If you're a Florida driver's license holder, and you get arrested for DUI in another state, your driver's license might be at risk. The key word here is,'might.' I'm going to tell you why, but it helps to first tell you how a DUI arrest affects your license if you're arrested within Florida. On the date of arrest, the officer will confiscate your license and issue to you a notice of suspension of your license. If you refused to take a breath test, your notice of suspension will indicate that your license will be suspended for one year if this is the first time you've refused testing, and for six months if you took the breath test and blew over the legal limit. This particular suspension will be imposed by Florida's Department of Motor Vehicles, a Florida-specific administrative agency. You will have the opportunity to contest this suspension through the DMV's own process. If you lose your contest, your suspension will remain; however, if you win your contest, the DMV will remove its administrative suspension and give you your license back. You will keep it unless you are ultimately convicted of the DUI charge in court. If that happens, you will lose your license again, but this suspension is imposed by the legislature, not the DMV, as just one of many penalties that come with a DUI conviction. If you avoid conviction in court, you will keep your license.
This brings us to the consequences to your license of a DUI arrest outside of Florida. Florida's DMV will NOT recognize an administrative suspension imposed by another state. For example, if you get arrested for DUI in New York, the DMV there will impose its own administrative suspension; however, Florida will not take any action against your license as the result of New York's action. So, if you ultimately avoid conviction for DUI in New York, you will never lose your license here in Florida, regardless of whether or not you refuse the breath test in New York, or took it, and blew over the legal limit. On the other hand, if you are CONVICTED of ANY alcohol-related driving offense (Driving While Impaired, Driving under the Influence, Reckless Driving with Alcohol, etc.) in a New York court, Florida WILL consider that a DUI for its own purpose and impose a license suspension that will last as long as the term imposed by the state of New York. You will not be able to get your Florida driver's license (or any type of hardship permit) back until you satisfy any and all obligations imposed by that New York court.
Over the course of my 24-year career, I've handled many cases where my clients were arrested for DUI out of state. Getting the Florida license cleared and reinstated can get complicated. If you find yourself in this position, call me today. I may be able to help you get your license back.