Your First Florida DUI Conviction: What Do I Do?

If you have never been in trouble before, it is normal to be unsure about the events proceeding your arrest and uneasy about the judicial process. There are several DUI laws that have been implemented over the last few years which harden the penalties. Below are some of the most common questions regarding a first conviction and what to expect.

What are the general consequences of a DUI conviction in the state of Florida?

Each state within the U.S. follows the same baseline limit at 0.08 percent for the blood/breath alcohol content. If you are found to have a higher BAC than 0.15 percent, are driving under the influence with someone under eighteen (18) years old in the vehicle, or if your impairment caused injury, fatalities, or an accident, your judicial penalties will be greater. Retaining an experienced attorney will give you the best chance at a more positive outcome with the fewest number of limitations possible.

What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI?

In the state of Florida, DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. Some states like to be technical with the charge itself in saying that DWI is strictly due to alcohol while DUI can include drugs, alcohol, and any prescribed or illegal drugs.

In order to be rightly convicted of a DUI, the judicial system is responsible to prove that you were obviously impaired while in complete physical control of the vehicle. The state of Florida, as well as the rest of the U.S., uses a combination of breathalyzer tests, blood tests, field sobriety tests (such as walking in a straight line or reciting the alphabet backwards), as well as the law enforcement observations to determine impairment.

What does it mean to be “in control” of a vehicle?

Determining physical control of the vehicle is pertinent in the determination and intensity of your charges. In order to be considered in control, the key must be in your “constructive possession”- meaning, it is within close enough reach to be accessed. In order for the vehicle to be considered “operable”, you must be in the driver’s seat or close to it. Another pertinent detail in determining the operability of your car is the ability for it to be moved. For example, if you have a flat tire or a dead battery, your vehicle is then considered inoperable; therefore, you would not be considered to have physical control of it.

What Criminal Charges and Penalties might I face as a First-Time DUI Offender?

If you have no substantial prior criminal history, your penalties might not be as great as someone who does have other charges. A first-time conviction could assign a $500 fine, probation for up to twelve (12) months, a six (6) month license suspension, and up to six (6) months jail time. You might also have to attend a drug and alcohol rehab program, driving school, or assigned extended hours of community service.

For a first-time DUI offense, you may be assigned up to a $1,000 fine, up to a six (6) month jail sentence, a possible six (6) month driving suspension, and extended community service hours. Some kind of driving school and/or drug and alcohol program is normally given as well.

For second, third, and fourth DUI convictions, the jail sentences, assigned fines, probationary periods, and license suspensions are all dramatically increased.

What other consequences might I suffer from a DUI conviction in Florida?

If you are convicted of a DUI, it might render some of the freedoms you have. This might make it difficult or impossible to purchase a firearm or obtain a passport. You might be unable to retain different professional licenses or obtain employment. In regard to your car insurance, the premiums are likely to skyrocket due to liability. Normally, attending driving school and completing the proper terms set forth helps to lower your insurance again.

What challenges might I pose in regard to my DUI conviction?

There are many challenges we are able to seek out depending on the nature and circumstances of the case. We will always investigate and ensure that the officer had probable cause that you broke the law and that reasonable suspicion was present in order to pull you over in the first place. We will question to ensure the officer read your full and complete set of Miranda Rights at the time of the arrest.

The following lists the rights that should have been read in their entirety:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

It is always possible that the breath tests and calibration of the Breathalyzer were not properly completed. Blood or breath specimens could always be mishandled by the lab or there could have been issues with the actual blood draw itself. As you can see, there are multiple logistics that need to be thoroughly checked to ensure your DUI conviction is not a wrongful one.

What happens at a DMV Administrative Review Hearing?

You only have ten (10) consecutive days after your arrest to request an Administrative Hearing. The request must be made in writing and include all of your information, and a statement including the date of suspension and the county in which you received the notice. No extensions are granted, so be sure to file your request within those ten (10) days. If you decide not to challenge the suspension, your license will be suspended on the 11th day. If the hearing is won, you will be granted permission to keep your driving privileges. An Administrative Hearing allows you to hear all of the evidence collected by the state, which will also help you at your criminal trial regardless if you win the hearing or not. Requesting a hearing will also grant you a forty-two (42) day temporary driving permit strictly for business purposes.

What are the different Hardship Licenses and how do I get one?

There are two (2) different hardship licenses that you may be eligible to apply for. An employment hardship license only lets you drive to and from work with no exceptions. A business hardship is a little more lenient but still imposes restrictions. With this, you are allowed to drive to and from work, drive for educational or medical purposes, and to and from church.

In order to obtain either hardship license, you must first serve a ninety (90) day driving suspension. If you challenge your suspension and request an Administrative Hearing, both the ten (10) day temporary permit and the forty-two (42) day permit do count toward those ninety (90) days. Therefore, you would only have thirty-eight (38) days of hard suspension.

Prior to applying for a hardship license, you must also complete any mandated drug and alcohol program as well as proof of enrollment in driving school. You will also have to pay an administrative fee, and reinstatement fee, and a license fee. You will also be required to show proof of insurance and retake the driving exam.

How do I get my Driver’s License reinstated after getting a DUI?

It is crucial that you enroll and have proof of enrollment in DUI driving school and have the course completed within ninety (90) days of reinstatement. Any court mandated drug or alcohol rehab program must be completed before your driving privileges will be reestablished. You will also have to pay another administrative fee, a license fee, a suspension fee, and a reinstatement fee as well as proof of an up to date auto insurance policy.

As you can tell, a DUI conviction is a serious matter that has the potential to affect many parts of your life. It is crucial to follow the appropriate procedures and retain incredible representation.

We hope you find this information helpful and useful. If you have any questions, please do not be afraid to contact us!

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