Getting one DUI is usually bad news. If you’re unlucky enough to get a second DUI, you have good reason to feel nervous.
The charges for a second DUI are usually harsher than they are for the first one, mostly because it’s meant to discourage you from doing this again. Judges tend to think that a second offense implies a habit instead of a one-time mistake.
In Florida, there are a long list of potential penalties that you could be facing if you have a second DUI on your record. The best thing you can do is be prepared and understand what could be coming your way.
Read on for some advice from a DWI defense attorney to help you out.
In Florida, there are certain maximum penalties that you can face after your second DUI conviction. How severe the consequences are will depend on how long it’s been since your first DUI.
If your first conviction was less than five years ago, your penalties are going to be harsher. This is all about the patterns, like we said above — judges will think that you haven’t learned your lesson.
If it was longer than five years ago, on the other hand, your penalties won’t be as harsh. You’ll still face punishment, but it won’t be quite as bad.
Here’s what you can expect for both time periods.
Within Five Years
If your first DUI was within five years, you can expect at least ten days of jail time along with other penalties.
The amount of jail time that you can get for a second DUI conviction in Florida is nine months for a “normal” DUI conviction. That’s a conviction where your BAC was just above the .08 limit.
If your BAC was at .15 or higher, however, you can face up to a year in jail. You can also get a year of jail time if there was someone under eighteen in the car with you, if you caused minor injuries, or if there was some property damage associated with the crash.
The maximum time that you can get is five years, which only happens if there was a serious bodily injury caused by your DUI.
Jail time isn’t the only penalty, though. You can also expect to pay a fine of $1000 to $2000 if your BAC was between .08 to .14. If it was .15 or above, like the higher maximum jail time, you’ll also face a higher fine. In that case, it will be anywhere from $2000 to $4000.
There are also consequences related to your car and driving privileges since this is a crime related to driving. You’ll lose your license for a minimum of five years and your car might get impounded for thirty days.
When you get it back, you’ll also have to install an ignition interlock device before you can get your license again.
After Five Years
If your second DUI comes more than five years after your first, there will still be consequences. However, they won’t be quite as harsh as the ones we listed above.
First of all, you’ll get your license back much faster. Instead of being without a driver’s license for five years, you’ll lose it for 180 days. That’s roughly six months. Although that’s not ideal, it’s still much better than going without for five years.
There also isn’t a mandatory ten-day jail sentence that you would have to serve, unlike if the first offense was less than five years before.
The rest of the penalties, however, are the same. You can still serve jail time and have to pay anywhere from a $1000 to $4000 fine, depending on the circumstances.
In certain cases, you might be able to qualify for a “restricted” or a “hardship” license. This would allow you to drive to essential places even with a suspended license.
Essential places in this case usually mean locations like work, school, church, home, and doctor’s appointments. In Florida, you can only qualify for this after the first year of the administrative suspension. During that initial time period, you won’t be able to drive at all and will have to figure out alternative ways to get around.
Hardship licenses are considered on a case-by-case basis. You might be able to qualify for one after your first year of suspension, but it’s best not to count on it unless you have extreme circumstances.
What to Do
So what do you do if you’re facing your second DUI charge?
The first thing to do is to check your driving record to see if your prior DUI even shows up. This is especially important, even if it was an out-of-state DUI.
States usually share information, so out-of-state DUIs should show up on your record before long. The Florida DHSMV will use your driving record to see if this is your second DUI or not.
A prior DUI can be reported at any point, so don’t try to omit the information or hide it if it’s not there. If you try to apply for a hardship license, they’ll also ask you if there are any DUIs missing from your record.
Finally, the one thing you should be sure to do is to hire a defense attorney. It’s important that you don’t face these charges on your own.
An attorney understands the system and can try to make sure that you face less jail time, lower fines, and that you’re represented well in court. You might even be able to get your charges reduced depending on the circumstances.
No matter what, don’t do this on your own.
Hire a DWI Defense Attorney
Without a good lawyer, you could find yourself facing the worst case scenario for each penalty. Don’t let that happen to you.
While there’s no way to make the penalties disappear, that doesn’t mean you have to accept the maximum fines and jail time. A good DWI defense attorney will be able to work with you and prepare the best defense possible.
Our legal team can help you prepare. Get in touch with us for a free consultation today.