DUI Laws in Florida
According to § 316.193, Fla. Stat., a person is guilty of driving under the influence if they are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the point where it impacts their normal capabilities. The legal limit for alcohol consumption while driving is 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
First-Time DUI Penalties
First-time DUI offenders could spend up to six months in jail and pay $500-$1,000 in fines. While these penalties may seem minor compared to other crimes, understand this means you now have a criminal record, which significantly limits your future opportunities.
In addition to jail and fines, you will have your driver’s license revoked for a minimum of 180 days. If your DUI caused bodily injury, the revocation period lasts three years.
First Time Felony DUI Penalties
Under certain circumstances, a first-time DUI offense could be charged as a felony. If your DUI results in serious bodily injury, you could face third-degree felony charges, punishable by up to five years in prison.
A DUI that causes death to a person or unborn child is charged as a second-degree felony, resulting in a mandatory minimum four-year prison sentence. Additionally, your license will be permanently revoked. However, you might be eligible for a hardship license after five years.
If, at the time of the crash, a defendant knew the crash occurred and failed to give information or render aid, they face first-degree felony charges, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
First-Time DUI – Aggravating Factors
While a typical DUI results in a six-month jail sentence and up to $1,000 in fines, there are instances where your penalties could increase. If your DUI causes damage to a property or person, your penalties increase to a first-degree misdemeanor that results in up to one year in jail. When you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or higher and you’re accompanied by a minor at the time of your arrest, you face nine months in prison and fines of $1,000-$2,000.
A first-time DUI conviction could hang over your head long after your sentence is over. You may deal with the following collateral consequences:
- Difficulty finding a stable job
- Higher insurance rates
- You may lose financial aid for college
- You could lose your CDL if you’re a commercial driver
- You lose your right to own a firearm for a felony conviction
- A felon loses the right to vote
- Your immigration status could be threatened
How Long Does a Conviction Stay on Your Record?
A Florida DUI conviction is permanent, and Florida is strict in that it doesn’t allow you to have your criminal conviction expunged. Additionally, Florida’s “look-back” period is five years, which means that a second offense within this timeframe results in more severe penalties. You will face a minimum jail sentence of ten days and a five-year license suspension for a second DUI within five years.
The penalties increase more for a third conviction within ten years. In this case, you would face third-degree felony charges, punishable by 12 months in jail, $2,000-$5,000 in fines, and a mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for two years.
How a DUI Lawyer Can Help Your Case
Since DUIs remain on your record permanently, you must recruit an experienced attorney. Your attorney will challenge everything about the prosecution’s arguments, starting with the initial traffic stop.
Dismissing Your Charges
Police must have probable cause to pull you over and arrest you for a DUI. If this probable cause doesn’t exist, any evidence obtained cannot be used against you in court. Further, a DUI lawyer can discredit the accuracy of breath and field tests, which are often unreliable.
Obtaining a Hardship License
Your DUI might result in a license suspension, preventing you from driving to work, the grocery store, and other places you frequent. Your DUI lawyer could help you apply for a hardship license, which is a restricted license that allows you to drive to specific places, like work, during certain hours. To be eligible for a hardship license, you must attend DUI school first. Your attorney will walk you through this process to ensure you get on the road again.
Your Charges Don’t Define You – Call Today
Even a first-time DUI could have a lasting impact on your life, and you might face more than a six-month jail sentence. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a skilled first-time DUI attorney at Mitkevicius Law, PLLC you can protect yourself and secure the best possible outcome. Contact our office today at 850-361-2142 to schedule your free consultation.
Lead attorney, Josef Mitkevicius, has 10+ years of experience and won’t force you to settle for an unfair deal.