The Denson Firm

First-time DUI in Florida: What You Need to Consider Before Court

The Florida DUI law is harsh, even for first-time DUI offenses. Most DUIs are misdemeanors, but in 2021, driving under the influence caused a total of 799 deaths in Florida. Despite the risk and danger, people still get behind the wheel while intoxicated every day.

Perhaps this is because offenders consider the odds of getting pulled over are low, and they won’t be the unlucky ones. However, 32,177 total arrests for DUI were made in Florida in 2018 alone. The highest age bracket for those arrested for drunk driving falls between those who are 21 and 24 years old at a rate of 27%. In conjunction with the fact that two in three people are involved in an alcohol-induced crash in their lifetime, the stakes are very high.

If you’re in the midst of a first-time DUI charge, carefully go over these facts before the court. Driving while impaired is not only dangerous but expensive. Contact a DUI defense lawyer for more information on what to do for your first conviction. Bruce Denson’s representation ranges from first-time DUI/DWI charges to DUI felony charges for repeat offenders, and he is experienced in representing car drivers as well as commercial truck drivers with CDLs.

first court appearance for a first-time dui

Cost of a DUI in Florida

According to Florida law, DUI is typically determined by unlawful blood alcohol levels or breath alcohol levels or by a showing of impairment. The unlawful limit for alcohol levels is determined as the Blood Alcohol Concentration or BAC. In all 50 states, a person is legally intoxicated if their BAC is 0.08 or more, though special circumstances could lead to an arrest at a lower BAC.

According to BAC Track, your first DUI can cost you up to $20,000 in fees. The following is a summary of the cost of a Florida DUI:

Fines and court costs

First-time DUI fines and court fees can be anywhere from $500 to $2,000. However, if you have driven under the influence with a minor in the vehicle or with a blood alcohol level over 0.15, these fees can be as high as $2,000 to $4,000. If you’ve caused serious bodily injuries to another person, these fines can exceed $5,000.

A community service charge of 50 hours is mandatory for first-time DUI offenders in Florida. However, the court may allow you to buy out the community service requirement for an additional $10 for every hour of required community service.

DUI school and evaluation

By statute, DUI school is referred by the courts and is compulsory. A minimum of 12 hours of education on drugs and alcohol is required to be completed within 90 days, according to The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ (DHSMV) Bureau of Motorist Compliance. Prices of these courses differ from county to county. The Florida Safety Council offers these classes for first-time offenders at a rate of $314.80.

After schooling, you’ll be required to be evaluated by the state. The cost of the evaluation or a substance abuse program generally falls on the offender. The fees are paid directly to those conducting the evaluation and cost around $150.

DMV fees

Because your driver’s license will be revoked for 180 days or more, you’ll have to pay DMV fees when it comes time to reinstate your license. For a hardship copy of your license, you’ll have to pay $115 for an examination and the administrative fee. There’s also an additional $60 reinstatement fee.

Probation fees

Florida courts are required to place DUI offenders on probation, including those with first-time offenses. The probation period typically does not exceed one year. The state of Florida requires DUI offenders to pay $50 per month during their probation period and may be subject to a statutory surcharge. An additional $1 per month is also sometimes charged and must be paid within the first 90 days after the beginning of your probationary sentence.

Insurance fees

To reinstate your driver’s license, you must have the appropriate driver’s insurance intact. The state of Florida requires proof of bodily injury liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 per person, also stating the following stipulations are required for DUI offenders:

  • $300,000 per occurrence and $50,000 for property damage liability on the arrest date or proof of liability coverage.
  • Reinstatement fee between $150 and $500 for subsequent violations.

DUI Cost Summary

Fines and Court Costs: $500-$5,000

DUI School and Evaluation: About $400

DMV Fees: $175

Probation Fees: $50 or more

Insurance: $150-500 reinstatement fee

what to consider before your court appearance for a first time dui in florida

Furthermore, you may have to pay funds to post bond, towing, and storage at the impound lot, as well as attorney fees.

Effects on Insurance

Besides the thousands of dollars in fees, having a DUI on your record will have an impact on your auto insurance premium. A DUI in Florida will drastically affect your annual rates, and here are a few things to keep in mind moving forward with your car insurance policy.

Will you be dropped from your auto insurance?

It depends. Every first-time DUI situation is evaluated individually. If you have maintained a clean and safe driving record, chances are your premium will just go up without any other consequences. However, depending on the severity of the event, your insurance carrier may choose to cancel your policy altogether. Your attorney will advise you to be honest with your insurance provider, guiding you through forms you need to fill out to get the best representative coverage.

Find realistic costs of increased premiums.

In Florida, auto insurance rates can increase as much as 50% after a DUI. To keep your insurance, you’ll need FR-44 coverage.

Florida Statute 324.023 is the law that speaks to higher liability limits, stating:

“Every owner or operator of a motor vehicle that is required to be registered in this state, or that is located within this state, and who, regardless of adjudication of guilt, has been found guilty of or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of driving under the influence under s. 316.193 after October 1, 2007, shall, by one of the methods established in s. 324.031(1) or (2), establish and maintain the ability to respond in damages for liability on account of accidents arising out of the use of a motor vehicle in the amount of $100,000 because of bodily injury to, or death of, one person in any one crash and, subject to such limits for one person, in the amount of $300,000 because of bodily injury to, or death of, two or more persons in any one crash and in the amount of $50,000 because of property damage in any one crash.”

To reiterate, the FR-44 forms prove that you meet the minimum requirements for Florida’s limited liability coverage. In Florida, FR-44 liability limits are higher. The insured's liability limits must be at least:

  • $100,000 for injury or death to one person
  • $300,000 for injury or death of two or more people
  • $50,000 for property damage liability

Shop around for auto insurance options.

If you’ve been convicted of a DUI in Florida, you’re automatically considered a high-risk driver, and this can increase your insurance premium by hundreds of dollars annually. Naturally, this puts a financial burden on your shoulders. Even if you’re not dropped by your insurance provider, it’s important to shop around to have a backup plan. Some companies evoke higher premiums for DUIs than others, as there’s no one-size-fits-all auto policy.

The average rate for a Florida auto insurance policy is around $1,878. Those who are found guilty of driving under the influence can expect to see their rates rise to about $2,739.96. As of Jan 2023, the insurance company that offers the lowest rate with a DUI is State Farm – their rate is 46% lower than the state’s mean premium.

On the other end, at 19% above the average cost of auto premiums after a DUI, Allstate carries the steepest premium in 2023. Be sure to double-check the current rates at the time of your conviction to see that you’re getting the most affordable auto policy rate going forward.

Sample Car insurance rates in Florida after a DUI:

  • State Farm - $871
  • GEICO - $910
  • Farmers - $1,277
  • Travelers - $1,329
  • National General - $1,419

How long will a DUI affect your insurance?

This answer varies depending on which state you live in. Typically, in the state of Florida, your DUI conviction will always be on your driving record. It should only affect your insurance premium for three to five years, but some insurance companies look back up to 10 years in Florida. After that, your insurance rate should return to something like the rate you had prior. Keep in mind that a DUI conviction will always remain on your criminal record.

Vehicle impoundment

Motorists convicted of first-offense DUIs might have their car impounded for 10 days. You can pick the 10 days. However, the impoundment cannot run concurrently with any time spent in jail, which means the motorist would be without their car for 10 days while not in jail. Speaking with a Florida DUI lawyer can help resolve any local issues.

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 best sentencing options.

At The Denson Firm, 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 if needed.

We have over 20 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 with a Denson Firm criminal defense attorney with extensive experience successfully defending people charged with first-time DUI/DWI offenses, or call us today.

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