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Florida’s New License Suspension Law and its effect on DUI/DUBAL cases

Florida has been one of the many states to strengthen DUI laws within the last couple years. Within the last year, more traffic and DUI laws have been broadened and instituted with harsher punishments. The most recent law that was put into effect, which will have a significant impact on drivers arrested for a DUI, is the implied consent law, as well as its relationship with the new Driving with an Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level (DUBAL) law. The difference between the DUI laws and DUBAL laws, as well as the changes to Florida’s license suspension regulation, are explained below.

Differences between Florida’s DUI and DUBAL laws

First and foremost, in Florida, a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge is first initiated when a police officer, after pulling a defendant over for probable cause, requests that the defendant submit to a breath, blood, or urine test so as to establish whether the defendant is actually under the influence. The new suspension law permits that if a defendant refuses to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, the license of the driver will automatically and administratively be suspended for a “Refusal to Submit.”

DUBAL occurs when a police officer has pulled over the driver for probable cause and requests that the driver submits to a blood, urine, or breath test, the driver agrees, and his/her results show a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, which is the legal limit.

Automatic Suspension and Implied Consent Law

A driver who refuses to submit or submitted and was found to be DUBAL will have his/her license automatically suspended and he/she will have 10 days to request either a formal or informal hearing so as to contest the suspension of his/her license. This is due to the fact that Florida has an Implied Consent provision within its statutes, which states that driving is a privilege and not a right, and as part of that privilege, if the driver decides to operate a motor vehicle, then he/she is granting to police officers his/her consent to submit to a BAC test, whether it is by blood, urine, or breath.

Implied Consent Law

Implied consent is for all drivers who are not only operating a motor vehicle, but who have actual physical control of the vehicle. The distinction is significant; in the past, Florida case-law permitted the DUI to count toward someone who was not only actually driving the car, but someone, for example, who was asleep and drunk in the driver’s seat.

The new suspension law recently put into place permits that first-time DUBAL or refusal suspension receivers may waive their right to a formal or informal hearing. To qualify, the DUBAL or the refusal suspension must be the driver’s first and he/she may not have a history of any type of DUI conviction or reckless driving conviction in or outside the state of Florida.

The “Hardship License” or “Business Purposes Only” License

The positive side to waiving the right to a formal/informal hearing is that the driver charged may receive a “hardship license” or “business purposes only” license (as long as he or she would be permitted to drive otherwise) until the DUI case goes to court. The hardship license permits drivers the ability to still operate a motor vehicle for school, work, children, or medical necessity, among other reasons. This will also reduce the caseload of the state and hopefully unclog the system so that more difficult and complex cases will have access to the courts.

Criminal Defense Attorney for DUI Cases in Fort Lauderdale

Drivers who refuse to submit may still be charged with a DUI later, but refusing to submit decreases the amount of evidence that can go to your trial. However, your refusal may used as evidence against you stating that you refused because you knew you were intoxicated. It can be very difficult to decide how you would like to proceed with your case but an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik can help. Contact the law offices of Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation of your DUI case.

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