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Penalties for DUI in Florida

Driving under the influence of any alcoholic beverage, chemical substance or controlled substance may result in a DUI charge in the State of Florida. The penalties can be serious, and can have a life-long effect on your life and livelihood.

No one driving in Florida should ever take the issue of driving under the influence lightly, because the courts certainly do not consider a DUI a minor issue. There are several penalties that the court can impose when an individual is charged with a DUI in Florida.

Discover how hiring an attorney with experience in defending individuals charged with DUI in Florida may make a difference in your case, including the penalties imposed by the court in your case. 

What is Driving Under the Influence Under Florida Law? 

Offenses that involve driving under the influence (DUI) under Florida law are governed by Florida statutes. The state updates the statutes from time to time and may or may not change what constitutes a DUI or the penalties for a DUI. Chapter 316.193(1) (a), (b), and (c) defines a person as driving under the influence when their normal faculties are impaired to the extent that the person has a blood alcohol level of 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or when an individual has a breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. 

Hiring an attorney that has extensive knowledge of the law related to DUI statutes in Florida is likely a great option

Do you understand these statutes? You are not alone if you do not understand what this may mean to you. Hiring an attorney that has extensive knowledge of the law related to DUI statutes in Florida is likely a great option for trying to get your case dismissed or to make sure that you receive a minimum penalty, as provided by Florida law. 

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Florida 

There are a number of potential penalties that the court can impose on you or a loved one who is charged with a DUI in the State of Florida. Although the judge does have some discretion, the penalties are provided under Chapter 316.193(2) of the Florida Uniform Traffic Control statutes. 

Did you receive a DUI and think that you can represent yourself, and that you do not need an attorney? Consider these possible DUI penalties, which include a fine of not less than $500 but not more than $1,000 for a first DUI conviction, and a fine of not less than $1,000 but not more than $2,000 for a second conviction. You may also be sentenced to imprisonment if you receive a DUI conviction in Florida. The sentence may include imprisonment for up to six months for a first conviction, and imprisonment for up to nine months for a second DUI conviction in Florida. 

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles explains that if a person has a blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .15 or higher, or if there was a minor child in the vehicle, then the person can receive a fine of up to $2,000 for a first conviction and up to $4,000 for a second DUI conviction. 

A person who is convicted of a third DUI within 10 years of the second conviction may receive a minimum of a $2,000 fine and a maximum of a $5,000 fine. The minimum fine if the BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle is $4,000. 

Do you look forward to the penalty listed at Florida 316.193(3), which states that for a second conviction, the individual is responsible for the sole expense of the mandatory placement of an ignition interlock device for a period of at least one full year? The court imposes this penalty on all vehicles owned solely or jointly by the person convicted of a DUI under this statute.

These and other penalties are some reasons why a person who is charged with a DUI turns to an experienced attorney who has the expertise to fight for them, and to resolve their case with the best possible outcome. 

Can I Go to Jail for a DUI Conviction in Florida? 

Yes, you can serve a lengthy term of imprisonment if you receive a conviction for a DUI charge. The sentence may include imprisonment for up to six months for a first conviction, and imprisonment for up to nine months for a second DUI conviction in Florida. 

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If you are convicted of a third DUI offense within 10 years of the second conviction, the DUI becomes a felony of the third degree. A third-degree felony in the State of Florida is punishable by a possible prison term as defined under Florida 775.082, 775.083 or 775.084. 

You can serve up to five years in prison if you receive a fourth DUI conviction. 

You can serve a lengthy term of incarceration in prison if you injure or kill another occupant in the vehicle that you are driving at the time that you incur the DUI, or if someone in another vehicle or a pedestrian is injured or killed while you drive under the influence in violation of Florida law.

You may be charged with and convicted of DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony. This penalty may also be imposed if the court determines that you caused the death of an unborn child. 

Some people are convicted of vehicular homicide, which is a second-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a possible prison sentence of up to 15 years incarceration. If you leave the scene of an accident, you may be convicted of a first degree felony and sentenced to pay a fine of up to $10,000 and to serve up to 30 years in prison under Florida law.

These are some reasons why a person who is charged with a DUI contacts an experienced attorney who has the knowledge of Florida law that is necessary to fight for them, and to successfully resolve their case. 

How Can I Avoid Serving a Prison Sentence for a DUI? 

Your DUI attorney can explain how you may be able to avoid serving time in jail or prison, even if you are convicted of a DUI in Florida.

Some ways that you may be able to avoid serving a prison sentence, or may successfully have the court order that you serve a reduced sentence include: 

  • Serving a period of community service 
  • Completing a pretrial diversion program 
  • Completing a DUI school or program approved by the courts 
  • Submitting to random testing for alcohol and other drugs 
  • Completing other relevant classes or programs required by the court 

The judge may order that any time that you have already served in jail, or any time that you spent in an appropriate program will reduce the time that you spend in prison. One example is that if you spent 15 days in jail, that 15 days may be deducted from your jail or prison sentence. Did you complete a 30 day or 60 day diversion program or community service program? The court may decide to reduce your prison or jail sentence by those days that you participated in the completed program or programs.

Receiving a reduced sentence is not automatic, especially if you did not complete the program. If the court discovers that you were in a DUI school or program but you failed to show up or you only attended a few days, then the court likely will not reduce your sentence.

Showing remorse for your actions may also help you to receive a lesser sentence or to be sentenced to complete a community program. You may not have to pay the maximum amount of the fine that the court has the option to impose as part of your sentence. These possibilities are at the discretion of the judge, and what is allowed under the Florida statutes.

Why Do I Need a DUI Lawyer in Florida?

Contacting an attorney that has experience in Florida courts fighting DUI cases is likely your ideal option to get the best possible outcome for your DUI case, or for the DUI case of your loved one. Consider the consequences of not hiring an experienced DUI attorney and then facing the possibility of being ordered to pay a large fine or to be sentenced to prison.

Will your employer hold your job for you if you are convicted of driving under the influence in Florida, or if you serve time in prison? How will you explain the DUI conviction when applying for a job in the future? How will your relationships with family, friends and the community suffer once you are convicted of a DUI?

Nathalie Nicole Smith states that working hard and staying true to yourself are sure ways to win in life.

You do have legal rights, even if you are charged with a DUI. Your attorney may be able to work with the court to avoid a trial or to avoid serving time in prison. Contact a lawyer that knows how to fight for you or your loved one that is charged with a DUI in Florida.