What happens to my driver’s license on my first refusal?

What happens to my driver's license on my first refusal?

What happens to my driver’s license on my first refusal?


Well, things did not go well. You had a couple of drinks, headed home, and got pulled over along the way. Next thing you know, you’ve been arrested for DUI and are in the back of the police car. A million thoughts are going through your head, and that is when the officer asks you a critical question: “Would you be willing to submit to a breath test?” In this post, we will not be going into the question of whether or not you should do a breath test –we will address that in another blog. Here, I want to walk you through what happens to your driver’s license if you choose to refuse to blow for the first time.

Once the officer has arrested you for DUI, they will confiscate your driver’s license. In exchange, they are going to give you a DUI citation. It looks like a ticket you would get for speeding or running a stop sign. Do not lose the DUI ticket! Why? Because it serves as your driver’s license for the next 10 days. The ticket is like a hardship license. It lets you drive to work, to the grocery store, to pick up your kids, meet with your lawyer, anything to “maintain your livelihood.” You can’t drive to your friend’s house to hang out or to the beach to get some sun, but otherwise, you can drive to do the things that we all need to do to keep the lights on and life moving.

During these 10 days, you have a couple of different options. The first is to request a “formal review hearing.” When your license is suspended for refusing a breath test, you have the right to request a trial. This trial is called a “formal review hearing.” The DMV conducts the hearing and will address whether or not the suspension is legal. What does that mean? You have a right to challenge whether the traffic stop and arrest were legal, whether the officer complied with Florida law in requesting the breath test, and whether or not you actually did refuse. If you decide to request a formal review hearing, the DMV will issue you a 42-day temporary driving permit.

We typically issue subpoenas for the officers involved in the case and the video recording from in-car and body cameras. If the arresting officer fails to appear after being subpoenaed, the suspension will be thrown out, and you will get your license back. However, there is a risk to a formal review hearing: if you lose, there will be a 90-day period where you cannot drive a car, no matter what. This is what DUI lawyers call a “hard time” suspension. After 90 days, you will be eligible for a hardship license. Situations where we would ask for a formal review hearing on a first-time DUI-related suspension typically involve out-of-state residents who cannot get a Florida license or people who hold a commercial driver’s license that they rely upon for work.

Florida Law’s 10-Day Window for a Hardship License

Fortunately, Florida law provides another option in the 10-day window following your arrest. Assuming that you have never had an alcohol-related suspension anywhere in the country before, you have the ability to waive your right to a formal review hearing and request an immediate hardship license. This process is called a “waiver eligibility review.” If you qualify for a waiver hardship license, you basically will not go a day without being able to drive. For many people, this is the best option because they cannot afford to risk going three months without being able to get behind the wheel of a car. The application process is simple, and we will provide instructions on obtaining that license. Again, this would be a hardship license that allows you to drive to work and school, pick up the kids, go to the grocery store, and so on.

I cannot stress enough that you must make this decision within 10 days of your arrest. It is a small window of time but a critical one. I recommend contacting a DUI lawyer as quickly as possible following your DUI arrest and refusal so that the attorney can review the arrest report and your driving history and help you make the best decision.

If you have any questions about what the DMV does with your license after a first refusal, give us a call. We are here to talk. Put our experience to work for you,



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