Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (prescribed or illegal) is one of the most common criminal offenses with some of the most severe punishments in the State of Florida.
If you’ve been arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs in the State of Florida, having an experienced Florida DUI lawyer representing you could make all the difference.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about your DUI charge and hiring the right DUI law firm.
With a combined 50 years of experience in DUI and Criminal courts in the State of Florida, our Florida DUI Attorneys can:
His heart skipped a beat when he saw the blue flashing lights in the rearview mirror. He had a long day. A long week really.
He put in 10 hours at the office. It was late, he was tired, and he didn’t think he drank enough to be impaired.
But now he’s being pulled over. It sinks in immediately. Everything is in jeopardy.
Will he lose his job?
How will he explain this to his wife?
How is he going to get to work?
Our Florida DUI Lawyers
Mary Katherine Bleckley
What are the Penalties for First-Time DUI Charges in Florida?
There are various degrees of criminal punishments and penalties for DUI charges which are set forth in the Florida laws and regulations. Below we outline those penalties and how to best navigate the process in Florida with your criminal defense attorney.
Administrative License Suspension
When arrested and charged with DUI, if your blood alcohol level is above a .08 or you refuse a breath, blood, or urine test, you will look at a DHSMV Administrative Suspension that will take effect 10 days after the date of arrest, and we have to take immediate steps to ensure you are able to secure a Business Purpose Only License to allow you to continue driving for work and necessity.
If you’ve been found guilty and been convicted of driving under the influence in the state of Florida it is likely that you will receive twelve months’ probation. While on probation you will be required to meet with a probation officer and follow guidelines set by the court. If you ever find yourself in violation of your probation, it may be extended, or you could be sent to serve your sentence in jail.
It’s likely that you will be prohibited from consuming alcohol or going to establishments where the sole purpose of the establishment is to serve alcohol, such as bars and clubs.
Probation supervision costs roughly $50 a month and once you have completed half of your probation, your attorney may file a motion for early termination. If possible, we will terminate your probation sooner.
Random Urine Samples
You should also expect random urine samples to be taken to test for alcohol and drugs in your system.
Your DUI school is a 12-hour course and will include a substance abuse evaluation. If a recommendation for treatment is made after your substance abuse evaluation, you will be required to complete treatment as a condition of your probation, which can range from 12-21 weeks in general.
A fine will be imposed for first-time DUI charges. The amount of the fine you receive will depend on your BAC at the time of the incident and if you have any prior DUI convictions.
If it is a first-time DUI, and you had a blood alcohol level of .15 or below, or refuse your test, you will be fined $983.
However, if your blood alcohol level exceeded .15 at the time of the incident you will likely need to pay a fine of $1583 and have an ignition interlock placed in your vehicle for six months. If you have prior convictions for DUI the fines will increase based on the number of prior convictions.
License Revocation After Conviction
Another common penalty for a first-time DUI is the revocation of your driver’s license. For a first-time offense, it is likely that the driver loses his or her license for a period of six months. Additionally, you will be required to carry greater insurance premiums and drivers are required to carry FR44 insurance before they can have their license reinstated, which is approximately $5000 a year for three years
If you’ve had your license revoked, you may be granted certain limited driving privileges. The DHSMV and Court may allow you limited driving access under a Hardship License or Business Purpose License. These are temporary licenses that allow you to drive to a certain destination throughout your license suspension period.
It’s also common for those convicted of a DUI to be required to complete 50 hours of community service. This requirement has been modified with Covid-19. In consideration of Covid-19, those who are required to complete community service may opt to buy out their hours for a per-hour price set by the court.
It’s also possible that your vehicle is impounded for ten days following your incident. This will require you to pay a fee to have your vehicle returned.
Court fees will be another expense when you’re convicted of driving under the influence. You will be responsible for various filing fees and other court costs which can add up.
Although there are standard penalties for DUI Charges, it’s important to keep in mind that every case is different. There are many factors at play when determining whether your charge will see enhanced penalties. The severity of the incident will have a major impact on your penalties. For example, damage to property or bodily injury will result in enhanced penalties.
If you are convicted of driving with a DUI, this charge will result in you having a criminal record. In Florida, DUI’s are mandatory Adjudications and are not eligible for settlement or expungement, which is why it is so important to fight the charge when you can’t.
Florida DUI Charge Timeline
There are two types of proceedings brought in Florida against those charged with Driving Under the Influence, criminal cases, and administrative suspensions. Below we explain what those cases consist of and walk you through the stages.
