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What Happens if You Get a DUI in Florida?

5 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

If you are arrested for a DUI in Florida, you are looking at a license suspension. But there may be other consequences too. Those depend on whether this is your first DUI and whether there are aggravating circumstances.

Under Florida law, DUI is a serious offense. It is proven there is impairment of “normal faculties” resulting from a high blood alcohol level. In Florida, this means an alcohol level of 0.08% and above.

According to the National Highway and Safety Administration’s annual traffic survey, one out of every 135 people is arrested for a DUI each year. Florida has strict penalties for driving under the influence and, if you are convicted of a DUI, the conviction will remain on your record for 75 years. In addition to penalties imposed by the law, drunk driving is extremely dangerous and often leads to serious accidents or even death. Therefore, you should never get behind the wheel if you are under the influence of alcohol. Instead, ask someone to drive you home or hire a taxi.

In the unfortunate event of being convicted of a DUI, make sure to talk to a DUI attorney about your options. If this is your first-time offense, your lawyer may be able to plead with the judge for a lighter sentence.

What Are the Consequences of a First DUI Conviction in Florida?

If this is your first DUI conviction, you may be looking at the following consequences:

  • Fines. In most cases, your fine should be between $500 to $2,000. However, if your blood alcohol level is high (0.15% or higher) or if you had a minor in the car at the time of the accident, your fine can be increased to $4,000.
  • Community service. You will be required to serve mandatory community service of up to 50 hours. 
  • Probation. If you are sentenced to probation, the period of your probation won’t be longer than a year. 
  • Incarceration. Even on a first-time offense, you may be sentenced to imprisonment — at the discretion of the court. If so, your maximum sentence will be less than six months. However, if your blood alcohol level was exceptionally high (0.15% or higher), this can be increased to nine months. In some cases, you may be required to serve your sentence in an alcohol rehabilitation center instead of jail. 

How to Reinstate Your License After a First DUI Conviction in Florida

Florida has very strict laws when it comes to driving under the influence. Even if this is your first conviction, your license will be revoked for a minimum of six months. 

When your license has been revoked for a period between 180 days to a year from your conviction date, you can apply for a hardship license. The purpose of this provision is to allow convicted drivers to avoid losing employment and fulfill any obligations that require driving. To apply for a hardship license, you will need to show the court or DMV that driving is a necessity for you. You will need to apply for the license within ten days of your conviction.

To receive a hardship license, you may often be required to attend a DUI school or rehabilitation center. If your license has been reinstated, you need to complete a required course within 90 days after reinstatement. Failure to do so will lead to the cancellation of your driver’s license. 

When you apply for a hardship license or the reinstatement of your full license privileges, you will need to enroll in an advanced driver improvement course and pay related administrative fees. You will also be required to have proof of bodily injury liability insurance and property damage liability insurance. 

What Are the Consequences of a Second DUI Conviction in Florida?

If you are convicted of a second DUI in Florida, you will be facing additional consequences including bigger fines and an increased risk of jail time. Note that in the majority of second-offense DUI cases that took place within five years of the first DUI, offenders are sentenced to a minimum of ten days in jail. 

The maximum jail terms for a second DUI are the following:

  • Up to nine months for a standard second DUI
  • Up to one year if your alcohol level was 0.15% or higher 
  • Up to one year if you were driving with a minor
  • Up to one year if there was a DUI-related accident that caused property damage and injuries.
  • Up to five years if your DUI-related accident involved “serious bodily injury.”

If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test the first time, your license will be suspended for up to one year. If this is the second time you’ve refused to take the test, it will be suspended for up to a year and a half plus there are additional criminal charges that may apply. 

If you are charged with a second DUI, applying for a hardship license will be significantly more complicated. In these cases, you need to challenge the suspension of your license through a formal review process. In most situations, this will require the assistance of a lawyer. 

Getting a Florida DUI Case Lawyer

When dealing with a serious offense such as drunk driving, the help of a specialized DUI/DWI attorney is often necessary. This way, you will get a realistic overview of your options and you may be able to receive a lighter sentence.

Traditional DUI lawyers can take between $3,000 and $5,000 to start on a case. However, Unbundled Legal Help specializes in affordable representation and realistic payment options.

The Florida DUI attorneys in our network generally start a case for $1,500 to $2,500 and up. Let us match you with a local DUI attorney for a free consultation today.

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