For years, Florida along with other states, has used an extra-judicial punitive system to punish individuals arrested for DUI (not convicted of DUI but simply arrested). In Florida, when a police officer arrests you for DUI and you submit to a breath test and have a blood alcohol reading above a .08, your driver license is immediately suspended. Likewise, if you refuse to submit to a breath test your driver license is immediately suspended. This may come as shock to those of you who believe one should not be punished merely because one has been accused but, when it comes DUI, this is the law in Florida.
An individual charged with DUI has the right to challenge this “administrative” suspension but up until today (6/9/2011), you were not able to challenge an administrative suspension based on an unlawful arrest. Today the Florida Supreme Court in Florida Department of Highway safety and Motor Vehicles v. Hernandez, ruled that in refusal cases a defendant can challenge an administrative suspension resulting from an unlawful arrest.
While the whole administrative suspension system continues to be unfair to the accused and a huge waste of money for the state, at least today it got a bit fairer.
Kudos to the Florida Supreme Court for this well reasoned and sensible opinion – now let’s hope the legislature scraps the entire administrative suspension scheme and puts the money to more worthwhile cause – like programs to actually deter impaired driving.
If arrested in the Tampa area and need more information click here.