If convicted after a trial or if after pleading guilty after losing a dispositive motion you have an automatic right, within 30 days after being sentenced and the sentencing being filed with the Clerk of Courts, to appeal. Failure to file a notice of appeal within 30 days will, as a matter of law, cause you to lose that right.
Administrative License Suspensions
A driver’s license can be administratively revoked by the DMV for a variety of reasons. Drivers who are convicted of certain serious traffic-related offenses like reckless driving, vehicular homicide could face suspension. And, drivers who get several minor tickets within a certain period of time might be looking at license suspension for acquiring to many points
However, not all administrative suspensions require a conviction in criminal or court. Florida DUI implied consent law allows the Department to suspend a driver’s license based only on the arrest for DUI, without a conviction. Usually, any driver who’s arrested for a DUI and either has a Breath Alcohol Content on .08 or higher or who refuses to take a breath, urine or, in some circumstances blood test will suffer an administrative license suspension.
The DUI administrative suspension process is initiated by the arresting officer submitting an affidavit advising the Department that the arrested driver refused or failed a DUI Breath, Urine test to the DHSMV. These administrative suspensions don’t require a trial, judge approval, or a conviction to go into effect.
Suspensions for DUI Convictions
The administrative suspension process is separate from the DUI criminal case. A DUI conviction will also result in license revocation. However, generally, each type of suspension can occur with or without the other. So, avoiding an administrative suspension or a criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t face license suspension.
Fighting and Appealing an Administrative License Suspension
Administrative suspensions go into effect automatically unless the driver requests a hearing. After receiving notice of the suspension, the driver has a limited amount of time (usually somewhere in the range of ten to 14 days) to request a hearing to contest the suspension. The driver normally must submit some sort of formal request for a hearing to the DMV. Typically, requesting a hearing puts the suspension on hold (often called a “stay” of the suspension) until the hearing is complete. If the driver isn’t happy with the outcome of the hearing, there’s generally a way to appeal.
Depending on the reason for the suspension, the administrative hearing might be in-person, over-the-phone, or simply a review of the driver’s record. There person who ultimately decides the hearing (basically, serves as the judge for the hearing) is a DMV commissioner or hearing officer.
For instance, an administrative hearing of a point-related suspension will likely involve only a commissioner reviewing the driver’s record for inaccuracies. Point-related suspensions are fairly straightforward, so there’s typically no need for anyone to present evidence and no room for legal arguments.
DUI hearings, on the other hand, are normally more involved. In most states, the officer must prove that the investigation lawful and the chemical test was administered properly (some states like Kansas place the burden on the driver to prove impropriety). So, at the hearing, the officer will typically testify, and the hearing officer will review any documentation related to the arrest and chemical testing. The driver also has an opportunity to present evidence and challenge any evidence presented by the state. If satisfied the evidence shows the officer had probable cause to arrest the driver, the chemical test was accurate, and the officer followed testing protocol, the hearing officer will likely affirm the suspension. But if there are holes in the evidence or the driver is able to cast enough doubt on the state’s case, the hearing officer might throw out the suspension.
Appealing an Administrative Suspension
If the hearing officer affirms the suspension, the driver can typically appeal to the courts. The process for appealing an administrative license suspension varies by state. But, basically, the appeal gives the driver the opportunity to have a judge review the findings of the administrative commissioner or hearing officer.