DUI Laws and Penalties for First-Time DUI Convictions in Florida
You are nearing the end of a long night. You have had a few drinks but believe they are probably “out of your system” so you decide to get into your car and drive home. You almost turn into your familiar driveway but you hear sirens behind you signaling for you to pull over.
Driving under the influence charges (more commonly known as “DUIs”) are considered criminal offenses. If you are charged with a DUI, there are a few basics you should know about the charge and potential penalties you may face, even if this is your first conviction.
What Elements Must The State Prove To Convict You of a DUI?
Under Florida law, in order to convict you of a DUI, the state must prove you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle in Florida and:
- You were under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, or any substances, when affected to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired;
- You had a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath (> 0.08 BrAC); or
- You had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood (> 0.08 BAC).
What Mandatory Penalties Must A Florida Judge Impose If I Am Convicted of a DUI For The First Time?
There are several penalties a Florida judge must impose (without discretion) if any person is convicted of a DUI for a first time:
- Suspension of driver’s License: For a first conviction, the judge will revoke your license for a minimum of 180 days, but for up to one year.
- Impounding your car: A court may impound your car for ten days.
- Community service: A court will require you to serve 50 hours of community service for a first time conviction.
- Fines: The fines a judge must impose depend on what your BAC/BrAC is. Typically, a judge must order a minimum fine of $500. However, if the judge finds your BAC/BrAC was 0.15 or higher, the minimum fine is $1,000.
- Probation: A judge may sentence a first time convict to one year of probation.
- DUI school: A person convicted of a DUI for the first time will have to complete DUI school.
What Other Penalties Could A Florida Judge Impose if I Am Convicted?
A Florida judge may order penalties above those that are listed above. Notably, a court may generally sentence you to up to 6 months in jail for your first conviction, or up to 9 months if your BAC/BrAC is over 0.15 or there was a minor in the vehicle when you were driving. Fines may also be increased above the minimums.
It should be noted for first time offenders that depending on what your BAC/BrAC is, there is a graduated scale of penalties you may face on top of those listed above if you are convicted for a second time in the following five years. Specifically, the fines increase to a potential $4,000, the period of impoundment is increased to 30 days, and your driver’s license may be revoked for up to 5 years if you are convicted with a DUI for a second time within five years of your first conviction. Because of the wide variation in penalties based on a number of factors, it is important to hire a local attorney who can explain the penalties that may apply in your particular case, whether it is your first, second, or tenth DUI conviction.
Contact An Experienced Winter Park, Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Today!
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Winter Park, Florida, you need to hire an experienced, local criminal defense attorney, like the criminal defense lawyers of Cotter & Zelman, P.A. Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers can help you evaluate the merits of your defense and help ensure your rights are protected throughout the litigation of your claim. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.