Every year, new laws are put into effect. In recent years, there have been numerous changes in DUI laws because of the focus on drunk driving. Florida is no different, as several new laws or amendments to current laws have occurred in recent years.
One of the most recent changes to Florida DUI law is that any driver arrested for a DUI that either fails or refuses a breathalyzer will now automatically have his or her license suspended. This penalty is not dependent upon the outcome of the DUI case. Even if you beat the DUI charges, your license is taken at the time of the stop and will not be returned until one year later.
For those of you that have jobs dependent upon your ability to drive, you are able to apply for a temporary license, but these restricted licenses are only available to first time offenders. Furthermore, new Florida DUI laws require an ignition interlock device to be installed if convicted of DUI charges in court.
• Hardship License – first time offenders can apply for this license immediately after the arrest. Obtaining a restricted hardship licenses after a DUI will grant a person the right to drive for work or business purposes.
• Challenge – this part of the law was previously in effect. First time drivers that have been charged can challenge the hard suspension after 30 days of failing a test or 90 days after refusing to take the test.
• Waiving Right to Challenge – first time DUI offenders that waive their challenge rights immediately are able to apply for a permit (assuming they have no other violations on their license). The Florida courts allow this to deter drivers from challenging the case outright. This is an attractive offer for someone that cannot or does not want to risk losing his or her driving privileges for a full year.
What Do These Changes Mean for DUI Arrestees?
First and foremost, the law is written so you are better off refusing to take a breathalyzer than you are in taking it. While you do stand to lose your license for the longest period of time (90 days) if you wish to challenge the charges, you are far better off not blowing a .08 than providing the prosecution with ammunition against you. Your attorney can always justify the refusal (for example, do not trust the test, officer bias, etc…) during a hearing.
Waiving your right to challenge the case does enable you to get your license back right away, but realize you will now have a first offense DUI on your record. Under current Florida DUI law, a second violation will result in excessive fines, a longer license suspension, possible jail time or community service, and the use of an ignition interlock device for a specified period once your license has been restored.
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