Florida DUI Penalties
Understand DUI Sentencing and DUI Laws in Florida
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law in Florida, which means that if you are arrested and convicted in a court of law, you will be subjected to criminal and administrative 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, no matter what the circumstances, you can be assured that these penalties will be serious, and that your life will change significantly for at the very 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.
What Are the Penalties for a First Time DUI?
Being charged with a DUI is always a serious matter, but for those who have no previous criminal convictions or arrests, the penalties you face will most likely be the least severe, especially if you’re just a little bit 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 in Florida
As mentioned previously, some factors can cause these penalties to increase dramatically, mostly depending on the circumstances of your DUI. For example, a standard DUI can be charged if you have a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more, but a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or more can increase many of these penalties, such as 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, a second DUI offense within five years of your first conviction can be counted as a second offense, and a third offense within ten years of the initial crime could be considered 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 all together 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 or challenging 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 – The administrator of the breathalyzer test used at the scene could be challenged. A Seminole DUI attorney can determine whether 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 raise questions about the administration of a blood test and/or whether it was tampered with or otherwise mishandled 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 – There are many cases where a defendant’s BAC level was below the legal limit while he or she was driving but actually increased between the time of the traffic stop and the administration of the breath test. It often occurs when recently consumed alcohol has yet to completely absorb into the system until the time of the chemical test.