What are the Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for Your First-Time DUI?
- April 8th, 2019
- Bruce Denson
- Comments Off on What are the Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for Your First-Time DUI?
A first-time DUI in Florida carries many consequences. Some you may have heard of, while others you may not have suspected at all. And while it’s true that, in minor cases, your first DUI is less harsh that repeat offenses, you never know what can happen once you’re in front of the judge. That’s why hiring a lawyer is recommended for your first drinking and driving offense.
An attorney can do wonders to help reduce your sentencing and make the overall process less of a hassle and worry for you. Here at The Denson Firm in St. Petersburg, Florida, our criminal justice attorneys will manage your entire case. From investigating the scene to representing you at trial, it’s our job to ensure that this first-time mistake does not severely alter your life. Contact us today for a free consultation and more information on Florida DUI law.
Options for First-time DUI
Believe it or not, there are options for you when it comes to penalties for driving under the influence. While these options depend on the severity of the case (your BAC, injury, among other factors), your attorney will be able to guide you in the right direction and present an option that best represents you.
Your attorney may be able to have your case dismissed in certain circumstances. After they investigate the case, they can properly determine whether the officer involved followed proper guidelines of Florida DUI law. If your attorney can bring into question the officer’s probable cause or whether you were properly Mirandized at the time of your arrest (see below), then you may be able to have your case dismissed. If you were not given a BAC test or it was conducted in an unorthodox manner, dismissal of your Florida DUI may be plausible.
It’s likely you’ve heard Miranda rights being given in pop culture (movies, TV, etc.) as follows:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.
You’ll automatically have a lesser reduction if your BAC was below 0.15 or if you were not involved in an accident. Your attorney will be the only one who can negotiate a plea deal on your behalf, which usually resolves the matter in your favor. However, if you have a minor in the vehicle with you at the time of the offense, you’ll automatically be charged jail time, higher fees, and be subscribed an IID (ignition interlock device). An IID is a breathalyzer that’s connected to a vehicle’s ignition system, and once it’s installed the vehicle won’t start until you breathe into the device with alcohol-free breath.
Staying out of Jail
Imprisonment can be served residentially or under an alcohol abuse program, and these sentences are typically served in no more than six months.
Under Florida Statute § 316.193, a first-time DUI offender who was accompanied in the vehicle by a minor (under 18) shall be punished as follows:
- First conviction: Up to nine months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
- Second conviction: Up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
- Third conviction: Up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
However, it’s possible an attorney will be able to get you a short probation period and community service so that you’re staying out of jail. You’ll still be expected to pay fees, including driver’s license reinstatement and possibly fees for DUI school.
How an Attorney Saves You Time in the DUI Process
Like most states, Florida DUI law is strict. It comes with hassles and monetary obligations that you may not have been prepared for. The Denson Firm will manage this entire process for you. We make sure that everything is taken care of and in a timely manner (most penalties for DUI involve strict timelines).
Here are a few ways our attorneys can help save you time in the DUI process:
Getting a license back
You’ll have to appear for a DMV Administrative Review Hearing after being charged with a DUI. You have precisely 10-days to request this hearing, and you must provide all the proper paperwork to get your license back. Your attorney will be able to do this quickly and efficiently so that you’ll prevail in your hearing. Once you’ve been cleared for license reinstatement, your attorney can help you gather the appropriate paperwork.
Your attorney will know how to negotiate your case so that you receive a shorter probation period. For example, you can claim “wet reckless” as a plea bargain for a shorter probation period. Wet reckless is when your charge is reduced to reckless driving instead of an actual DUI conviction. This will only be considered when your BAC is borderline illegal, there was no accident, or if you have no prior offenses. Keep in mind that this charge will be considered as a first-time DUI offense should you be convicted of drinking and driving a second time.
Along with preparing for your defense case to help negate the charges against you, your attorney will handle all the paperwork involved in your case. There is a lot to know considering DUI laws in Florida, including paperwork and deadlines. Your attorney will be privy to all this information so that you don’t miss any deadlines, thus, saving you time and money.
Why You Need an Attorney for Your First-time DUI
You might surmise that if your BAC was low regarding Florida’s legal limit, or if you weren’t involved in an accident then hiring an attorney isn’t necessary. The value of an attorney is crucial, however. Even if you’re under the 0.15 BAC threshold (the legal limit in Florida is 0.08), you can still face serious consequences. Here are just some of the consequences that come with your first DUI infraction:
First-time DUI Costs
No matter the case, a DUI is going to cost you a pretty penny. Hiring an attorney can save you potential costs if they negotiate your case right. First-time DUI fines and court fees can be anywhere from $500 to $2,000. These fees can increase depending on other factors in your case such as injury or death, exceeding $5,000. You’ll have to pay to reinstate your driver’s license (including administrative fees), attend and pay for DUI school referred by the courts, deal with vehicle impoundment, and pay jail or probation fees.
