One of the more common questions that our Pinellas County DUI Defense law firm is asked is “what can I use my business purposes only license for?” In many cases, our office is able to secure a hardship license after a client is charged with a DUI offense in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and the surrounding area. This license carries with it a restriction that the client drive for “business purposes only.” Common questions that we are asked are as follows:
- Can I drive my children to school?
- Is it legal to drive to the gym?
- May I drive my child to a medical appointment?
- Will I be arrested if I drive to DUI school?
- Can I drive to the location where I will perform community service hours?
The truth of the matter is, the legislature has not clearly defined those reasons that an individual may drive. Florida Statute 322.01(35) defines a “restriction” as a means of prohibition against operating certain types of motor vehicles or a requirement that a driver comply with certain conditions when driving a motor vehicle. Florida Statute 322.16(b) further provides that “the department may further impose other suitable restrictions on use of the license with respect to time and purpose of use, including, but not limited to, a restriction providing for intrastate operation only, or may impose any other condition or restriction that the department considers necessary for driver improvement, safety, or control of drivers in this state. Lastly, Florida Statute 322.271(1)(c)(1) provides that “a driving privilege restricted to business purposes only” means a driving privilege that is limited to any driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church and for medical purposes.
A Grey Area of the Law
As you can see, there is not a well-defined list of places that a person operating a business purposes only license may drive, outside of work, school, church and medical appointments. The vague nature of the statute raises a number of questions. Does “DUI School” count as “educational purposes?” Is driving my children to school essential for my livelihood such that it would qualify as an education purpose? If my doctor says I need to lose 15 pounds, can I drive to the gym for medical purposes?
A great deal of confusion exists with respect to the lawful use of a DUI hardship license. Given the somewhat vague nature of the statute governing permissible use, it is no wonder that we see a wide variety of interpretations by law enforcement. Even driver’s license office personnel will often offer conflicting opinions as to the extent of the permitted use.
You May Have to Convince a Police Officer that you are Driving for a Lawful Purpose
Imagine this scenario: your church is having a beach baptism ceremony. You drive to this function using your business purpose only license as it is “for church.” On your way home, an officer pulls you over for running a stop sign. When the officer runs your license, he sees that your privilege to drive is restricted to “business purposes only.” You explain to the officer that you are driving home from a church function. There is one problem: you are wearing a bathing suit. In this moment, the officer will make a judgement call: does he believe that you were driving for business purposes only, or does he think that you were violating the BPO restriction. If his decision is the latter, it is possible that you could be arrested for the second-degree misdemeanor offense of Violation of a Driver’s License Restriction pursuant to Florida Statute 322.16(5).
Can I Drive to Purchase Food?
Noticeably absent from the definition of “business purpose only” driving in Florida Statute 322.271(1)(c)(1) is permissive language that allows an individual to drive to purchase food. Certainly obtaining and eating food is necessary for an individual to “maintain livelihood.” There are two cases that illustrate the court’s analysis of this very issue.
In Allart v. State, 9 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 399c (Fla. 6th Cir.Ct.App. June 6, 2002), the Pinellas County Circuit Court reversed the defendant’s conviction for violating his driver’s license restriction for business purpose only driving. The evidence presented in that case established that, at the time that he was stopped by law enforcement, the defendant was driving to a McDonald’s restaurant. Although the Circuit Court initially affirmed this conviction, a subsequent rehearing resulted in a reversal of the conviction, on the basis that the evidence submitted that the defendant was driving for a lawful purpose (ie. Getting food at McDonald’s). In dicta, the Circuit Appellate Court speculated that the defendant was actually driving for a “longer sojourn” than just going to McDonald’s, but such evidence was not before the Court.
In State v. Quiroli, 9 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 780b (Fla. Palm Beach County Ct. September 12, 2002), the defendant was stopped by law enforcement while driving to Burger King to purchase food. At the time of driving, the defendant’s license was restricted to business purpose only driving. The defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the driving at issue was permissible under Florida Statute 322.271. In granting the defendant’s motion, the court reasoned that “driving necessary to maintain livelihood, includes driving necessary to obtain food.”
Tips for Using your Hardship License
If you are driving on a business purposes only license, every time you operate your vehicle you run the risk of being stopped by law enforcement and questioned regarding the legitimacy of your driving purpose. For this reason, we have composed the following list of “tips” for driving on a business purpose only license:
- Never drive after having consumed alcohol. The odor of alcohol on your breath is a dead giveaway that you are not driving for a lawful purpose;
- Always look the part. If you are driving to church, it is probably not wise to be wearing a bikini. If you are going to the grocery store, have a list of groceries on the way there, and bags of groceries on the way home;
- Use direct routes. Don’t let a police officer or the court believe that your driving was part of a longer “sojourn.” If you are going to the grocery store, utilize the store that is closest to your home;
- If you have a job that requires driving to various locations, have an itinerary with addresses handy in the passenger compartment of your vehicle, preferably on your company letterhead; and
- If you are stopped by the police, be polite! Often times, your attitude will be the difference between a formal arrest, or the issuance of a citation.
If You have been Charged with a DUI or Violation of Driver’s License Restriction,
Hire Experienced Attorneys
The attorneys at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan have nearly twenty-five combined years of representing clients on Criminal, DUI and traffic related matters in Pinellas County. Our lawyers regularly appear in front of our local county court judges at the North County Traffic Court facility and the South County Traffic Court facility.
The Law Offices of Russo Pelletier & Sullivan, P.A.
9721 Executive Center Drive North
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
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