Bureau of Administrative Reviews – Tampa Office
The Tampa Office of the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) is opened on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless posted otherwise. The BAR is part of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (often called the DHSMV or the DMV).Tampa Office of the Bureau of Administrative Reviews DHSMV
2814 East Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL 33610
After a DUI Arrest in Hillsborough County, you only have 10 days to file a demand for a FORMAL review hearing to contest the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.
Requesting the administrative suspension will also allow you to immediately obtain the 42-day driving permit so that you can continue to drive for hardship purposes while the suspension is being contested.
Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in DUI Cases.
The Reorganization of the Bureau of Administrative Reviews
Big changes are occurring at the Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR) offices throughout Florida. The DHSMV just announced that it would close 8 of the 16 offices. The remaining eight (8) BAR offices are now responsible for all of the counties in Florida.
The restructuring plan was the result, in part, of a research report concerning the “Statewide Reorganization of the Bureau of Administrative Reviews” prepared for the DHSMV by a gubernatorial fellow, Joshua Winograd, Class XIII.
In addition to closing half of the BAR offices, the report found that hiring and training was inadequate. As a result, the report recommended that only “attorney hearing officers” should be conducting formal review hearings. As a result, the BAR in Tampa now has two “Assistant General Counsel” hearing officers.
Read the full report here:
The recommendations are projected to save the State of Florida at least $1,500,000.00. The transition is expected to require one full year to complete. As a result, the DHSMV closed the following BAR offices – Dayton Beach, Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Lantana, Melbourne, Panama City, and Winter Springs.
Both the Tampa BAR and the Clearwater BAR will remain open. The Tampa BAR handles DUI cases for all of Hillsborough County, Hernando County, Citrus County, Marion County, Pasco County, Polk County, and Sumter County.
Benefits of Contesting the Administrative Suspension
At Sammis Law Firm, we ALWAYS recommend our client demand a formal review hearing instead of waiving all their rights to contest the administrative suspension.
Your goal is getting the administrative suspension invalidated so that it is immediately removed from your driving record. If the arresting officer or breath test officer “fail to appear” at the hearing then your suspension will be invalidated. Procedural mistakes or a lack of evidence might also cause the suspension to be invalidated.
If you don’t contest the suspension during a formal review hearing, then you have NO chance of getting the suspension invalidated. It the suspension is not invalidated then it will remain on your driving record for the next 75 years (even if you avoid a DUI conviction in court).
Other benefits of demanding the formal review hearing include being able to question all of the witnesses in your case under oath. That testimony becomes extremely important in fighting your criminal charges in court.
Never waive your right to a formal review hearing until after you have spoken to an experienced criminal defense attorney and understand the important rights that you are giving up.
Call (813) 250-0500 to speak with an experienced DUI Defense Attorney in Tampa, FL, today.
Don’t Waive Your Rights for an Immediate Hardship
Alternatively, if you have no prior DUI arrest then you can waive all your rights, stipulate that you were DUI for administrative purposes, and obtain a “hardship” license immediately. The DHSMV calls this a “waiver review hearing” which is a hearing to make sure you are waiving your rights.
When you fail to request the formal review hearing, the notation of this DUI suspension will stay on your driving record for the next 75 years.
The only benefit of waiving all your rights during the “waiver review hearing” is being able to get a hardship license to avoid the possible 30 or 90-day hard suspension.
You must also appear at the Bureau of Administrative Review in Tampa, FL, to obtain a hardship license and waive your rights. When you go to the Bureau of Administrative Review Office for a hardship license after an administrative suspension, be sure to bring proof of enrollment in the DUI school and a 30 Day Traffic Search with you. For the court ordered suspension after a DUI conviction, you must bring proof of completion of the DUI School.
Do not drive yourself to the hardship hearing because the hearing officer will ask you how you got to the office. Also, if the hearing officer observes you driving when your privileges are suspended or revoked then you will be denied a hardship license.
The bottom line is that if you can survive a 30 or 90-day hard suspension (as a worst-case scenario if you lose the formal review hearing) then you are better off demanding a formal review hearing.
DUI Formal Administrative Reviews in Tampa, FL
Florida Statute 322.2615 allows for the administrative suspension of a driver license when the driver:
- has an unlawful blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of .08 or above; or
- the driver refuses to submit to a lawful breath, blood or urine test.
