With a recent change in Florida law, DUI-arrested drunk drivers may apply for their own hardship license to allow them to get to work.
Florida is deadly serious about not drinking and driving, and if caught, the driver gets an immediate license suspension. That is inconvenient for sure, but overall that is the least of an offender’s worries, should they be caught more than once.
Being without a license means not having a way to get to work. Now, instead of hiring a criminal defense lawyer to help you obtain a hardship license, you may apply for one on your own. A hardship license is a special, limited purpose driver’s permit, usually only applicable in certain circumstances, such as getting to work or needing to attend medical therapy of some sort (e.g., dialysis) on a regular basis.
Before this law was passed, a criminal defense attorney could request a hardship license be issued while their client was waiting for their day in court. Now, an accused may head down to a local Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), waive their right to contest the license suspension, and apply for a hardship license immediately. This must be done within ten days of being arrested, and the offender must bring a copy of their DUI citation, show proof they have registered in approved DUI classes, and pay a fee.
Inherent in waiving their right to contest the license suspension is an admission of guilt. Most good criminal defense attorneys would not advise their clients to do something that may incriminate them, and this new development in the area of DUI enforcement is a wrinkle with potential glitches, particularly when it comes to an alleged drunk driver’s rights.
Most people do not understand that if they waive a right, thinking it just means they get a license faster and can get on with their lives, that they have admitted their guilt, when in fact they may not be guilty of driving under the influence. There are medications that mimic the symptoms of DUI.
Just because someone was issued with a DUI citation does not mean they were driving while under the influence, does not mean the citation was issued in accordance with all departmental policy, does not mean the roadside breathalyzer was working properly, and does not mean the officer administering the tests was properly trained in the correct methods of using the equipment.
It remains to be seen if this new nod to expediency is anything more than a speedy rush to justice without the right to be duly represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney, with an eye to protecting falsely accused drunk drivers. Those who have been arrested for DUI should seek legal advice on whether this new law is in their best interests before they go apply for such a license.