If you are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), you must deal with two components of your DUI case:
- Suspension of your driver’s license.
- DUI criminal complaint against you.
Although these issues run parallel, they are independent. A public defender may represent you in the criminal case only. He or she is not allowed to help you with the license suspension matter. Consequently, you should retain a private DUI attorney to help you keep your driving privileges.
Temporary Hardship License
When you are arrested for a DUI, your license is immediately suspended, but you are allowed to drive for 10 days after the date of the arrest. During this ten-day period, you must file an application for a Formal Review Hearing (FRH) with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The application is an appeal of the license suspension. If you file the application within ten days of the date of DUI citation, the Department of Motor Vehicles will grant a hearing date and give you a 42-day hardship license to drive for purposes related only to work, school, medical or religion.
If you or your attorney don’t file during this ten-day period, you will lose your license from anywhere between 6 and 18 months.
Hardship License After Pleading Guilty
If you plead guilty to a DUI charge, your driver’s license is suspended for at least six months. If you are caught driving during this time, you are guilty of a criminal offense for which you will probably serve jail time. You could have avoided this unfortunate result by becoming eligible to get a hardship license before you pleaded guilty.
To get a hardship license, you must complete DUI school and counseling. Depending on the circumstances, you might benefit if you complete the classes and counseling while the case is pending, and doing so is not necessarily an admission of guilt.
If you plead guilty to a DUI after finishing DUI school and counseling, your license will be suspended for six months, but you will be eligible under most circumstances to get a hardship license. If you plead guilty before finishing DUI school and counseling, you will not be eligible for a hardship license and you will be prohibited from driving anywhere.
Why Hire a Private DUI Lawyer?
Public defenders cannot help you obtain the 42-day hardship license or present your case at the DMV. Public defenders are also not intimately familiar with DUI school and counseling and getting a hardship driver’s license after a DUI conviction. Only a knowledgeable, private DUI attorney can help you stay a licensed driver.