The first appearance, or bond hearing, is required by law to take place within 24 hours of your arrest. Here, the judge will formally advise you of your charges and set your bond. You can either hire a bond company to bond out or pay the bond personally.
If you’re able to pay the bond yourself, your bond money can later be put towards paying any court costs. Bond money is put up to the court to let you out of jail and is returned when you show up to your hearing.
If you fail to appear in court on the summons date, you forfeit your bond money. If you had hired a bond company and fail to appear on your court date you will be indebted to the company and they may send your debt to collections.
Formal Review Hearing
The purpose of the formal review hearing is to contest the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. This hearing will usually take place within 42 days of your arrest and challenge, or if it is a first-time DUI, we will often accept the suspension and take steps to ensure you will have a hardship license for the duration of the criminal case.
At the arraignment hearing, you will enter your initial plea of guilty or not guilty. If you’ve hired an attorney to handle your case, it’s likely you won’t attend your arraignment. This is typically a quick hearing, and your attorney will enter a plea on your behalf while negotiating with the State’s Attorney Office.
Pre-trial hearings or pre-trial conferences will happen frequently before your case goes to trial. These hearings are essential to progress meetings where your DUIattorney and the attorneys for the State Attorney can update the judge on the status of the case. It is not always necessary for you to attend these conferences if you have legal representation and most likely your lawyer will call or meet with you to update you on the progress of your case.
Requesting a Hearing
Throughout this period, your criminal defense lawyer may file motions on your behalf in an attempt to lessen your charges. A motion is a formal document filed with the court for the purpose of asking for some kind of relief, such as allowing you to travel or suppressing evidence that is illegally obtained, and everything in between.
When your DUI attorney or the state attorney files a motion, there will be a hearing scheduled which will give both sides an opportunity to argue their motion and the judge will make a ruling on that motion. You will most likely receive updates from your criminal defense lawyer on the outcome of these hearings and it won’t be necessary that you attend.
There are two possibilities for a trial, a bench trial or a jury trial. In a bench trial, a judge will hear your case and make a determination based on the facts presented at trial, and in a jury trial, your case will be heard by a jury of 6of your peers. If you’ve been charged with a DUI you will generally want your case to be heard by a jury to attempt to receive the fairest and impartial trial possible..
Ten Day Rule
The ten-day rule relates to the suspension of driving privileges following your incident. The Administrative DHSMV suspension will be in effect starting the date of your offense and you or your lawyer will have ten days from the date of your offense to either accept or challenge your suspension. Any criminal suspension of your driver’s license starts from the date of your plea.
The ten-day rule refers to the ten days following your DUI arrest where you have the option to either challenge or accept the suspension. If you’ve never had a DHSMV suspension you can elect to accept the suspension and enroll in DUI school in ten days, and you must provide proof of enrollment to the DHSMV Administrative Office.
Due to Covid-19, you must schedule a telephonic hearing to enter your decision to accept or challenge the suspension. If you challenge your suspension, you must request a formal hearing within ten days.
Once you request your formal hearing, you will have 42 days of business-only driving privileges. Before the expiration of the 42 days, a hearing will be held. You or your lawyer will present a case as to why the suspension should not be upheld.
It’s important to take the necessary action as soon as possible. If you fail to take action within the ten-day period, you will not be entitled to the hardship license.
RIDR Diversion Program
RIDR stands for Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism. Hillsborough Diversion program is designed to reduce DUI’s and subsequent DUI incidents. It’s the State Attorney and court system’s attempt at lessening the likelihood that a person charged with their first DUI will be a repeat offender.
This program offers those who have been pending DUI charges an opportunity to have their charge reduced to the lesser charge of reckless driving. However, this isn’t an option for everyone, and certain criteria need to be met.
The diversion program is offered to first-time offenders with no accident or vehicle damage and a blood alcohol level below .2 at the time of their incident.
The right DUI lawyer can work with the State Attorney to see if you’re eligible for the RIDR diversion program and having your charge lessened to reckless driving.
Why You Should Hire A DUI Lawyer
There are many reasons why you should consider hiring a lawyer to fight your DUI charge. A DUI charge is one of the most complicated criminal charges in the state of Florida outside of cases involving forensic evidence like DNA. Every detail must be accounted for and analyzed by a professional.
There are literally thousands of precedent cases that apply to DUI, and if your attorney isn’t familiar and proficient with these cases and all of the administrative and criminal laws, you will be at a disadvantage. This isn’t an area of law a lawyer can just dabble in to be effective.
