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What Are the Penalties for a First-Time DUI in Florida?

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Being arrested and charged with a DUI in Florida can be a stressful and potentially life-changing experience. Approximately 54,000 people face DUI charges in The Sunshine State each year, with arrest rates increasing on popular “drinking holidays” like Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve. To prevent injuries and traffic fatalities, state lawmakers have established strict policies and penalties regarding DUI offenses. But should your quality of life and standard of living be compromised by an error in judgment or a wrongful arrest?

Understanding Florida’s DUI Laws

In Florida, a motorist can be guilty of a “per se” DUI if their blood alcohol content level (BAC) registers at .08% or higher. Commercial drivers and minors are the exceptions to this policy, but only because they can be arrested for BAC levels of 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively. Some motorists (rightfully) pull over if they’re fatigued, anxious about traffic conditions, or need to sleep off the side effects of alcohol. However, an intoxicated driver can still be charged with DUI if a police officer discovers them parked on the side of the road or in a parking lot. It may seem unfair, but if you’re in a car, state law says you’re technically in control of a vehicle while under the influence. Unfortunately, this also means that law enforcement officials tend to be overzealous when charging impaired drivers, even in circumstances where the targets aren’t intoxicated.

Florida prosecutors can be relentless when it comes to DUI cases. They operate in court under the following belief: I can promote safety and save lives by making an example of the defendant. In other words, you could be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, even if your charges don’t involve reckless endangerment.

Although first-time DUIs in Florida are classified as misdemeanors, a conviction can still result in severe penalties, including:

  • A fine between $500 and $1,000
  • Up to 6 months in jail and/or probation
  • Vehicle impoundment for 10 days
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device
  • License suspension for 6-12 months
  • Up to 50 hours of mandatory community service
  • Enrollment in a substance abuse course conducted by a licensed DUI program

A DUI arrest and conviction will also appear on your permanent – and public – criminal record. A conviction can limit your career options, educational opportunities, and housing choices. To avoid a life-changing conviction, you need to retain the services of a qualified DUI attorney.

Obtain Legal Representation & Protect Your Quality of Life

Contact the DUI lawyers at Owenby Law, P.A. if you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony conviction in the state of Florida. Our results-driven legal team can investigate your case and aggressively negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf. We have an inclusive understanding of Florida’s criminal justice system and the various laws that can influence the outcome of a DUI case. With our guidance, you can preserve your clean driving record and safeguard your future.

Contact Owenby Law, P.A. at (904) 770-3141 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI attorney. We’re available 24/7 for a confidential, no-risk case evaluation.