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Florida Court Rules Officer Not Required to Attend DUI License Suspension Hearings

Most people know that your license can be suspended when you are convicted of driving under the influence (“DUI”). Few are also aware that there is a process that must be complied with before the defendant’s driver’s license can be suspended. In Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles v. Canalejo, the defendant sought a formal administrative review after his license was suspended pursuant to a DUI conviction.

The attorney for the defendant attempted to issue a subpoena for each officer who was involved with the defendant’s arrest. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, however, sent modified subpoenas requesting telephonic appearances instead.

During the hearing, the defendant offered a video showing the 20-minute waiting period that he endured following his arrest, but he stated that he could not properly authenticate the video without one of the arresting officers present. The defendant’s attorney refused the court’s offer to continue the hearing until a time that the officer could be present, and the hearing officer issued a decision at the hearing. 

Shortly thereafter, the driver filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to quash the decision at the initial hearing. On review to the circuit court, the court determined that the Department failed to comply with due process requirements when it issued a modified subpoena requesting the officer’s telephonic appearance instead of his personal appearance. The court agreed with the defendant’s assertion that the police officer’s presence was a necessary step in authenticating the video, and it remanded the issue.

On remand, both parties failed to issue subpoenas for the second hearing. Although the officer arrived at the hearing in person, technical issues prevented the defendant from playing the video. Once again, the hearing officer upheld the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license. The driver filed a second writ of certiorari, requesting review of the hearing officer’s second decision. The circuit court granted the writ of certiorari and ultimately reversed the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license. In response, the Department sought a writ of certiorari to quash the circuit court’s order.

According to the district court, the Department was not required to authenticate the video during either hearing. Additionally, administrative rules and statutes provided means for authenticating the video that did not require an arresting police officer to be present. Also, the Third District and a number of other Florida districts had previously held that drivers do not possess the right to request that police officers physically attend hearings regarding driver’s license suspensions.

If you are facing DUI charges and may potentially have your license suspended, it is critical that you know your rights. At The Hoffman Firm, our dedicated team of DUI defense lawyers has helped many South Florida residents protect their rights and ensure that they do not face unfair judicial practices and procedures. Based on our experience, we know just how stressful this experience can be for you and your family and will stand by you along each step of the way. We offer a free confidential consultation to help you learn about your rights. Call us now at (305) 249-0090 or contact us online to set up your appointment now.

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Evan A. Hoffman

Evan A. Hoffman

Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.

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