Two Sides to Every Story: Difference Between The Administrative and Criminal Sides of DUI

Given the nature of DUI and the fact that it affects people from all walks of life, the stakes are extremely high for those charged with drunk driving. In addition to the social stigma associated with the crime of drunk driving, a criminal charge for DUI carries additional consequences such as jail time, driver’s license suspensions, professional licensing and educational ramifications among other things.

When a person is arrested for DUI, time is of the essence. A person is allowed to continue driving for 10 days using their citation as a temporary driver’s license. However, in order to continue driving beyond the 10 days with a temporary permit, one must file a notice to appeal or challenge the administrative suspension of their driving privileges within 10 days.

Unlike other criminal charges, DUI cases are heard in two different forums. This is where confusion sets in for most people. In DUI, the criminal and administrative sides are independent of one another.

On the criminal side, the State of Florida, the government, has the burden of proving your guilt beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. The state will introduce evidence in an attempt to prove that you were (1) in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within the state and (2) the person is impaired, either by alcohol or controlled substances, to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired or they have a breath alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. In a criminal prosecution your lawyer will defend your case against the State of Florida and the assistant state attorney assigned to prosecute you before a judge.

On the administrative side, your driving privileges can be suspended if you were driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher or it is shown that you refused to take such a test. For a first DUI, a person’s license can be suspended for six (6) months if they were driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher and can be suspended for one (1) year if they refused to take a test. In an administrative hearing your lawyer will represent you before a hearing officer, who is not necessarily a lawyer or judge, by asking questions of the police officers involved in your case.

If the hearing officer determines that you were driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher or otherwise refused to take such a test and there was probable cause to stop and arrest you, your license is likely to be suspended for a period of time depending on the circumstances of your case.

Because driving is a privilege and not a right in the State of Florida, the government can suspend your driving privileges without some of the safeguards that are afforded to you in a criminal prosecution. However, the administrative suspension of your driver’s license is subject to a hearing if one is requested, by you or your lawyer, within 10 days of arrest. If you or someone you love has been arrested for DUI it is imperative that you contact a Miami DUI lawyer so that a formal review hearing can be requested on your behalf.

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