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A DUI conviction in Florida involves two primary areas of concern: the criminal penalties and the repercussions for your driver’s license. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) handles license suspension issues, while the criminal justice system deals with the criminal charges. The penalties for DUI vary depending on whether it’s your first offense or a subsequent one.
Let’s focus initially on a first-time DUI. The minimum penalties include an adjudication of guilt, which is mandatory upon conviction. This means that the charge cannot be sealed or expunged from your record. For a first-time DUI, there’s no mandatory minimum jail time, but you can face a maximum of six months. This maximum increases to nine months if your blood alcohol content was above 0.15.
As for your driver’s license, an automatic suspension is enforced on the day of your DUI arrest, courtesy of the DHSMV. This is an administrative suspension which we discussed earlier, and it ranges from six months to 12 months. If you’re convicted of DUI in court, an additional court-imposed suspension of between six to 12 months is added to this.
Monetary fines are also part of the penalty for a first-time DUI. The minimum fine is $500, which can increase to $1,000. If your BAC was over 0.15, these numbers double. In addition, with a BAC over 0.15, a six-month ignition interlock device is required in your vehicle. This device acts as a breathalyzer and must be used to start your car and periodically while driving.
Further, a mandatory 10-day vehicle immobilization is imposed. Nowadays, this can occur at your residence, with a company typically installing a boot to prevent the vehicle from moving.
Community service, counseling, and educational programs are also mandated. A minimum of 50 hours of community service, completion of DUI Counterattack School, drug and alcohol counseling sessions, and a victim impact panel or awareness panel are all required. Additionally, you’ll bear the responsibility of paying court costs, costs of prosecution, and often costs of investigation paid back to the police department.
The penalties escalate for a second DUI conviction within five years of your first. This includes a mandatory 10-day jail sentence (up to a year), and your license suspension increases to a minimum of five years. Remember, this information pertains only to first-time offenses and a second DUI within five years. The penalties for further offenses continue to escalate.
However, this can escalate up to a lifetime suspension. Thus, for a second DUI within five years of your first, the judge is obligated to suspend your license for at least five years, but it could be taken for a lifetime. The fines also increase, with a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $2,000.
If your BAC was above 0.15, these figures double to a minimum of $2,000 and a maximum of $4,000. An ignition interlock device is mandated for a minimum of one year for a second conviction within five years, and if your BAC was over 0.15, this increases to a minimum of two years. The vehicle immobilization term also increases to a minimum of 30 days.
If your second DUI occurs outside of five years from the first, there’s no mandatory jail time. However, potential jail time increases to a maximum of nine months, and the other penalties, such as fines, ignition interlock device duration, and vehicle immobilization, remain the same as a second DUI within five years.
For a third DUI conviction within 10 years of the first or second, the repercussions escalate drastically. A minimum of 30 days to a maximum of five years of jail time is mandated, because a third DUI within this period becomes a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Your driver’s license can be revoked for a minimum of 10 years up to a lifetime. The fines increase to a minimum of $2,000 and a maximum of $5,000, or $4,000 minimum if your BAC was above 0.15. There’s also a two-year minimum for the ignition interlock device and a 90-day vehicle immobilization.
If the third DUI occurs outside of 10 years, there’s no mandatory jail time but a potential maximum of one year, as it’s considered a misdemeanor. The driver’s license suspension period is between six to 12 months. The fines and other penalties are identical to a third DUI within ten years.
If you reach a fourth DUI at any point in your life, it will always be classified as a felony. There’s no mandatory jail time, but a potential maximum of five years. A fourth conviction will result in a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license.
The fines start at a minimum of $2,000, or $4,000 if your BAC was above 0.15. Additionally, there’s a two-year minimum for the ignition interlock device and a 90-day vehicle immobilization. Often, repeat offenders are also required to complete DUI counterattack schools and victim awareness panels.
Absolutely. Even if you intend to plead guilty, it’s crucial to have a seasoned attorney on your side. By pleading guilty without legal representation, you’re at the mercy of the court and may end up with a harsher sentence than necessary. An attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor or sometimes the judge to ensure you get the best possible deal. Even if you plan to plead guilty, it’s critical to have the terms of your deal established before you enter the plea, or you lose all leverage to negotiate. For more information on the Penalties For A DUI Conviction In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step.