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DUI Suspensions: Separate but not equal

There is much confusion among those facing DUI/DWI charges with respect to the two different types of DL suspensions that can be imposed.

If there is anything more confusing about the DUI/DWI laws than the driver license suspension issues, I haven't seen it. That is because the law makes it confusing. DUI statutes require the DMV to suspend one's license (administratively) just by virtue of being charged with DUI. So, whether or not you blew over the legal limit, or refused the breath, blood or urine test, you're license will be suspended for six to twelve months.

Of course there are exceptions to this general rule. If you blew under the legal limit, your liense will not be suspended by DMV, but the prosecutor can still file the DUI case against you in criminal court. If you were only asked to submit to a urine test, then your license can never be suspended, regardless of what the results are.

The real confusion comes into play after a person has experienced the administrative/DMV suspension already and then goes to court to resolve the criminal DUI case. If convicted, the person's license will be suspended again. "Again" you ask? Yes, again. I know, it sounds like double jeopardy, but it's not. Here's why.

The initial DMV suspension is considered a "civil" penalty, not a criminal sanction. It is not imposed as apart of the criminal DUI prosecution so that is the "end around" if you will. There is a separate DUI statute that governs the criminal case (316.193, Florida). So, if you are convicted of the DUI in court, then you will suffer an additional period of time where your license will be suspended. You may be eligible for a hardship license in certain cases.

For more information on this confusing topic, visit our DUI site, www.firstcoastdui.com. You can also reach us at 904-858-9818.

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