Driving under the influence is dangerous. A person who chooses to drink and drive puts lives at risk. Florida has harsh penalties for anyone caught driving under the influence. The severity of these penalties depends on whether you have a history of driving under the influence and whether your actions led to the injury or death of someone else.
After a DUI arrest, one of the most important things you can do is hire experienced legal representation. You want a DUI lawer with years of experience aggressively defending against DUI charges and helping our clients minimize the charges’ impact on their lives.
Florida DUI Basics
Drinking and driving is never a good idea. Even one drink can affect your ability to drive. The best way to avoid a DUI is to never get behind the wheel after you have been drinking. Use a designated driver or plan to take a taxi or rideshare if you expect to drink.
In Florida, drivers can be found guilty of driving under the influence if they are in actual physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater. Further, a person is guilty of driving under the influence if:
- Alcohol impairs that person’s ability to drive, even if the person’s blood alcohol level is below the legal limit;
- The person drives under the influence of an illegal substance or any other substance that impairs driving ability; or
- The driver refuses a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test.
After a DUI arrest, the arresting officer has the authority to suspend your license. Usually, this will mean that the officer takes your license and gives you a notice of suspension, which also serves as a 10-day driving permit. You have the right to request a hearing to dispute this suspension, but you must do so within 10 days. An experienced Florida attorney can guide you through the process and help you request a hardship license.
The Financial Consequences of a DUI
Part of your punishment after a DUI usually includes paying a fine. The amount that you must pay will depend on whether you have any prior DUI convictions and your blood alcohol level. The following is a breakdown of fines for a DUI offense in Florida:
- For the first DUI arrest, the driver must pay a fine not less than $500 and no greater than $1,000. If the driver has a blood-alcohol level greater than 0.15 percent, or if there is a minor in the car at the time of the arrest, the minimum presumed fine is no less than $1,000 and no more than $2,000.
- For a second offense, the penalties increase. For a blood alcohol content of 0.8 percent or greater, the fine will be no less than $1,000 and no more than $2,000. If you have a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or greater the fine will be no less than $2,000 and no greater than $4,000.
- For the third conviction and any multiple offenses, the minimum base fine will be no less than $2,000 and no greater than $5,000.
For any offense, regardless of your blood alcohol level, if there is a minor in the vehicle while you are driving under the influence, the minimum fine is equal to what the fine would be if you were driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 percent or greater. It is also important to note that the court can choose a harsher penalty if it classifies you as a habitual offender.
Potential Jail Time
Whether you will have to serve time in jail is at the discretion of the court. The court will likely consider the severity of your offense, whether there were any injuries, and whether you show remorse for your actions. The likelihood of jail time and the length of time you will spend in jail increases upon each offense. Possible sentencing includes:
For the First Offense
- Imprisonment for no more than 6 months.
- For a blood alcohol level greater than 0.15 percent, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, prison time shall not exceed 9 months.
For the Second Offense
- Imprisonment not to exceed 9 months.
- For a blood alcohol level greater than 0.15 percent, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, nome more than 12 months. If a second offense happens within five years of the first offense, there is a mandatory minimum 10-day sentence.
For the Third Offense
- Imprisonment not to exceed 12 months. If it has been less than 10 years since the previous conviction there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail.
For the Fourth and Every Subsequent Offense
- Up to five years in jail.
In addition to fines and jail time, the court can impose further penalties. Again, the severity of these consequences will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Other penalties include:
- Mandatory drug and alcohol counseling
- Community service
- Mandatory ignition lock device
- Driver’s license suspension
- DUI School
- Vehicle impoundment
Call a DUI Lawyer if You’re Arrested
It just takes one mistake, one poor judgment call, to turn your life upside down. A DUI conviction can have serious consequences on every aspect of your life. Even before a conviction, the loss of your license can make it impossible to get to work and could cause you to lose your job. If you were involved in an accident while under the influence you may even face misdemeanor or felony charges.
After a DUI arrest, contact a skilled, knowledgeable DUI attorney, someone with years of experience successfully challenging DUI arrests in Florida and who can give you the personal attention your case deserves. If you are facing a DUI charge, don’t hesitate to obtain the services of Meldon Law.
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Founder of the Meldon Law FirmEmail Jeffrey Meldon