Different rules apply to a person under the age of 21 who is accused under Florida’s zero-tolerance laws or commercial driver subject to disqualification of their CDL.
This article explains how hearing officers prepare and conduct formal review hearings pursuant to Chapter 15A-6 of the Florida Administrative Code and section 322.2615, Florida Statutes.
Preparing for the Formal Review Hearing
To Prepare for the Formal Review Hearing, the hearing officer will locate the file and review the paperwork to determine whether the hearing will be held for a DUBAL (driving under a breath/blood alcohol level) or a REFUSAL suspension. The hearing officer will identify potential issues pertaining to the scope of the review.
The hearing officer will review the pre-hearing statement for witnesses and any written requests for continuances or pre-hearing motions submitted by the driver or the attorney of record.
In a DUBAL case, the hearing officer will determine which instrument was used by looking at the Breath Test Affidavit and then verifying that there is a current copy of the Agency Inspection in the file.
Conducting the Formal Review Hearing
The hearing officer will record the hearing and read the formal review script for the appropriate type of suspension (either a DUBAL or Refusal). If the subpoenaed witnesses are not present, the hearing officer will ask for proof of service from the attorney/driver and whether written notice was provided to the state attorney.
The written notice to the state attorney must include a copy of the issued subpoena and it must be served after the subpoena is issued but before it is served on the witness.
If a continuance is granted, the driver/attorney will be notified of the new hearing date by mail. If the continuance is granted then the evidentiary portion of the hearing will not be closed.
The Order from the Formal Review Hearing
After all of the evidence is presented at the formal review hearing, the hearing officer will consider all of the evidence, the weight of the evidence and the credibility of the testimony. If submitted, the hearing officer will also review case law. The hearing officer will determine whether a preponderance of the evidence supports the suspension.
If the review is sustained, the hearing officer will type up the order. The driver/attorney has thirty days from the date of the Final Order to file a petition for writ of certiorari to the Circuit Court.
Writ of Certiorari from the DUI Formal Review Hearing
After a DUI Formal Review Hearing, a Writ of Certiorari is issued when a court agrees to review the proceedings of a lower court or hearing officer to determine:
- whether procedural due process was afforded;
- whether the essential requirements of law have been observed; and
- whether the administrative findings and judgment are supported by competent substantial evidence.
The driver/attorney must file the petition within thirty-days from the date the final order of suspension was rendered. Once the petition is received, the Office of General Counsel will review it. They will request a copy of the contents of the case file from the appropriate BAR office. The Office of General Counsel will then verify the timeliness, elements, and substance of the issues.
The Circuit Court then makes a decision to grant, deny, or remand the case. Copies are then supplied to the field office of the findings. If General Counsel believes the court erred in ruling, it may file a petition for writ of certiorari with the District Court of Appeals to review the Circuit Court’s decision.
If the review is invalidated then the suspension is deleted from the driving record. All correspondence will be deleted except for a notation of the filing fee being paid, the formal review hearing being held, and the temporary permit being issued.
Statistics on Hearings at Florida’s Bureau of Administrative Reviews
The Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR) is authorized to conduct hearings and reviews for the purpose of determining eligibility to reinstate driver license suspensions and revocations under Section 322.2615, Florida Statutes (F.S.), Section 322.2616, F.S., Section 322.271, F.S., and Section 322.64, F.S.
The Bureau of Administrative Reviews is a part of the Office of General Counsel. At last count, the BAR was comprised of 116 supervisors, hearing officers, and administrative secretaries.
These employees work in 16 offices separated into three regions around the State of Florida. From July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015, BAR conducted a total of 87,515 hearings and reviews and received $1,570,033 in BAR related fees.
