Is Your License Suspended Immediately After a DUI in Florida?

In the state of Florida, a DUI arrest means your license is suspended immediately—but acting fast could save you from further consequences.
Written by John Davis
Edited by R.E. Fulton
, a DUI conviction could have serious repercussions—including the immediate
suspension of your driver’s license
  • A DUI arrest in Florida usually results in an immediate license suspension.
  • Following the arrest, Florida drivers have ten days to request a hearing and challenge the suspension. 
  • Even if your license is suspended, you may still be able to drive with a hardship license or BPO license.

Is your driver’s license suspended immediately after a DUI in Florida?

The short answer is yes—your license will typically be suspended immediately after a DUI in Florida. But the reality of it is a little more complicated than that.
Here’s the long answer: whenever law enforcement stops you on the grounds of suspected driving under the influence, you’ll be given two options. Either you can agree to submit to a breathalyzer test or blood test to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC), or you can refuse.
Here’s the problem—refusing to submit a sample will automatically earn you a 12-month license suspension.
On the other hand, if you consent to submit the sample and your BAC comes back at or above 0.08% (the legal limit for driving in Florida), then you’ll also have your license suspended.
In other words, there’s really no way around it. Whether you consent to the breath test or not, choosing to drink and drive will likely result in a license suspension. Law enforcement is likely to take your license immediately if your BAC is above the legal limit.
So what do you do next?

The 10-day rule

Law enforcement will confiscate your license immediately following a DUI arrest—but the license suspension itself won’t actually take effect until 10 days later. In Florida, this is called the 10-day rule.
For the 10-day period following your DUI charge, your DUI ticket acts as a temporary license. But you’ll only be allowed to drive for business purposes, such as:
  • Driving to and from work
  • Driving to your DUI attorney’s office or to court
  • Driving to the grocery store
  • Driving to church
This 10-day grace period is also the time to challenge your suspension. If you would like to dispute your driver’s license suspension, you must request an administrative hearing before your ten days are up.
Key Takeaway: Florida law dictates the immediate suspension of your license following a DUI arrest. But you’ll have 10 days to challenge the suspension, during which time your DUI citation acts as a stand-in driver’s license.

Can you prevent a license suspension after a DUI? 

In order to avoid a lengthy license suspension, you’ll need to act within 10 days of the arrest. You can contact the
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
(FLHSMV) to challenge the suspension and request a hearing. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be issued a temporary hardship license that lets you continue driving for business purposes only (work, school, etc.).

Other penalties for a DUI in Florida 

A license suspension isn’t the only penalty you could face following a DUI charge. There are several other consequences that come with a conviction—and repeated offenders face even harsher repercussions. 

First offense

A first-time DUI conviction can earn you a license suspension between 6 and 12 months—but if you refuse to submit to a sobriety test, that length of time automatically becomes a year.
In addition to a suspended license, you’ll also face a mandatory fine of at least $500 to $1,000 and the possibility of jail time between 10 days and six months. 

Second offense

If you’re arrested on a DUI charge with prior DUI convictions on your record, you’ll face a significantly longer suspension period—at least five years, to be exact. On top of a five-year suspension, you’ll also face a mandatory 10-day jail sentence and have to pay anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 in fines.

Third offense

A third DUI offense automatically becomes a third-degree felony charge if it occurs within 10 years of a previous drunk driving conviction. Otherwise, it’s considered a third-degree misdemeanor. The consequences for a third DUI offense in Florida include:
  • Fines between $2,000 and $5,000
  • A 30-day mandatory sentence
  • Up to 12 months in jail for misdemeanor charges or up to five years for felony charges 
  • Mandatory 10-year license suspension. Any further DUI charges may result in the permanent revocation of your driver’s license.

How to get a hardship license during a Florida license suspension

You may be issued a
temporary hardship license
if you request a hearing within 10 days of your DUI arrest. But if your court date comes and goes and your lawyer can’t get the administrative suspension of your driver’s license overturned—or if you’re a repeat offender facing a mandatory license revocation—then you’ll have to apply for a hardship license instead.
Also called a “business purposes only” license, or BPO license, your Florida hardship license grants you the ability to retain driving privileges under certain conditions, such as driving to work, school, or the store. But you’ll be limited to driving only to these necessary places—and you’ll have to do so within the curfew of your hardship license.
You must follow these restrictions to the letter. If you’re caught driving outside the bounds of your BPO license, you could face further criminal charges—such as driving without a license—which could come with even harsher consequences.
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