Working With Clients Who Have Prior DUI Convictions in Florida
When you’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI (driving under the influence) and subsequently arrested, you may not know all your options. Although even a first-time DUI arrest should not be taken lightly, being charged with multiple DUI offenses can dramatically increase the significance of the legal consequences. Because offenders often commit multiple DUIs, prosecutors and the law penalize repeat offenders with increasingly severe punishments. If you’re charged with DUI, your life can be upended. You might lose your license for an extended period of time, pay fines, or face imprisonment. These penalties are intended to prevent you from ever again driving while intoxicated. Therefore, the punishments can impact the lives of repeat offenders in drastic and permanent ways.
If you are faced with a DUI charge and have one or more prior DUI convictions on your record, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney without delay. The consequences of multiple DUIs are typically much more serious. Working with a skilled DUI defense lawyer can help reduce the potential damage these charges have on your life. If you have been arrested for DUI in the Gainesville, Ocala, or Levy County, Florida area, call Meldon Law today to learn how we can help.
Multiple DUI Offenses Lead to Increased Penalties
When you are convicted of a first DUI in Florida, penalties can potentially include six months in jail and fines from $500 to $1,000. These penalties can be a bit more serious if your BAC (blood alcohol content) registered above 0.15 percent. If so, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department may suspend your license to operate a vehicle for 180 days to one year. Additionally, the court might determine that you need to participate in probation for up to a year.
A first DUI conviction can be a challenge to overcome, but multiple DUIs bring even more serious penalties, especially if you are charged for another offense within a certain time period. This is called a “look-back” period. The look-back period becomes significant when you are charged with a second or third DUI offense. If your first offense occurred within the look-back period, your penalties can significantly increase and you could be faced with mandatory minimum penalties if you are actually found guilty of the subsequent DUI charge. When it comes to the fourth (or greater) DUI conviction, the look-back limit disappears and all prior convictions count. In other words, the penalties for your fourth and any subsequent DUI conviction are automatically more serious, regardless of the amount of time that has passed since the prior convictions. Examples of potential penalties that defendants who are charged with multiple DUI offenses face include:
- Second DUI Offense – For a second DUI offense, the look-back period is five years. That said, if you’re convicted of the same offense again within five years, the penalties increase substantially. You could be facing up to nine months in jail, $2,000 of fines, and the suspension of your driver’s license for five years. Certain circumstances can increase these penalties further. For example, if you were driving with a minor in your car, your BAC was especially high, or if other people sustained injuries due to your DUI, the consequences may be even more severe.
- Third DUI Offense – With a third DUI, the look-back period increases to ten years. This means that if you are charged with a third DUI within ten years of your first and second offenses, the penalties increase even more. You potentially will lose your license for ten years, you’ll face a mandatory 30 days in jail (which, depending on the circumstances, could actually be increased to an entire 12 months), and you will be charged fines up to $5,000. The minimum fine is $4,000 for anyone who had a BAC that tested over 0.15 percent.
- Fourth DUI Offense – At this point, removes the look-back period and imposes more serious consequences regardless of how long has passed since your prior offenses. Fourth convictions result in a mandatory minimum fine of $2,000 and your driver’s license will be suspended for five years at a minimum. If a short amount of time has passed between your third and fourth conviction, it’s possible that you will lose your license for up to ten years—or permanently. No option to obtain a hardship license is available for offenders with a fourth offense. Additionally, you could face up to five years in jail.
These penalties relate to cases that involve DUI charges standing alone, with no other concurrent charges arising out of the same incidents. Often, other charges accompany a DUI, especially if the driver is accused of injuring or endangering someone else while driving under the influence. A DUI can also evolve from a misdemeanor to a felony charge for a third or fourth DUI offense. A felony conviction of any kind has serious implications and will impact different areas of your life. Many people who have a felony on their record find it difficult to get a new job, secure rental housing, or maintain child custody.
With each new DUI offense, your driver’s license can also be suspended for a successively longer time period. This directly affects many people’s daily lives, especially those who rely on transportation to get to school, to work, or to fulfill other obligations. These consequences are especially difficult for those who need a driver’s license to perform their jobs. The loss of a driver’s license can necessitate a change in careers, where it can be a challenge to find any kind of new employment with a felony on your record. Of course, these challenges are even greater when you face jail time.
Needless to say, your life can be dramatically altered in the event that you receive multiple DUIs. It is essential to work with an experienced DUI defense lawyer who will protect your rights and help minimize the impacts of subsequent convictions on your life. Don’t delay—reach out to us as soon as possible after a DUI arrest.
A Defense Attorney Will Fight for the Best Outcome
The skilled defense lawyers at Meldon Law understand that every DUI case is unique. The details and circumstances of every DUI arrest vary and it is difficult to anticipate the evidence that will be used against you, and whether any of that evidence can be successfully challenged and thrown out. For this reason, it is essential to employ an attorney who will look at every possible avenue of defense available in your case. Ways that our legal team works to deliver the best possible outcome for a DUI case include:
- Offering a different reason for why you seemed intoxicated when pulled over
- Challenging the findings of an officer’s testimony about field sobriety tests
- Challenging the accuracy of the results of any chemical tests
- Requesting that a case is dismissed based on certain constitutional rights
- Negotiating the terms of a plea deal
- Requesting a hardship license if you must drive as part of your job or to take care of dependents
Call a Gainesville DUI Defense Attorney Today
At Meldon Law, we have worked to represent clients in Gainesville who face a range of different criminal charges. These include DUI and multiple DUI offenses. We understand the importance of creating a strong defense and are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. Call us today at (352) 373-8000 or contact us online to set up a time to discuss your case.