We always tell our clients the Florida DUI process involves a DUI DMV hearing on top of a criminal court process. The process at the Department of Highways Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) concerns challenging your license suspension that took effect after your DUI arrest. There is a 10-day period in which a person charged with drunk driving has the opportunity to challenge their license suspension. Not many people understand the process of challenging that license suspension but the process is coming under fire.
The incident that sparked the recent controversy centers around an investigation by WFTV.com. The central Florida news station looked into the people who make the decisions on whether a suspected DUI offender should have his or her license reinstated before going to criminal court on the charges. The station reported that there are no legal qualifications required for the people who make these decisions for the DHSMV and they are paid approximately $25,000 a year. A high school diploma is also not a prerequisite.
The Orlando TV station is reporting that some of the people who rule on these license suspension issues had former careers as cosmetologists and receptionists. That is not sitting well with one family who lost their son to a drunk driver who was sentenced to jail but was able to receive a hardship license following a DUI arrest. The family would like to see the DUI license suspension process taken away from DHSMV officials and put into the court system.
While WFTV quoted one Florida lawyer as saying he would support the move to bring these license suspension hearings into the criminal court system, there was no discussion on how this would affect the court system and how much added burden it would put on judges. There was also no talk on who would hear these cases. The article seemed to imply that the same judge that heard the criminal case would also rule on the administrative hearing over the license suspension. At this point Florida lawmakers have shown no interest in acting to change the way the process works.