fighting to maintain the license permitted you by the State of Florida to drive on our roadway. As such, while you do not have the same due process rights you enjoy in the criminal system, you are eligible for a hearing to determine the lawfulness of any potential suspension. While these administrative hearings consist of a very complicated process, the attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm are intimately familiar with every step along the way. We understand that time is of the essence for preserving your rights within DHSMV hearings, and we will make sure you have the opportunity to save your driving privilege. The administrative process has very strict requirements, but our system ensures that no dates are missed and all paperwork if timely filed in conformity with DHSMV guidelines. The Mayberry Law Firm has the experience necessary to give you the best shot at avoiding an administrative driver’s license suspension.
Upon arrest, pursuant to Florida’s implied consent law, you will be asked to submit to a breath, blood, and/or urine test, dependent on the officer’s suspicions and what he or she can legally ask for you to submit to. Should you give a breath test above a 0.08 or should you refuse any of the listed tests, you will be issued a criminal driving under the influence citation. The DUI citation will put you on notice that your driving privilege is set to be suspended. Within 10 days of the citation’s issuance, you will have the right to challenge the DHSMV’s attempt to suspend your unrestricted driving privilege. Should you fail to demand this hearing within the 10 day period, you are ultimately waiving the right to make that challenge at all.
Considering the very limited scope of a DHSMV hearing, it would be in your best interest to hire a DUI attorney experienced with the DHSMV process. The Mayberry Law Firm handles DHSMV hearings in Tampa and the surrounding Tampa Bay area on a weekly basis and are well versed with the law involved. We will file a demand for a formal review hearing within the required 10 day period and in the process we will obtain a 42 day business purpose driving permit for you in most cases. Pursuant to Florida Statute 322.2615(9), the DHSMV is required to hold your formal review hearing within 30 days of receipt of our demand. If the DHSMV fails to hold a formal review hearing within 30 days, they must reinstate your unrestricted driving privilege.
During the formal review hearing, our attorneys will argue that the evidence against you does not show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the officer had probable cause to believe that you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence (at a breath alcohol level above 0.08), or that your refused one of the requested tests after being informed of the refusal consequences. The officer should have informed you that a first refusal would result in a 12 month driver’s license suspension and that a second refusal would result in an 18 month driver’s license suspension.
If our lawyers are successful in overturning your suspension, then your driving privilege will be reinstated immediately. If we are not successful in overturning your suspension, then at the expiration of your 42 day driving permit, you will enter a period of “hard time” where you cannot drive for 30 days, if you blew over a 0.08, and you cannot drive for 90 days if you refused a requested chemical test. It is during this hard time period that we advise our clients to sign up for, and complete, the appropriate level DUI school. Enrolling in the DUI school will allow our clients to be prepared when the time comes to apply for a permanent restricted driver’s license, pending their eligibility.
Collaterally, formal review hearings can be useful to gain information from an officer who was involved in your case, in a setting where he is placed under oath. On occasion, this information ca be used as leverage in your criminal case to earn a charge reduction or to bolster your chances should you go to trial.
Though DHSMV suspensions are independent of the criminal court system and the suspensions imposed therein, they still carry a harsh penalty. Our lawyers are experienced in DHSMV hearing law and know the ins and outs of the system. Contact us today at (813) 444-7435 to see how we can help you with your DHSMV hearing.