Many individuals facing a DUI charge are facing their first criminal offense, and the process ahead can be overwhelming. With over 60,000 DUI arrests in 2013, Florida ranks in the top 5 states to prosecute drunk drivers. Any DUI conviction carries serious consequences, as Florida law allows for strict penalties to deter both residents and visitors from driving while drunk. Even a first charge of DUI can lead to jail time, fines, and negative consequences outside the courtroom.
If a driver is detained by law enforcement on a suspicion of driving under the influence, the officers may request a breath, blood, or urine sample to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC). The driver legally is not required to give this sample, but they will face consequences if they refuse, including a suspension of their driving privileges. However, if the individual’s BAC is shown to be.08 or above, the driver can then be arrested for DUI.
Fla. Stat. 316.193 outlines the potential penalties for those convicted of driving drunk in Florida. These consequences grow in severity based on the offender’s prior conviction record. For a first DUI offense, the driver faces any of the following consequences:
• Up to 6 months in jail
• A fine between $500 and $1000
• Suspension of driving privileges from 6 months to 1 year
• Requirement to install an ignition interlock device(IID)
• Community Service
• Requirement to participate in an alcohol treatment program
However, if the offender’s BAC was above.15 at the time of the arrest or if a minor was in the vehicle, they face even more severe penalties. The consequences include up to 9 months in prison and an increased fine between $1000 and $2000. There will also be a mandatory period of 180 days in which the offender must have an interlock ignition device installed on the vehicle. This system requires a clean breath sample in order to operate the vehicle, and the offender will be responsible for the installation, maintenance and removal fees, which can total into the hundreds of dollars.
Outside of the courtroom, a conviction for DUI can have other lasting consequences. The offender will likely face a greatly increased auto insurance rate, or they may be dropped altogether from their current policy. Those in certain professions, such as a teacher, pilot, law enforcement officer, or doctor, can face disciplinary actions in their career or may even in be in jeopardy of losing their jobs.
While a defense attorney may be able to negotiate lesser sentencing in some areas, DUI charges include several mandatory consequences in Florida, including a suspension of driving privileges. The abundance of negative consequences make is easy to see that driving drunk is never worth it.