Written by attorney Yekaterina Mesic

The first 10 days after a DUI arrest: what are your options?

I always get the question of "what is the 10 day rule?" in Florida. I think there is a lot of confusion about this, so let me give you a quick explanation. When you are arrested for DUI, you will receive a citation which will serve as your driver license for 10 days, but you only have 10 days to challenge the administrative suspension. This means that you have to apply for a hearing within the first 10 days after the arrest for DUI.

On July 1, 2013, the law on formal administrative hearings in DUI cases changed. It used to be that the person accused of DUI had 10 days to request a formal review hearing on the administrative suspension of his license (remember if you blow above .08 or refuse, the DMV will suspend your Florida license). If your did request a hearing, you got a permit to drive for 45 days and then if the suspension was upheld, it was revoked. The difficult part for most people was the "hard time" that was mandatory without a license. On a .08 suspension it is 30 days and on a refusal it is 90 days. The new law under Florida Statute 322.2615(6) now gives another option to the person arrested for DUI. As discussed above, before we always would challenge a DUI suspension, now the DUI defendants will have to make a choice. The options are as follows: 1. Waive your right to challenge the suspension, so essentially agree that in the administrative suspension setting, that you either blew above .08 (6 month suspension) or refused to take the breath test (1 year suspension). But in return, you will not have to serve the "hard time" suspension of your driver license, so you can get the hardship license right away. The hardship license is the Business Purposes Only License (work, school, church and medical purposes). The obvious advantage is the opportunity to keep your driver license during the pending case. However, the problem with this option is the fact that the person is giving up the right to challenge the suspension, learn more information about the case, and the suspension becomes part of your permanent driving record. 2. The person chooses to challenge the administrative suspension, and if the suspension is upheld, there is still the 30 day "hard time" requirement, where the person cannot drive at all. The big difference in the new law is that if the Arresting Officer or the Breath Test Operator, that are subpoenaed to the hearing, do not show up, the driver license suspension will be invalidated. Before the officers would just ignore the subpoena and had 48 hours to show good cause why they did not show up. The choice is yours. Clients are always in a very difficult situation with a DUI, and driving is one of their main concerns.

Remember that there are 2 types of suspensions in a DUI case. The first is a suspension that comes into effect if you enter a plea for a DUI (on a first DUI, it is for 6 months). The second is the administrative suspension that comes into effect upon a refusal of a breath test or if the results of the breath test are above .08 - that is the administrative suspension where the 10 day rule applies. This suspension is also for 6 months. Also, another confusing point is the driving right after the arrest for DUI. In most cases, the officer will give you a DUI citation, as mentioned above, that has the driving permit language on it. If you got one of those, it serves as the 10 day driving permit, since the officers confiscate the driver license when the person is arrested. The permit will expire on the 10th day and the administrative suspension will begin. They can also write you a citation that only has the DUI box checked off, i.e. does not talk about the temporary driving permit. If that happened, than you will need to got to the DMV office and get a 10 driving permit there. If your license were to be suspended for a criminal suspension after a conviction or a plea, here are the suspension period that apply to first and second time offenders:

  1. First Conviction: Minimum of a 180 days revocation, maximum of 1 year.

  2. Second Conviction within 5 years: Minimum 5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 1 year. If outside the 5 years, than would be the same as the first conviction suspension.

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