Should I Request a Formal Review Hearing for a Florida DUI?
When you are arrested for drunk driving in Florida, law enforcement will immediately confiscate your driver’s license, issue a 10-day temporary driving permit, and forward all arrest information to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). In most cases, the DHSMV will then send you a notice regarding the suspension of your driving privileges. However, this notification does not spell the end of the administrative case involving your driver’s license. You still have the option to request a formal review hearing, at which you challenge the suspension and dispute the arresting officer’s version of the facts.
The formal review hearing may be administrative and separate from your DUI criminal case, but it is still an official proceeding with very serious implications for your driving privileges. Though you will need a skilled Florida DUI defense lawyer to assist with both sides of a drunk driving case, you might find some background information to be useful.
Overview of a Formal Review Hearing: Ultimately, it is a personal choice to request a hearing. The statute requires that you do so within 10 days, so make sure to comply with this key deadline. The formal review hearing will be your first opportunity to challenge drunk driving charges before a hearing officer. The hearing officer is not a judge, but is an employee of the DHSMV who has some training in conducting formal reviews. You will have the right to cross-examine the arresting officers and present other evidence in your favor.
Note that the applicable legal standard in an administrative matter is “preponderance of the evidence” – a far lower burden than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal case. If the hearing officer finds that it is more likely than not that you were drunk driving, your suspension will stay in place.
Waiver of the Formal Review Hearing: If you do not request a hearing or miss the 10-day deadline, you will be waiving your right to do so. Still, when you receive the notification of suspension from the DHSMV, you could be eligible for a restricted license. You can request reinstatement of your driving privileges to drive for work, school, religious, and other specified reasons, sometimes referred to as a “hardship” license
Formal Review Hearing and Your Criminal DUI Case: The administrative case is separate from your criminal drunk driving charges, but there are some benefits that can carry over. The arresting officers give sworn testimony during the formal review hearing, which could be useful to the criminal case if there are contradictions or issues with credibility.
Consult with a Florida DUI Defense Attorney About Your Options
If you were arrested for drunk driving, it is essential that you understand your rights and options through a formal review hearing. By working with an experienced lawyer, you are in a better position to obtain a favorable outcome in the administrative case involving your driver’s license AND criminal DUI charges. To learn how we can help, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney Kevin J. Kulik to schedule a confidential consultation.