Florida takes driving under the influence very seriously. Penalties can range from drivers license suspension or revocation to thousands of dollars in fines and even jail time. There are several different classes of penalties involved, and if you are charged with a DUI in Florida, you should think very seriously about obtaining legal help. An experienced criminal attorney may save you more in fines and legal costs than what you pay as the attorney's retainer. Even if you are a first-time offender, the range of potential punishments is broad and depends largely on the alcohol content involved and the district where the offense occurred. Here is an overview of the different kinds of penalties for Florida DUI first offense charges.
Florida DUI First Offense
The penalties for a first-time DUI offender in Florida have a broad range of possibilities, based on breath alcohol content (BAC) or blood alcohol content (BAC). They can include:
Jail Time of anywhere from 6 to 9 months.
- Fines and Penalties from $500 to $2,000.
- Suspension of Driving Privileges for up to one year.
- Ignition Interlock placed on your vehicle to restrict driving.
- Impounding of your vehicle.
- Community service of at least 50 hours.
Administrative Penalties of a Florida DUI
Administrative penalties under Florida law include mandatory suspension of your license should you refuse to submit to a breath alcohol test, or urine test, or blood alcohol test. This suspension is for one year's time. You will have to complete educational courses on DUI to get your license back, and during the period of suspension you should be eligible for a hardship license and an ignition interlock device to restrict and monitor your driving.
You could pay fines ranging from $500 up to $2,000. These fines can be doubled if your BAC is above .15 or if you have a minor in the car when arrested. In addition, you will have to pay all court and administrative costs. You may be required to complete up to 50 hours of community service. An experienced attorney may be able to save more in fines than what the attorney's retainer costs.
Criminal Penalties of a Florida DUI
DUI is not just a summary offense in Florida. You may have to pay criminal penalties as well. While there is no mandatory jail time for a first offense, you can be sentenced to up to 9 months in jail depending on your BAC and the circumstances of your arrest. Future convictions can result in criminal penalties of up to five years or longer in prison.
Florida DUI Attorneys
If you are arrested for DUI in Florida, never assume that just because it's your first offense the courts will go easy on you. Since the penalties have such a broad range and so much depends on the individual court, it is vital that you seek the services of a qualified Florida DUI attorney. Your auto insurance rates will increase for much longer than the criminal penalties exist. An attorney knows all of the laws involved in driving under the influence and knows how to help you best plan your defense in court and to have long lasting auto insurance consequences.
The administrative penalties alone can interfere with your ability to maintain a livelihood and get to work. Don't let an arrest for DUI ruin your life—especially if it is your first offense and you are not guilty! Call an expert DUI defense attorney to make sure your rights are protected and you get the representation you deserve. For more information or a consultation on your case, call us today or email us your questions.