There are strict requirements and procedures which law enforcement must abide by when handling a DUI arrest. In some instances, DUI cases can be mishandled by police officers and it will benefit you to have an experienced DUI lawyer on your side who knows what to look for to win your case.
Another key consideration when deciding to hire a lawyer is the severity of the charge. A DUI charge can come with severe punishment, and a lawyer familiar with the Florida DUI laws may be able to help to reduce your charge for a first-time offense.
For example, a criminal defense attorney can work with the State Attorney to get you driving privileges or even lessen your charge to reckless driving as discussed above.
Further, if it is a difficult case, you need to have an attorney with extensive trial experience, and our firm completed over 300 criminal trials.
Types of DUI Cases We Handle:
How Long Will My DUI Case Take in Florida?
From start to finish, a person who’s been charged with a DUI can expect their case to last around 6 months. Usually, at the end of the six months, your case will either be headed to trial or the parties will have reached a resolution. There can be circumstances that require a case to take more or less time, but this is a fair estimate of the average length of a case.
Although six months is typical, Covid-19 restrictions have led to prolonged court proceedings and the duration of your case may be unpredictable.
How to Fight a DUI Charge Without a Lawyer?
Going at it alone won’t be easy and it can be very risky. Fighting your DUI charge without a lawyer will require endless hours of research on your part to become familiar with the court processes and procedures and become knowledgeable about relevant and up-to-date case law.
Even then, you will be up against experienced state attorneys whose entire job is prosecuting and punishing those who find themselves in your position. Before you go it alone it’s also worth it to consider what’s at stake.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI you are facing criminal charges. Not hiring an attorney will higher the likelihood that you will be convicted of all charges, have your license taken away without privileges, face probation, and walk away with a criminal record.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a DUI Lawyer?
There are several factors that will determine the cost of your DUI lawyer. Our services may be more expensive if it is your second, or third offense, or if your incident involved a vehicle accident or property damage.
The greater the harm caused by your incident, the lengthier the court proceedings and the more hours your lawyers will be working for you. However, our firm is happy to work with you and we do offer payment plans to our clients.
Should I Get a Lawyer for my First DUI?
You may think that you don’t need to hire a lawyer for your first DUI. Keep in mind that a DUI is a serious criminal offense, and you could potentially be facing severe punishment and are punishable by up to at least 180 days in county jail.
Working with an experienced DUI lawyer is necessary to secure the best outcome for you and your future. The money you spend on your DUI attorney will be worth the time, money, and freedom you can save by hiring the best DUI attorney.
What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need for a DUI?
It’s important to hire the right lawyer. You will want to hire a criminal defense attorney who is local and is familiar with the case law specific to your geographical area. It’s also important to hire a criminal defense attorney who practices DUI law regularly and not one who sometimes works on DUI cases.
An inexperienced lawyer could be the difference between you winning and losing your case. A DUI lawyer who is familiar with Florida case law and court systems will be your best chance at walking away from your charge with the most minor consequences available.
So, Will, Your Lawyers Communicate With Me?
This is a scary time for you. With so much on the line, you deserve to be kept informed every step of the way. Our firm leverages technology to enable us to update our clients in real-time in each step in their case.
We have a custom portal you can log into from your phone to see documents as they come through, check on the status of your case, and check on the status of any court dates and whether you must attend.
Your case gets a custom texting line so that you can communicate with the entire DUI team by simply sending a text. And of course, if you read our reviews you’ll realize that no law firm is so adored by past customers for their ability to communicate.
Questions to Ask Your DUI Lawyer
Reduce Your Penalty With Experienced Florida DUI Defense Attorneys
We have handled thousands of DUI cases successfully.
We will fight to block out unnecessary evidence to get you a lesser punishment. We’ve filed motions to dismiss charges and block out evidence such as video, breathalyzer results, and more. Our criminal defense attorneys will do everything in their power to make sure you only go to trial if it is absolutely necessary.
Three of our lawyers have been named in the Top 100 Trial Lawyers for Criminal Defense in the state of Florida. Two more have been recognized in the Top 40 Under 40 list by the National Trial Lawyers Association and also have Super Lawyer rankings
Denmon Pearlman’s Florida DUI attorneys know how to earn reduced or dismissed charges in the courtroom. Let us help you get back on your feet.
Florida DUI Lawyers
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, you need to act fast. The first ten days after your arrest are vital to challenging a license suspension. Reach out to our Florida DUI lawyers and schedule a free consultation to get started.
We have your back. Whatever you might be suffering from, accidents, injuries or medical malpractice, we have you covered throughout Florida