BAR conducts administrative reviews and hearings for a variety of issues. Most hearings are for issues related to driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level or refusal to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. Hearings and reviews include but are not limited to:
- Formal Review Hearings – allows the driver to challenge the suspension or revocation of their driving privilege. Counsel and witnesses may be present;
- Informal Review Hearings – allows the driver to request a hearing officer review all materials in the case file to challenge the suspension or revocation of their driving privilege. Only the hearing officer is present during this review;
- Hardship Hearings – allows the driver to request a business or employment restricted license because the suspension or revocation of their driving privilege is causing undue hardship;
- Show Cause Hearings – allows the driver an opportunity to present evidence why a certain entry or action should not appear on the driving record;
- Financial Responsibility Hearings – determines whether the applicant is within the scope of the Financial Responsibility Law of the State;
- Medical Hearings – available to those whose driving privilege has been suspended or revoked for medical reasons; and
- Re-Examinations – generated when the Department receives a report that questions the mental or physical ability of a person to operate a motor vehicle safely.
The orders issued by the BAR are strictly administrative. The ruling holds no merit against criminal proceedings. If a BAR hearing officer invalidates the suspension of a driver license, it is possible that the criminal court could revoke the license when the criminal proceeding is finalized.
BAR hearing officers are required to conduct comprehensive training. The training consists of two phases. The first covers hardship hearings. Two months after completion of phase one, hearing officers conduct phase two which covers administrative reviews.
Each phase is approximately a week-long training session conducted by BAR supervisors. Additionally, in between phases, hearing officers assist in the hearing and review process to gain valuable knowledge and experience.
The BAR’s Review and Hearing Process
BAR receives arrest packets relating to the suspension and revocation of driver licenses from law enforcement agencies. Once received, BAR reviews the packets for accuracy and compliance. These packets are retained for a minimum of 120 days. The packets include all of the arrest documents (if received), as well as all BAR correspondence.
If a review or hearing is requested from the driver, BAR schedules the administrative case within the BAR database (GOBI). GOBI is an access database utilized by all BAR members. It serves as a tracking system for all hearings and reviews. BAR members can create, update, delete, and run reports for BAR cases within GOBI.
Section 322.2615, F.S., states once an administrative review is held, hearing officers must submit their final order within seven working days. Once the order is determined, hearing officers will update GOBI. The hearing officer will also update the Florida Driver License Information System (FDLIS), which serves as the official driving record.
All hearings and reviews with the driver or witnesses present are recorded and placed in network drives specific for each BAR office. BAR processes transactions for all administrative hearings and reviews and they have the ability to process the fees for reinstatement of the driver license. Drivers requesting an administrative review are required to pay $25, while those requesting a hardship hearing are required to pay $12.
Drivers are required to pay the BAR fees prior to their hearings and reviews.
- Section 322.2616, F.S., gives BAR the authority to conduct formal and informal reviews for drivers under the age of 21 who were arrested for driving with an unlawful blood- alcohol or breath-alcohol level, or refusal to submit to a test to determine their blood- alcohol or breath-alcohol level.
- Section 322.271, F.S., gives BAR the authority to issue hardship driver licenses for business or employment purposes. A driver who had their license suspended can request a hardship hearing. By opting for a hardship license, the driver does not contest the suspension or revocation of their license. Instead, they petition the Department for a restricted-use license because of the hardship the loss of their driving privilege has caused them. Most hardship license applications are approved and the decision is given to the driver at the conclusion of the hearing. In order to apply for a hardship driver license, a driver must complete or enroll in a driver training course or driving under the influence program substance abuse course. Once completed, the information is updated by the course provider and electronically sent to the Department. Nightly, the driving record of attendees is updated and can be tracked within Department systems.
- Section 322.64, F.S., gives BAR the authority to conduct formal and informal reviews for holders of commercial driver licenses that were disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle due to driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level, or refusal to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test.
History of Florida Bureau of Administrative Reviews
In 1996, the Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR) was created from BDI. In 1997, Florida Statute 322.2616 was enacted allowing for the administrative suspension of the driver license of any person under the age of 21 found to be driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with a breath alcohol level of 0.02 or higher.
Florida Statute 322.2615 was amended in 1996 to more clearly define the scope of the review for an administrative hearing and to further define the authority of a hearing officer to subpoena witnesses for an administrative review.
Criticism of the Bureau of Administrative Reviews
How can you receive a fair and impartial hearing from a neutral and detached hearing officer when they work for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV)? Good question.
The DHSMV is a party to administrative law cases involving the suspension or revocation of a Florida driver’s license. The Department’s Bureau of Administrative Review (B.A.R.) is also responsible for hiring, selecting, and assigning non-lawyer hearing officers to preside over the review hearings, receive testimony and evidence, determine the facts, and reach conclusions of law.
