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How to Get a Hardship License in Florida After a DUI

The wide array of possible penalties and associated with a DUI arrest and conviction covers everything from DUI school and ignition interlock devices to jail or even prison. The first penalty the accused often suffers, often as early as ten days after the DUI arrest, is the loss of the ability to drive due to a suspended license.

Rules for a License Suspension

In a Tampa or Pasco DUI case, a license suspension may come from either the DMV itself, the criminal courts, or both. The DMV, or administrative suspension, always comes first. The DMV will suspend your license within ten days of your DUI arrest if one of two things happen:

  1. There is evidence that your BAC is above a .08, or
  2. You refused to submit to a breath test, or of your blood or urine.
…while the DMV suspends your license, the person with the most power is the arresting officer.

Now, while the DMV suspends your license, the person with the most power is the arresting officer. If he lets the DMV know after your arrest that he thinks one of the two conditions above has been met, then the drivers license bureau will automatically suspend your driver’s license ten days after your arrest.

A BAC above a .08 gets you a 6 month suspension the first time, and a 12 month suspension the second time. A refusal gets you a 12 month suspension the first time, and 18 months the second time.

Requesting a Formal Review

Thanks to your right to due process under the law, your Tampa or Pasco DUI lawyer can request a formal review of the officers decision on your behalf.  When the DUI lawyer requests that hearing, he can obtain on your behalf a hardship permit that lets you continue to drive pending the outcome of your hearing. This is the first opportunity to get a hardship license.

Now that hardship license is only good for an extra 42 days. During that time, the DUI lawyer will obtain the police reports, affidavits, intoxilyzer inspection and maintenance logs, and all the evidence necessary to prepare for the formal review hearing.

If your Tampa DUI attorney can successfully argue that the police lacked probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence, or that the officer did not substantially comply with the rules regulating the blood, breath, or urine test, then the administrative suspension will be set aside, and your full driving privileges will be restored.

Hard Suspension

However, if the suspension is sustained, the hardship license will be taken away, and a period of “hard suspension” will begin. A “hard suspension” is a period of time during your regular license suspension when, no matter what your Tampa or Pasco DUI Attorney says or does, no hardship license will be issued. You legally cannot drive, period.

The length of the hard suspension for a BAC over a .08 is 30 days. At the end of 30 days, you will be eligible for a hardship permit (again), provided you can show proof of enrollment in DUI school. Your Tampa DUI attorney will set up a hardship license hearing for you, hopefully on the first day that you are eligible for a hardship permit.

Refusal Suspension

A refusal suspension carries a hard suspension of 90 days for a first refusal, and eighteen months for a second refusal. That means if you are arrested for a DUI and refuse, and you had previously refused a test of your BAC on another occasion, you will be ineligible for a hardship permit for the entire length of your administrative suspension.

If it’s your first DUI conviction, the suspension is for 6 months to 1 year.


It should be noted that the suspension issues outlined above only deal with the administrative, or DMV side of things. If you go to court and ultimately plead to your DUI charge, you will suffer another separate and distinct suspension of your license, this time at the direction of the presiding judge. If it’s your first DUI conviction, the suspension is for 6 months to 1 year.

If you had previously received a hardship license to keep you driving during your administrative suspension, it will be taken away! The drivers license bureau requires you to go back and reapply to get your hardship back. Only this time, you will need to have completed any DUI school and treatment if necessary before they give you a hardship permit.

Our Tampa DUI attorneys realize this, and will help you coordinate the completion of any DUI school before your case is resolve to keep you on the road.

Keep in mind, this criminal court suspension only applies if you are convicted of a DUI.  A reduction of the DUI to reckless driving, a not guilty at trial, or an outright dismissal will keep the Judge from suspending your license.