No one plans on getting a DUI, but when this situation occurs for the first time, you may find that logical reasoning is compromised by fear and anxiety. That is why it is so important for you to understand how the law treats first-time DUI offenders, because the penalties, possible prison sentences and other consequences are different when comparing a first DUI in Florida to a second or third DUI conviction.
Under Florida statutes, a person is considered guilty of a DUI offense if that person is operating a transportation vehicle or in physical control of that vehicle. Furthermore, a DUI is not solely defined as driving under the influence of alcohol, because the law also lists any chemical substance or controlled substance that impairs a driver.
The blood-alcohol and breath-alcohol level that meets the criteria of ‘impaired’ are:
After you are arrested for a DUI for the first time, you will not be released from custody until:
If you are arrested on a DUI charge for the first time in Florida, you are subject to a fine of not less than $500, and no more than $1,000. However, if your blood-alcohol level is .15 or higher or if there was a minor in your vehicle at the time of your arrest, the fine increases to no less than $1,000, and no more than $2,000.
A first-time DUI offender who causes property damage or personal injury as the result of an accident in the vehicle is considered guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum $1,000 fine or a one-year prison sentence, which is at the discretion of a judge.
First-time offenders convicted of DUI in Florida are subject to a jail sentence of no more than six months. However, if your blood-alcohol level was .15 or higher or there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, that sentence increases to no more than nine months. Jail sentences for first-time DUI offenders are always at the discretion of the court, and alternate punishments are possible. For example, a judge can agree to a sentencing term in which you serve some or all of your time in a residential alcohol or drug abuse treatment program.
Regardless of whether a first-time DUI offender receives a jail sentence or not, he/she will have to do a mandatory 50 hours of community service.
Your vehicle is subject to 10 days of impoundment after your first DUI conviction.
The court can waive this impoundment if you can prove that you or members of your family do not have access to another mode of transportation. The court cannot impound your vehicle at the same time that you are serving a jail sentence for a DUI conviction.
After your first DUI conviction, the DMV will revoke your driver’s license for at least six months, but no more than 12 months. It’s important to remember, however, that you only have 10 days after your first DUI arrest to petition the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a hardship reinstatement of your license. If you fail to do so within that 10-day period, the DMV will automatically suspend your license.
The state requires anyone convicted of a DUI in Florida for the first time to complete DUI School before the DMV will reinstate their license. You must show the DMV proof that you completed the course before the agency will reinstate your license.
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI for the first time, please contact Stokes Law Firm. We can help protect all your rights, and obtain the best resolution possible. Call us today at 727-954-0186 for a free legal consultation.