Two Orlando, Florida-based attorneys, David Oliver and Stuart Hyman, are filing a class action lawsuit against the state for violating a variety of constitutional rights of DUI suspects. The suit was filed in Orlando federal court. It names the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, along with its executive director Terry Rhodes.
The suit itself is filed on behalf of Alfredo Crespin, 58, from Winter Garden. Crespin was arrested on suspicion of DUI in November 2015. However, if the class action lawsuit is accepted by the federal courts, it could represent more than 240,000 people. That number includes all suspects whose licenses were suspended by the department because of a DUI arrest in the last four years.
Oliver and Hyman, in the suit, are challenging the ways in which the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles handles DUI suspects, specifically the suspension of licenses. Currently under Florida law, when a driver is arrested by an officer on suspicion of DUI, they confiscate their license. The license is immediately suspended at that point. This is automatic with no review by police officers or a judge. Under the lawsuit, Oliver and Hyman are questioning whether this is in violation of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
Oliver has explained that if a police officer wants to search your home, they can’t just search your home. They have to get a warrant to search your home under the law and the protection of the 14th Amendment. When it comes to confiscating and automatically suspending your driver’s license, the same logic should apply according to the class action lawsuit.
Since DUI suspects typically are looked down upon by law enforcement and the public, many DUI defense attorneys already believe there is a bias against their clients. This leads to conflicts at all levels of the judicial process, and Florida’s current law is just another example of automatic judgment being handed out without due process.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has made no statement about the lawsuit.