Florida DUI Laws in 2013: How New Rules May Impact Your Case

In the 2013 Legislative Session, the state of Florida instituted new drunk driving (DUI) laws that became effective on July 1, 2013. These rules apply to the driver’s license suspension and the operation of court-mandated ignition interlock devices, as well as several other administrative concerns. The laws impact only those charged on or after the July 1 implementation of the law.

A Quick Overview of the Changes to Driver’s License Suspensions

Under previous DUI laws, a first-time offender would face a hard suspension for a period of 30 days for BAC of .08 or higher or 90 days for refusing a BAC test. A hard suspension of the driver’s license means the individual cannot drive at all, not even under a hardship license. This is an administrative penalty, as opposed to a criminal penalty.

First-time DUI offenders – and those who were suspected of DUI but declined to submit to a Breathalyzer test – now have several options when seeking to avoid a hard suspension.

A person convicted of DUI may now request one of the following

  • a formal administrative review hearing to assess the suspension;
  • an informal administrative review hearing to assess the suspension; or
  • to waive the right to a hearing in favor of requesting review for an business purposes only driving allowance (this hardship license provides very limited driving privileges). 

Once a person has requested a formal administrative review, he or she may not ask to waive that right in lieu of his or her hopes of earning a business purposes only license. The hearing must be requested “within 10 days after the date of issuance of the notice of suspension,” according to the new law.

What is a Business Purposes Only driver’s license?

A Business Purposes Only driver’s license is a form of so-called “hardship license.” It provides limited driving privileges that include getting to and from a place of employment and other job-related driving duties.

Driving is also permitted for: 

  • medical purposes;
  • driving for church; and
  • education-related purposes. 

This permit is allowed only under the supervision of a licensed DUI program.

How Deadlines Impact a DUI Suspect’s Case and Right to Due Process 

The state asserts that most suspects who request a formal review are denied the reversal of the driver’s license suspension. Therefore, the state argues, waiving the review gives suspects a better shot at getting at least some driving privileges.

This may sway some DUI suspects to opt for what seems like the fastest and easiest choice, particularly if the person is concerned about maintaining employment.

Waiving the right to a hearing presents special concerns for any DUI defense. Tight timelines give the DUI suspect and defense little time to assess the overall case and the most prudent course of action.

A Quick Overview of the Ignition Interlock Device Changes

State-mandated ignition interlock devices – which are a requirement in many DUI convictions – also were included in the new set of DUI laws that went into effect in July. The required statewide preset for the devices was lowered from .05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .025 BAC. Individual courts maintain the right to set individual levels. 

If you’ve been charged with DUI and would like a better understanding of your rights, contact a criminal defense attorney. Call 877-663-5110.