According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, 2017 saw some 43,899 DUI violation tickets issued, and 24,334 convictions for driving under the influence.
Everyone knows the dangers of driving while intoxicated; the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or using drugs can lead to serious injury and death. Yet people still continue to do it, every day, in Florida and across the nation.
We’ve put together this no-nonsense guide to the penalties associated with DUIs to help you understand the consequences if you make the mistake of driving while intoxicated. Read on to find out what happens when you get a DUI.
What Happens When You Get a DUI? 6 Possible Outcomes
Please note that the following consequences of a DUI arrest are geared toward first-time offenders. If you already have a record of driving under the influence, the penalties you face will be even stiffer.
You Will Face Jail Time and Fines
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, you could be looking at fines, mandatory community service, the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle, and incarceration. The possible penalties include:
- Fines ranging between $500 and $2,000
- Jail time of up to six months
- A minimum of 50 hours community service
- Suspension of driver’s license for up to six months
- Impounding or immobilization of your vehicle for 10 days
You may be subject to an IID if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was higher than .08%. Anyone who had a minor in the vehicle with them at the time of their DUI arrest, or whose BAC is .15% or higher, will receive a mandatory IID for a period of six months.
Your License May Be Suspended
A first-time offender is subject to an administrative license suspension of six months. In addition, a DUI conviction also carries with it a separate license suspension ranging from six months’ time to one year. These two suspensions are sometimes concurrent.
After 30 days’ suspension, first-time offenders may be eligible for a “hardship license.” This will allow them to drive to work or school, religious services, and medical appointments only. If an individual is discovered driving to any other destination, the hardship license can be revoked and additional penalties may apply.
Your Car Insurance Rates Will Go Up
Even after you’ve successfully completed any jail time and periods of suspension, the DUI arrest will continue to affect your use of a motor vehicle. One of the most common consequences is handed down by your insurance company, in the form of higher premiums.
Auto insurance companies look at DUI offenses as a risk, and will raise your rates in accordance. You may be able to negotiate lower rates by completing an alcohol education program or attending a treatment center.
You Will Likely Need a Treatment Program
The judge in a DUI case may order the offender to attend alcohol education classes, go to rehab, or take some other step related to the treatment of alcohol abuse. This may be a condition of parole, or it may help reduce the fines and penalties that the offender faces.
If you are ordered to attend such a program and do not successfully complete it, you may be subject to additional penalties and consequences.
In the state of Florida, attendance at an alcohol education, assessment, and treatment program is mandatory for first-time offenders.
Your Charges Will Go On Your Record
A conviction for DUI in Florida remains on your record for 75 years. For most people, that means your record will be permanently marred by this conviction. For the rest of your life, you will be obliged to answer “yes” when asked if you have been convicted of a crime.
The conviction will appear any time someone runs a background check on you, whether it’s for a job opportunity, an apartment rental, or financial reasons like getting approved for a mortgage or getting a loan from your bank.
Naturally, you will want to do everything in your power to prevent being convicted of this crime. Once you get behind the wheel of a vehicle after having indulged in alcohol or illicit drugs, your only hope to keep your record clear is to secure the services of an experienced DUI lawyer and hope that they can help you win in court.
You’ll Require the Services of an Attorney
That brings us to the final fact to remember when you have been charged with a DUI. You will need to have an attorney who specializes in DUI cases. It is not necessary to have your attorney present for your arraignment. However, after you have been arraigned and posted bail, or if you cannot post bail, you will want to contact a law firm as soon as possible.
It’s important that you choose a law firm whose attorneys handle DUI cases exclusively. Your tax attorney or the lawyer who represented you in your divorce will not have the experience or the know-how to properly represent you in this situation.
A DUI law firm will offer you a complimentary, no obligation initial consultation, so that you can discuss your case with the lawyer and determine whether or not to hire them.
While “getting off scot-free” isn’t an admirable goal when it comes to this dangerous, even fatal action, remember that everyone makes mistakes. If you are willing to pay your debt to society and — perhaps most important of all — learn from this mistake and never drive drunk again, then there’s no reason you should be penalized in every aspect of your life for the remainder of your life. That’s where your attorney can be invaluable.
Closing Thoughts on Florida DUI Cases
Now that you know what happens when you get a DUI, we hope that you make smart choices going forward and are never even arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. If you are, however, then be sure to contact The Greico Law Center for compassionate, expert legal assistance.