The dual role of the DHSMV creates concern among drivers who appear before a hearing officer. Many believe the dual role creates an actual impropriety or, at a minimum, the appearance of impropriety. The driver can argue that the combination of investigative and adjudicative functions in the DHSMV necessarily creates an unconstitutional risk of bias in an administrative agency.
Record Update from the Florida Bureau of Administrative Reviews
After a notice of suspension is received by the HSMV, the HSMV will update the records on BarNet in the GOBI Database. (often called “the GOBI/BAR database”).
The Administrative Reviews website BarNet section allows the hearing officer to updated record date, update record DL number, update record name, run daily reports, schedule events, or add a new hearing date. The hearing officer imputes the following information:
- Date of Hearing:
- Time of Hearing:
- Hearing Officer:
- Continued From and By (1st):
- Continued From and By (2nd):
- Continued From and By (3rd):
- Continued From and By (4th):
- Name of Driver:
- DL Number:
- Hearing Held:
- Type of Hearing: (Formal Review Hearing, Information Review Hearing, Waiver Hearing)
- Telephonic Hearing
- Results of Hearing
- Adm Sus Type
- Date Auth/Denl Iss or FIN ORD MLD:
- Hardship Hearing Type:
- DUI Count:
- Reason for Invalidation:
- Arrest / Suspension County:
- Agency Type:
- Agency Name:
- Arresting Officers Name:
- Writ Filed:
- Overturn by Court:
- Invalidated on a Motion to Correct Record:
- Date Amended Order Issued:
- Additional Information:
Eight Locations of the Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR)
* Unless otherwise noted, each office is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
|City||Address||Zip Code||Public Phone Number|
|BAR in Clearwater
for Charlotte, DeSoto, Highlands, Hardee, Manatee, Pinellas, Sarasota
|4585 – 140th Avenue, North, Suite 1002
|BAR in Tampa
for Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Polk Sumter
|2814 East Hillsborough Avenue
|BAR in Jacksonville
for Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Union, Volusia
|7439 Wilson Blvd.
|BAR in Lauderdale Lakes for Broward County
for Broward, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Palm Beach
|3718-3 W. Oakland Park Blvd
|BAR in Miami
for Collier, Miami-Dade, Monroe
|7795 W. Flagler Street, Suite 82C
|BAR in Orlando
for Brevard, Indian River, Lake, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, St. Lucie, Seminole
|4101 Clarcona-Ocoee Road
|BAR in Pensacola
for Bay, Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, Washington
|100 Stumpfield Road
|BAR in Tallahassee
for Calhoun, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla
|2900 Apalachee Parkway
Through a public records request, we were able to obtain the training materials for hearing officers conducting formal review hearings and other types of hearings at the Bureau of Administrative Reviews Office in Tampa, FL, and the surrounding areas. Those training materials included:
- 08 Under 21 Zero Tolerance DUI under 322.2616
- 09 CDL Disqualifications
- 10 DUI Blood Cases
- DUBAL Disqualification Script (Revised 8-15)
- DUBAL Refusal Disqualification Script (Revised 8-15)
- DUBAL Suspension and Disqualification (Revised 8-15)
- Example Proof of Service
- OLD PIII-T7-PP BAR Forms
- PI-T7-PPT Scheduling Formal Informal Reviews
- PI-T8-PPT Rule 15A-6 Formal Reviews
- PI-T10-H1 Hardship Reinstatement Eligibility Requirements Rev 02-01-2017
- PI-T10-PPT Hardship Eligibility
- PII-T2-HO1 Checklist of Codes-Hardships (rev 2-15-2017)
- PII-T2-PPT Coding Administrative Hearings
- PII-T3-HO1 Review Waiver Script
- PII-T3-PPT Review Waiver
- PIII-T2-PP Rule 15A-6 Overview (Rev 4-17)
- PIII-T3-PP 11D-8 FAC (Rev 4-17)
- PIII-T6-HO2 Checklist of Codes – Formals_Informals (Rev. 4-10-17)
- PIII-T6-PP Conducting a Formal Review
This article was last updated by Leslie Sammis on Monday, July 12, 2019.