Florida DUI Defense Help Is A Phone Call Away
Call (727) 228-0838 for a free initial confidential consultation.
One of the most common questions we are asked is: “What is going to happen to me?” At The Denson Firm, we want you to be well-informed when making decisions regarding your defense. We understand you are be relying on our advice based upon extensive experience, and we want you to understand all of your options, why we make a particular recommendation, and the pluses and minuses of the decision made.
Below are the Florida statutes outlining the penalties for a DUI conviction. As you can see, the statutes are lengthy and encompass everything from fines, to jail time, to losing your driving privileges. Two important things to note up front are, there are a range of outcomes in DUI sentencing, and there are ways to manage and minimize the process.
We understand most individuals want to know what the potential consequences are for a drunk driving (DUI-DWI) conviction. Because of the wide variety of situations Florida DUI laws are fairly complex. Different factors can impact the severity of your potential consequences, including your blood alcohol content (BAC), who was in the car with you (e.g., a minor), and your past history of drinking and driving, as well as factors such as was there an accident, was anyone hurt or killed, etc.
Please call us at (727) 228-0838 or fill out our intake form for a free initial consultation to discuss your situation, potential consequences, and most importantly, how we may be able to help you.
In case of an emergency after normal hours, please leave a message for St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney, Bruce Denson. Your message will be immediately forwarded to his cell phone and responded to as quickly as possible.
Florida DUI/DWI Penalties
DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcoholic Beverages, Chemical Substances or Controlled Substances)
Under Florida law, DUI is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The potential penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven. Below we break down the potential fines, probation, jail and other penalties associated with DUI-
Adjudication and Sentencing
By Statute-Judges are prohibited from deviating from the statutory suspension/revocation periods mandated by statute. The courts are also prohibited from withholding adjudication in DUI cases, they must adjudicate you guilty.
MISDEMEANOR CONVICTIONS – We want your record to look as good as possible. Even if you have no prior record, in DUI cases the judge convict you and it goes on your record. However, the prosecutor may agree to reduce the charges. If you are looking to avoid a conviction on your record, it is a good idea to get representation early in the process.
First and second convictions: the court must order one year of probation. However, we may be able to convince the judge to give you the right of early termination of you probation and wrap your case up sooner.
Third and subsequent convictions: the court may order longer periods of probation.
First Conviction: The maximum sentence is 6 months in jail. If you had a BAL of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 9 months. These are the maximum jail sentences.
SPECIAL NOTE ON FIRST TIME DUI’S – Most first time DUIs are resolved without jail time. Unless there is something particularly aggravating about your case, like a death or serious bodily injury, it is unlikely you are going to jail for your first DUI.
Second Conviction: Not more than 9 months. With BAL of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 12 months. If second conviction within 5 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days.
SPECIAL NOTE ON SECOND TIME DUI’S – If this is your second DUI and your prior conviction is within 5 years of your arrest, the 10 days jail is MANDATORY.
Third Conviction: If third conviction is within 10 years of any prior DUI, there is mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days (and could be up to 5 years). If a third conviction is 10 years after your prior DUI, imprisonment is not mandatory but may be up to 12 months.
Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Prison up to 5 years or as provided in s.775.084, Florida Statutes, as a habitual/violent offender.
At court’s discretion, sentencing terms may be served in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program, credited toward term of imprisonment. We have options that can keep you out of jail if you are looking at mandatory jail time.
First Conviction: The judge must order you to complete DUI school.
SPECIAL NOTE ON DUI SCHOOL – There are some strategy decisions you should discuss with an attorney about if and when to sign up for DUI school. Time, money and your driving record will be affected by this decision so an early consultation is recommended.
Second and Subsequent Convictions: If you have multiple DUI’s you must do Multiple Offender DUI school. It is longer and more expensive.
SPECIAL NOTE ON THE EVALUATION – Part of DUI school is an alcohol evaluation. The State is trying to determine if you are at risk to reoffend and if alcohol counseling is warranted. While there are no magic answers, we can help prepare your for this evaluation.
First Conviction: Mandatory 50 hours of community service. The judge must order you to do 50 hours of community service.
TOO BUSY FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE? – It may be possible to have the court allow you to buy out the community service hours. (For example, instead of doing the hours you can convert this penalty to a $500 fine.) This is one of the many ways we can make life easier on you.
Impoundment of Immobilization of Vehicle
As part of any DUI sentence the judge must order that your vehicle be impounded for a period of time.
First conviction = 10 days
Second conviction within 5 years = 30 days
Third conviction within 10 years = 90 days
TWO NOTES ABOUT IMPOUNDMENT –
- Impoundment can be waived by the judge if it would be a hardship to an innocent third party. This is definitely something we should discuss.
- We can work with you and the impound companies to make this as painless as possible. There are strategies that can make this tolerable.
Driver License Revocation Periods for DUI in Florida
Florida law requires that judge suspend your license when you are convicted of DUI. While the suspension is mandatory, there is a range. We can help you qualify for the low end of that range.
A. First Conviction: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum 1 year. You may eligible to get a hardship license right away.
B. Second Conviction Within 5 Years: Minimum 5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 1 year.
C. Third Conviction Within 10 Years: Minimum 10 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 2 years.
Wrapping It Up
As you can see, there are a wide range of potential penalties and several ways we can help you. If you are still wondering, “What is going to happen to me?” Give The Denson Firm a call. We can let you know what you are facing and how we can help.