Florida DUI Penalties
Understand DUI Sentencing and DUI Laws in Florida
In Florida, if law enforcement arrests and convicts you of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the law will subject you to DUI penalties. These penalties can vary in severity depending on several factors, including the nature of your crime, any past criminal history you might have, and several other factors. However, be assured that under any circumstances, these serious penalties will significantly change your life for at least the next several months. For this reason, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak with a Seminole County DUI attorney and get help fighting back against your accusations.
To schedule a free consultation, call The Law Office of David A. Webster, P.A. now at 407-862-9222, and speak with a Seminole County defense attorney about your DUI case!
What Are the DUI Penalties for a First-Time DUI?
Charging someone with a DUI is always serious, but for individuals with no previous criminal convictions or arrests, the penalties faced will likely be less severe, especially if they are just slightly over the legal limit. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t plead guilty to a DUI without first discussing your options with an attorney and finding out if it may be worth it to contest your case and fight to preserve your freedom and your rights.
First-time non-felony DUI offenders may face penalties including:
- Jail time (up to six months)
- Large fines (between $500 and $1,000, but up to $5,000 if someone suffers “serious bodily injury” as a result of your DUI)
- Probation (your probation period plus jail sentence usually can’t exceed a total of one year)
- Drivers’ license suspension (between six months and one year)
- Community service (at least 50 hours)
- Ignition interlock device installation
- Vehicle impound (10 days)
Aggravating Factors for DUI Penalties in Florida
As mentioned previously, some factors can cause these penalties to increase dramatically, mostly depending on the circumstances of your DUI. For example, the law charges a standard DUI if your blood alcohol content is .08 percent or more. However, a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or more increases many penalties. DUI penalties could include up to a nine-month jail sentence and fines ranging between $1,000 and $2,000.
Repeat DUI Offenders
Repeat offenders also face harsher penalties for their DUI charges. Under Florida law, if you commit a second DUI offense within five years of your first conviction, it counts as a second offense. Similarly, a third offense within ten years of the initial crime qualifies as a third offense. The penalties for these charges are much more restrictive and life-impacting. A fourth offense could even result in you losing your driving privileges altogether for the remainder of your life.
How Do You Challenge DUI Charges?
When it comes to mounting a defense for those who are charged with DUI, there are several options available. The most common way to defend drunk driving charges is by attacking the officer’s observations of what transpired prior to the arrest. In addition, the defense could challenge the validity of the evidence, such as the accuracy of chemical test results.
Common drunk driving defenses used by DUI attorneys throughout Florida and in the United States:
- Improper stop – This entails that the arresting officer did not properly establish probable cause to make the initial traffic stop.
- Administration and/or accuracy of breathalyzer test – A Seminole DUI attorney can challenge the administrator of the breathalyzer test used at the scene, determining if there were intervening factors such as mouth alcohol or inadequate calibration with the device.
- Administration and/or chain of custody of blood test –A Seminole DUI lawyer can question the administration of a blood test and/or raise concerns about potential tampering or mishandling in the chain of custody.
- Administration and/or accuracy of field sobriety test – If the field sobriety test was properly administered or produced inaccurate results, the arrest may be ruled improper. These tests are frequently challenged since the results are often subjective.
- Rising blood alcohol concentration – In many cases, a defendant’s BAC level is below the legal limit while driving but increases between the traffic stop and the breath test administration. This often occurs because the system has not yet completely absorbed the recently consumed alcohol at the time of the chemical test.