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The Florida Bar

Administrative Driver’s License Suspension Based on Age

Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney William Moore says that driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances that cause impairment is treated differently when the accused driver has not yet reached his or her twenty-first birthday. The justification for this is that possession (and thus consumption) of alcohol is not legal prior to turning age 21. A nationwide campaign in the 1980s led to the enaction of 21 plus laws in every U.S. state, whereas most had previously had 18 as the legal drinking age. The rise in the legal drinking age also coincided with dramatic toughening of the DUI laws throughout the country.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (the FDHSMV, more commonly known as the DMV) administratively suspends driver’s licenses under certain circumstances, such as when a driver refuses a breath, blood, or urine test, or when he or she is charged with driving under the influence. Interestingly, refusal of roadside field sobriety tests may be used against a DUI defendant in court as evidence of his or her knowledge of guilt, but does not by itself result in the suspension of one’s license to operate a motor vehicle.

Drivers under the age of 21 who are arrested for DUI are treated differently on the administrative level than their 21 plus counterparts. If the driver submits to a blood or breath alcohol test registering a reading of 0.02 percent or higher, his or her driver’s license will be suspended for six months. If this is the second or subsequent occurence with the same driver, the suspension will be for one year. If the driver refuses to submit to the test, the suspension will be for one full year, while a second or subsequent refusal will be for 18 months. The logic behind this disparity is to discourage breath and blood test refusals.

Broward DUI Lawyer William Moore says that an individual whose driver’s license has been suspended by the FDHSMV has 10 days to request an administrative hearing before the agency on the merits of the suspension. The police officer will usually be called to testify about the reason for the traffic stop and the circumstances leading to his or her determination that the driver was likely under the influence when operating the vehicle. These administrative hearings may result in the cancellation of the driver’s license suspension and the reinstatement of driving privileges, even if the State Attorney’s Office proceeds with prosecuting the DUI in criminal court.

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