To understand the “10 Day Rule” that goes into effect once you’ve been cited for DUI, you need to realize that your DUI is not one case, but two. First, there is the criminal case, for which you will need to enter a plea in court. But in addition, you will have an administrative case with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you blow .08 or higher, or if you refuse the breathalyzer, your license will be suspended by the DMV. It may surprise you to learn that it is possible to have your criminal DUI charges dropped, but still have your license under administrative suspension, since the two cases are technically unrelated.
Recent Changes to Florida’s Law: Your Options under the Current Law
Prior to July 2013, you had 10 days to request an administrative hearing to review that suspension. In that 10 day period, although your license would be confiscated by the arresting officer, your citation would typically serve as your driving license you filed a request for a hearing date. (If the officer only checked the DUI box on the citation and failed to indicate that it would serve as a temporary driving permit, you would need to go to DMV to obtain one). This is still true.
Once you filed the request, DMV would issue a permit that would allow you to drive for 45 days. If the hearing resulted in the upholding of the suspension, the temporary permit and your license would then be revoked for a mandatory period of 30 days with absolutely no driving for any reason if you blew a .08, or 90 days for refusing the breathalyzer before you could apply for a hardship or business purposes license. This, of course created serious problems for people who needed to drive to work.
A fairly recent change in the law has caused some people confusion and uncertainty as to their best course of action.
Under the new rule, if you waive your right to oppose the suspension and accept the 6 months for .08 or 12 months for refusal to blow, you can immediately apply for a hardship license. While this seems like a reasonably good trade-off at first glance, there is a downside. The DUI suspension becomes part of your permanent driving record. That means higher insurance rates and possibly being prohibited from working as a commercial driver virtually forever.
Under the current law, similar to the older one, you can still opt to challenge the suspension and accept the 30 or 90 days of zero driving privileges if the suspension sticks.
An advantage that you should consider is that if the police officer and/or the person who administered the test that determined your BAC (if it was someone other than the arresting officer) fail to show up for your hearing, which often happened previously, under the current law your suspension will be invalidated and your driving privileges must be reinstated.
Talk to your attorney within the 10 day period after your arrest about which of the two options is preferable in your situation.