If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time, you probably have more than a few questions about how a DUI case works and what kind of penalties you're facing. While every case and defendant will come with a different set of circumstances, as far as DUI charges go, first-time DUI penalties in Florida are typically much more lenient than the penalties for repeat DUI charges.
We understand that being arrested for DUI and having to spend time in a jail cell can be scary, which is why retaining an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible is the best thing you can do to get answers to your questions and ensure a favorable outcome. Keep reading to learn more about some of the typical penalties and fines that first-time DUI offenders can face in Florida.
Consequences of a First-Time DUI in Florida
You can be arrested for DUI based on an officer believing that your normal faculties are impaired. At some point during the investigation, you will be asked to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample. If you find yourself arrested for a DUI in Florida, whether your blood-alcohol or breath sample was at or higher than .08%, we have offices in Palm Beach County and Broward County to assist you.
The reason that hiring an attorney is so crucial, even for a DUI in Florida that's a first offense, is that the consequences can be severe and impactful on your daily life.
The penalties that you face will be determined based on several factors. These factors include your blood alcohol content, whether you refused to provide a blood or urine sample, whether or not there was a minor involved, and whether any person(s) or property was damaged during the incident. If you've caused bodily harm to another individual, you should seek counsel from a DUI manslaughter lawyer immediately.
If your blood alcohol level was higher than 0.08% but less than 0.15%, you will face a fine between $500 and $1,000. If your blood alcohol level was 0.15% or higher, you could face fines as high as $2,000. If you had an underage child with you in the vehicle while you were driving under the influence, no matter what your blood alcohol level was, you will face the higher fine and could be charged with a felony for Child Neglect as well.
In addition to the mandatory fines, your driver's license can be suspended for up to twelve months.
You may also face probation and jail time. For a DUI in Florida, if it is your first offense, you can spend up to six months in jail if your blood alcohol content was below 0.15%. If your blood-alcohol content was higher than that amount, the penalty could be up to nine months in jail. If there was a minor involved, you could face the nine-month penalty even if your blood-alcohol content was not that high. It is crucial to hire a DUI attorney to argue on your behalf for the lowest possible sentencing and to avoid jail time.
It is important to note that in the state of Florida, a DUI conviction, even if it is your first offense, will remain on your record for life. That means that any job you apply for, any time you go to renew car insurance, or any house or apartment you attempt to rent or buy, the DUI charge will appear. It is important to hire a qualified and experienced DUI lawyer to help fight your arrest for DUI.
Partner Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal is a former prosecutor in Palm Beach County who has handled DUI cases throughout the county including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, and more. He has also handled DUI cases in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and many other counties throughout the State of Florida.
Social Consequences of a DUI in Florida
Not only are the legal ramifications of a DUI in Florida significant, but the social consequences can be severe as well. If you share custody of your children, your co-parent may try to argue in court that you are unfit to care for your child. If you lose your license and have no means of transportation, you may not be able to make it to work, and you could lose your job.
Additionally, without a license, you will be unable to drive to doctor's appointments, gatherings with friends, the supermarket, and anywhere else that you are accustomed to going daily. Having a DUI conviction and losing your license can impact you significantly.
Is There a Difference Between a DUI and a DWI?
There is no difference between a DUI and a DWI, and you may hear them used interchangeably. The reason for this is that each state in the country creates its own laws regarding driving a vehicle while intoxicated. Some states refer to the charge as a DWI, which stands for Driving While Intoxicated, or Driving While Impaired, which may also reference drugs were involved.
In the state of Florida, the charge is called a DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, regardless of the circumstances.
What Does Being "In Control Of Your Vehicle" Mean?
To be charged and convicted of a DUI in Florida, you must be the person who was in actual physical control of your vehicle. The prosecution must prove this was the case to convict you.
The definition gets murky, and this is where many individuals get confused. It is what makes it vital to have a DUI attorney represent you as this one simple fact can make or break the entire case.
If you were driving your vehicle and you were pulled over, and then found to be intoxicated, you were in control of your vehicle. However, if your vehicle was parked in a parking lot or on the side of the road and you were intoxicated while inside, can you still be charged with DUI?
A prosecutor may claim that yes, you can be convicted, as you were in actual physical control of your vehicle at that time, and you were under the influence. Even if the car is not running, you may still be charged. What this means is that you can lose your license, face hefty fines, and even jail time if you were not driving your car but rather just had the ability to operate the vehicle.
Speak To An Attorney About Your DUI Charges Today
Don't risk spending time in jail and losing your license for an extended time, contact the Weinstein Legal Team today. We are standing by to discuss your charges and start strategizing your defense.