The story usually begins with, “Trust me, I am fine. I only had a few beers.” However, in the eyes of Florida Law, you are not fine and the DUI penalties in Florida are very tough. A DUI in Florida has the ability to turn your life upside down and forever haunt you. According to Florida DMV records, 55,722 DUI tickets were issued in Florida in 2011. Out of the 55,722 issued DUI tickets, 33,625 resulted in a DUI conviction. If convicted of a DUI, there may be jail time, loss of your Florida driver’s license, heavy fines, and much higher auto insurance rates. Further, a DUI conviction will stay on your Florida driving record for 75 years. Further, a DUI conviction in Florida can never be expunged.
An experienced Florida DUI attorney will have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to build a winning DUI defense, and may be able to have your charges dismissed altogether. Further, experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer is necessary for both aspects of a DUI case, both the criminal aspect and the Driver’s License part as well.
For more information on DUI defenses, see Defending Your DUI.
Fines, Fees, and Costs for a First DUI Offense
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 316.193(2)(a), first DUI offenders will be faced with fines ranging between $500 and $1,000 and potential imprisonment not exceeding six months. If the offender had a blood or breath-alcohol level of 0.15 or higher or had a person less than 18 years of age in the vehicle, the potential fine rises to between $1,000 and $2,000 and the potential imprisonment increases to nine months. Fla. Stat. § 316.193(4)(a).
Probation, Treatment, and Educational Provisions
Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 316.193(5) and McGhee v. State, 847 So. 2d 498, 501 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003), the court must place all offenders on monthly reporting probation. The term of probation cannot exceed one year for the first conviction for misdemeanor DUI. The statute also limits the total period of probation and imprisonment to one year. Fla. Stat. § 316.193(6)(a).
Further, the court must impose certain mandatory conditions for all DUI offenses, which are set forth in subsection (5) of Fla. Stat. § 316.193. Those conditions are: (1) “completion of a substance abuse course conducted by a DUI program licensed by the department under § Fla. Stat. 322,292, which must included a psychological evaluation of the offender,” (2) “the completion of all…education, evaluation, and treatment” resulting from a referral for treatment; (3) assumption of “reasonable costs for such education, evaluation, and treatment.” Moreover, for a the first DUI, the court shall make it a condition of probation that the defendant perform 50 hours of public service or community work hours.
Failure to report or complete recommended treatment or the DUI program substance abuse course and evaluation, the program shall notify the court and the department. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 316.193(5), the department shall cancel the offender’s driving privilege.
Additionally, it is mandatory that the court make it a condition of probation that the vehicle the defendant was operating, in actual physical control of, or any single vehicle that is registered in the defendant’s name at the time of the imposition of sentence, be impounded or immobilized. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 316.193(b)(a), the court will impound a vehicle for a period of 10 days on a first DUI conviction.
Driver’s License or Privilege Penalties
For a first DUI conviction not resulting in death, the period of revocation is six months to one year. Fla. Stat. § 322.28(2)(a). If one does not file a request for a Formal Administrative Hearing, his or her driving privileges will automatically be suspended within ten (10) days of the DUI arrest.
Florida courts have continuously held that driving license suspensions are not punitive, but rather merely administrative remedies. This view was expressed by the Florida Supreme Court in Smith v. City of Gainesville, almost 50 years ago in dealing with a suspension similar to the pretrial suspensions of today. Florida courts have since repeatedly relied on that decision in ruling on similar issues.
Generally, Florida considers pretrial suspensions to be remedial on both a general and individual level. Generally, they are in effect to enhance the well being of the public because they remove dangerous drivers from the roads. Individually, they protect intoxicated drivers from themselves. Thus, a suspension of driving privileges is not considered a punishment for a DUI in the state of Florida.
If you are currently facing your first DUI charge in the state of Florida, remember that the best way to obtain the best possible outcome on both aspects of a DUI case is to have an experienced professional handle you defense.
Learn about about your options for a public defender and when you should hire a DUI lawyer.
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