How to Handle Your First DUI in Florida

If you are in the situation of being arrested for a DUI in Florida, it is important to be aware of Florida DUI laws and know what next steps to take to get the best possible legal outcome.

Florida DUI Laws

What constitutes a DUI in Florida is the impairment of “normal faculties” or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above.  If this is a DUI in Florida first offense, there are several penalties. If you are convicted, these can include:

florida dui laws for first-time dui offenders

  • A fine between $500 and $2000
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Losing your driver’s license for up to 6 months
  • 50 hours of community service
  • Ignition Interlock
  • Impounded vehicle

You will also be ordered to attend an alcohol and drug program and be required to attend a drunk driving school.

If you do not have a significant criminal history, this is your first DUI in Florida, and you have an experienced DUI attorney to act as your legal advocate within the state’s justice system, you are more likely to receive lesser penalties such as reduced jail time and lower fines.

The penalties will be increased when a person tests at a blood/breath alcohol level higher than .15 percent and:

  • Have a minor in the vehicle
  • Cause an accident, injury, or fatality

It is always important to have a criminal defense attorney when trying to deal with Florida DUI laws not only to understand your full rights within the justice system but also to have a powerful legal professional who can help you to increase your chances of a positive outcome.  


Facing a DUI Conviction: Additional Consequences

Florida DUI penalties can often extend beyond the judicial system if you are convicted of driving under the influence. Various areas of your life can be much harder afterward. You may not be able to obtain a professional license in your line of work — impacting your financial future and your career. Finding a job can be much harder too because you have to list the conviction on your job application.

You may not be able to rent a home — creating difficulties in your personal and family life. In addition, you may be denied a passport or restricted in your ability to purchase a firearm. Auto insurance policies will be increased to a much higher rate or canceled altogether too.

These additional repercussions make it even more important to consult with a DUI attorney. The initial short-term penalties of a DUI in Florida first offense are tough enough, but the long-term consequences can severely impact your life for years to come.


Taking Action in Handling Your First DUI in Florida  

It can be frightening and confusing when you are first arrested but know there are dedicated attorneys that work hard to help you through it.

The first step is to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon after your arrest as possible. When you have your consultation, you can discuss the details of your situation, address concerns, and get guidance for making the best legal decisions.

You only have ten days after your arrest/charge with a DUI to request a DMV Administrative Review Hearing. If you win at the hearing, you will be able to keep your driver’s license. It is called a hardship license and allows for limited driving privileges. You also have the right to waive the DMV hearing in writing within ten days and still obtain the hardship license until the conclusion of your criminal case. There are no extensions — the time frame is non-negotiable.

In addition to having an opportunity to not lose your license, you also will have the opportunity to hear all of the evidence for the case — which gives you a better chance at your criminal trial. If you do not request your hearing (it must be done in writing), then your license will be suspended on the 11th day after your arrest.


Potential Challenges to Your DUI Charge

Depending on the particular details of your case, your DUI attorney may be able to utilize one or more potential challenges to your DUI charge to help limit your penalties. These can include:

  • Did the officer have reasonable suspicion to pull you over?
  • Was there probable cause for violation of the law?
  • Were you properly Mirandized at the time of your arrest?
  • Was the Breathalyzer machine appropriately calibrated?
  • Did the police officer administer the breath test in the right way?

These are some of the questions that may be appropriate for an experienced attorney to raise in your defense.   


Call a Lawyer Immediately After Your Arrest

Dean Tsourakis has helped many people just like you. Know that it’s not hopeless. With the recent changes in Florida DUI laws, it is surprisingly easy to get arrested — but know you have the best chances for the best legal outcome with an attorney that has experience on both sides of the table as a Prosecutor and a Criminal Defense Attorney.

It’s okay if you are angry, anxious, or worried. That is normal. Call a lawyer immediately after your arrest and don’t make statements, apologize, or admit anything to the police. You have legal rights under the law and deserve legal representation.

Contact Dean Tsourakis for a free consultation.  


Other DUI related articles:

What to Do When Your Child Gets a DUI

How to Reinstate a Suspended Driver’s License in Florida

FAQ’s about the Florida Open Container Law