When a person is arrested for DUI, there are two aspects to the case. The person has the right to fight their driver’s license revocation with the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles. On the other side, the person who has been arrested and faces criminal charges, the client has the right to contest those criminal charges.
An Administrative Hearing only takes place if the person arrested or the driver requests a hearing within 10 days of the date of the arrest. The hearing officer, who provides over the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicle’s Hearing, is not a lawyer. Witnesses do not appear at the hearing, unless subpoenaed by the driver.
The paperwork submitted by the police officer may be sufficient to sustain the suspension. There’s no prosecutor or lawyer for the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles involved in the hearing. The Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles only needs to prove the test result of .08 percent or above alcohol level or that the driver refused to submit to the test to sustain the suspension. Ultimate guilt is irrelevant. The ultimate guilt will be contested in the criminal case.
The driver’s presence is not required at the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicle Hearing or even if desirable in most cases. Forms of evidence are relaxed and hearsay is admissable. Hearings must take place within 30 days of the date of the request. So basically within 40 days of the driver’s arrest.
Proof to sustain suspension is by a preponderance of the evidence. Resolution of the matter occurs anywhere from 45 to 180 days from the date of the arrest, meaning the driver will know whether his driver’s license will be suspended or revoked by the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles within 45 to 180 days. At this hearing, the driver is basically asking the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicles to overturn the suspension. The decision rendered stands regardless of the result of the criminal case, unless it involves a breath test and an acquittal at trial.
In the criminal Case, a judge presides over all hearings. Witnesses must appear to testify at trial. The case is prosecuted by the State of Florida. The prosecution must prove that the defendant was either under the influence or had a breath alcohol level of .08 percent or higher. The defendant’s presence is required at trial, but not at soundings or calendar calls.
The rules of evidence are strictly enforced. While a speedy trial must take place within 90 days, it is rarely applicable. The prosecution must prove guilt beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. Case resolution time’s vary widely, from 90 days bare minimum to several months or even years. The average time to resolve a criminal case is usually several months.
Please remember that the Department of Highway and Safety Motor Vehicle’s Administrative Hearing is completely separate from the criminal case in which the defendant has a right to confront all witnesses against him.