New Legislation Expedites Hardship License Process for DUI Offenders; Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Explains the Benefits

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Recent legislation makes it easier for DUI offenders to obtain a hardship license while awaiting their case resolution. Criminal defense attorney Bill Roelke explains the new law may help both accused individuals and the court system.

A DUI arrest in Florida results in an array of unpleasantness and inconvenience for the alleged offender. The accused individual faces an immediate suspension of their driving privileges. These privileges can be restored by applying for, and obtaining, a special limited purpose driver’s license called a hardship license.

Prior to the recent legislation, an individual could enlist the help of an attorney to seek a hardship license. These special, temporary driving permits are for individuals facing financial hardship or who need to drive for urgent situations such as medical care. A lawyer could request a hardship license hearing to obtain this temporary solution while their client was awaiting their court date.

The newly passed law, however, has created a convenient new option for alleged offenders. A driver accused of DUI in Jacksonville is now able to go to their local Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) office to waive their right to contest their license suspension and immediately apply for a hardship license. They must do so within 10 days of their initial arrest, and they are required to bring certain documents, including a copy of the DUI citation, proof that they have enrolled in an approved DUI class, and payment for the fee.

While this revision to the process of applying for a hardship license will not have any impact on how many DUI cases are filed, Jacksonville, Florida attorney Bill Roelke explained the revised law can expedite the hardship license process for those arrested for DUI.

"In appropriate cases, this legislation will quickly get people whose licenses are suspended as a result of a DUI arrest back to driving. It will also conserve the resources of the DHSMV and the courts. Long, drawn-out processes formerly required to get a hardship license are now streamlined, saving both time and money for everyone," he said.

This amendment basically reverses previous legislation that made it difficult to obtain a hardship license. In the past, a person arrested for DUI had to stay off the roads after a DUI arrest for several months while they sought a hardship license, regardless of any extenuating circumstances or whether they were convicted or acquitted of their crime.

"The system was essentially punishing everyone simply for a DUI arrest, not a conviction, as not being able to drive for an extended period is simply unthinkable for some individuals," Roelke said. He went on to explain many families may be dependent on a single driver for school or employment transportation, and the new law enables them to continue with daily necessities while awaiting resolution of their DUI case.

The Florida criminal defense lawyer went on to observed the strict 10 day period for seeking an expedited hardship license under the new law is often overlooked. He stressed individuals arrested for DUI immediately should seek legal advice as to whether this new option is advisable in their particular case.

“While the new law provides for a quick avenue for those whose licenses are suspended from a DUI arrest to obtain a hardship license, it results in a loss of the ability to challenge the suspension via a formal hearing with the DHSMV. In some cases, that trade-off may be advisable, but in others it may actually harm the person’s main DUI case to forego the formal administrative hearing. Anyone considering the new expedited process for obtaining a hardship license following a DUI arrest should therefore immediately consult with a Jacksonville DUI lawyer before making a final decision.”

Jacksonville criminal defense attorney Bill Roelke represents those facing DUI charges, drug offenses, and other criminal charges in the Jacksonville area. He is committed to providing his clients the personal attention they deserve and to resolving their legal issues quickly so they can move on with their lives with as little stress to them and impact on their futures as possible.

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William Roelke
since: 08/2011
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