How to obtain a DUI hardship license in Florida following an arrest for driving under the influence as of 2016

If you have recently been arrested for DUI in Florida and wish to have your driving privilege reinstated for work purposes you may be confused by conflicting information that you are reading on the Internet. The administrative laws governing the Florida Department of motor vehicles is confusing when it comes to suspensions following arrests and convictions for driving under the influence. Further complicating is the fact that some major changes were made to the law governing DUI suspensions as of July 1, 2013. Fortunately, this recent change actually benefits individuals who had been arrested for driving under the influence and need a driver license to get to and from work without any interruption.

Applying for a work purposes license after being arrested for DUI

It is important to note that there are two different situations whereby a person arrested for DUI may seek to obtain a temporary hardship license otherwise known as a work permit. These are:

  1. Applying for a hardship license after being arrested for DUI but before any conviction takes place.
  1. Applying for a hardship license following being convicted for DUI.
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For the purposes of this discussion we will primarily be focusing on the immediately obtaining of a DUI hardship license or work permit following an arrest for DUI. The unexpected threat of losing one’s driver’s license under the circumstances seems to be where people are the most frantic. Significant confusion often arises from concerns as to whether or not the person arrested should apply for a formal review hearing, informal review hearing, whether that right should be waived and most importantly whether or not they will have to endure a 30 day, 60 day, or 90 day “wait period” depending on whether or not they took the breathalyzer. Information about this wait time (formerly known as hard time) is conflicting on various legal sites. It should be noted that there has never been a 60 day hard suspension as stated on some DUI websites.

In the past, following an arrest for DUI, a person accused would not be able to obtain a hardship license until 30 days or 90 days following their arrest depending on whether or not they submitted to chemical testing (breath testing). Fortunately, as of July 2013, these wait periods are no longer in effect. Under the current state of Florida DUI administrative law, it is possible for a person to be arrested for driving under the influence and immediately obtain a temporary hardship license otherwise known as a work permit.

In order to immediately obtain a work permit following an arrest for DUI, the person accused must apply with the department of motor vehicles within 10 days of their arrest. They must also voluntarily waive or give up their right to ADSHMV formal review hearing. This option will allow the arrested party on interrupted driving for work purposes and otherwise circumvent the 30 or 90 day hard suspension.

Changes to how criminal defense attorneys strategically approach administrative review hearings with regard to DUI suspensions in Florida

For over a decade our criminal defense law firm in Broward County Florida had the vast majority of our clients DUI suspensions overturned as did many DUI lawyers. Most of these victories were to the fact that officers failed to appear at the scheduled DMV hearing. This is not to say that administrative hearings were not successful from a defense standpoint in other circumstances, however, the fact was that most suspensions were overturned following an officer’s nonappearance. If you years ago efforts aimed at streamlining the internal structure of the Department of Motor Vehicles resulted in hearing officers being able to simply continue hearings indefinitely rather than overturning suspensions. This greatly reduced the effectiveness of a defense lawyer requesting an administrative review hearing on behalf of their client. Further changes to the law which went into effect in July 2013 made waving a formal administrative review hearing the more attractive option for individuals arrested for DUI absent special circumstances.

In what appears to be some form of trade off, the Department of Motor Vehicles will allow a person who has been arrested for DUI to enjoy uninterrupted driving for work purposes provided that they wave their right to an administrative review hearing. This of course follows the DMV’s significantly decreasing the likelihood of success for DUI lawyers who sought to overturn suspensions via formal hearings.

There is no question that waving a formal review hearing is the more attractive option for most DUI clients in most circumstances. You will find a lot of information out there suggesting that there is some evidentiary advantage to being able to talk to officers at an administrative review hearing and that they should always be filed for within 10 days of an arrest. In most circumstances, however, this evidence is easily obtainable by other means.


William R. Moore is a criminal defense attorney practicing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is tried to verdict over 250 DUI jury trials and is an avid speaker on criminal defense tactics and strategy.