Initial DUI Sentencing
First-time DUI offenses don’t always equate to jail time. However, it’s up to your lawyer to present your case so you can receive lesser sentencing. You can get up to nine months of jail time if your first DUI resulted in a BAC of 0.15 or higher, or if you had a minor in the vehicle with you. You’ll lose your license for at least 180 days, no matter what your BAC level was, and you’ll be on probation for a scheduled amount of time. An attorney can help you decide which route to take so that this situation minimally affects your current lifestyle.
How a DUI Effects Professional Licenses
The effects of DUI charges on professional licenses can be severe. To protect your livelihood, hire an attorney so that you understand all the consequences and implications a DUI will have on your professional license. Holding a professional license in Florida generally requires you to disclose criminal actions or cases that are being held against you, and your attorney will be able to determine when you should report a DUI offense. They can also help prevent any damaging disciplines that can be taken on your license based on this offense.
Type of Professional Licenses
Anyone who holds a special working license in Florida can be affected with a DUI charge. It’s important for these professionals to check the company handbook and policies about disclosing the arrest.
- Account Collectors
- Animal Control Worker
- Childcare Worker
- Interior Designer
- Landscape Architect
- Pharmacy Technician
- Plumbing Contractor
- Police, Fire and Ambulance Dispatcher
- Real Estate Agent
- Security Guard
For instance, let’s assume you have a nursing or physician’s professional license. The Department of Health and licensing boards view licensed health professionals with a DUI offense as a risk to the public, rightfully so. Possible sanctions for a DUI can include:
- Heavy fines
- Revocation of your license
- Loss of employment
- Random alcohol and drug testing
- Mandatory counseling
- “Letter of Concern” placed in your professional file
These sanctions are undoubtedly significant and can compound the results of a DUI conviction, which is why it’s imperative to consult a proven attorney to handle your DUI charge. Your professional career could be on the line.
Reporting your DUI
While every occupational licensing will have different practices for reporting a DUI, generally it will be up to the licensing board to determine the future of your occupation. The Florida state board will review your case to determine if or any consequences because of your DUI conviction. Then there may be a hearing in which you can defend your case and provide encouragement for supporting your continued licensing. Your attorney will be able to help delegate what to present to the board to stimulate your case. In the meantime, your license may be suspended or revoked while waiting on their decision.
For all DUI offenses, your driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of 180 days. This can make it hard to get to work, even if your license has yet to be suspended or revoked. Your job may also have stipulations against hiring workers with criminal records, which may result in you losing your job. Your DUI conviction will still appear on your driver’s license for at least seven years, according to Florida DUI laws. It will also appear on your criminal record, which may prevent you from obtaining a new job, even if you have not lost your license.
Driver License Revocation Periods for DUI:
- First offense without bodily injury: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum one year.
- First offense with bodily injury: Minimum three years revocation.
- DUI manslaughter: Mandatory permanent revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after five years, if there are no prior DUI related convictions.
- Manslaughter, DUI serious bodily injury or vehicular homicide convictions: Minimum three years revocation. DUI serious bodily injury having prior DUI conviction is the same as “first offense with bodily injury.”
What to Do Now: Contact an Attorney
An attorney can help you with your first-time DUI offense to dismiss your case or at the very least, negotiate your sentencing options.
Here at The Denson Firm in St. Petersburg, Florida, we will:
- Consult with you to understand your DUI case and your needs for resolution.
- Thoroughly investigate the prosecutor’s case against you.
- Speak with any witnesses.
- Present motions that need to be heard by the judge.
- Investigate your defense.
- Represent you at trial.
We have over 14 years of experience defending individuals charged with drunk driving in Florida. We’ll work with you to understand the finite details of your case, from the stopping sequence to your final hearing so you don’t have to do it alone. Our DUI defense lawyer will take the time to explain the law, explain the criminal and civil processes, and outline your options. Our legal team will investigate the case that’s being built against you while collecting evidence that could exonerate your responsibility in the matter.
Schedule a free initial confidential consultation. We have extensive experience in successfully defending people charged with first-time DUI/DWI offenses or call us at (727) 896-7000. We answer phones 24 hours a day to help you negotiate your DUI offense.