In some states, driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a traffic violation. However, this is not the case in Florida. Florida law takes DUI offenses very seriously, and if convicted of a DUI in Florida you will receive a criminal conviction on your record. First-time offenses can result in jail time and large fines, and multiple offenses could even result in a felony conviction and extended periods of time in prison.
Additionally, a criminal conviction can count against you in many areas of life. On top of impacting your employment opportunities and ability to obtain professional licenses, it can also count against you in child custody proceedings and could affect whether a court grants you custody of your children if you go through a divorce. In order to have the best chance of avoiding conviction, representation from an experienced Orlando DUI lawyer is essential to your defense.
The Law Place Orlando DUI lawyers are a group of established attorneys with a wealth of experience in many different criminal defense cases in Florida. We draw upon our experience and knowledge of legal proceedings throughout criminal law and traffic violations to develop holistic, tailored defense strategies for our clients in DUI cases. We are there for our clients throughout every step of the process and work tirelessly to achieve the best outcome possible in every case we work on.
Our criminal defense attorneys are available for a free consultation to discuss your case and help you to decide how to move forward. If you are facing a DUI charge, do not assume that this has to result in a conviction. Assess your options and call The Law Place today at (941)-444-4444 to schedule a time to discuss your case with an Orlando DUI conviction lawyer.
DUI Charges in Florida
Florida Statute 316.193 defines the offense of driving under the influence as when a person is driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Typically, this is evidenced by the impairment of a person’s normal faculties, or by a score of 0.08 or higher on a blood or breath alcohol test.
Under Florida law, DUI convictions are taken very seriously and are classified as criminal convictions, as opposed to traffic violations. This means that in addition to criminal penalties such as long periods of jail time, a conviction will also result in a permanent criminal record. Similarly, in addition to criminal penalties and repercussions, a DUI conviction can also mean that you are more likely to be found responsible in a personal injury case if any injured parties file a lawsuit against you.
The penalties for a DUI in Florida are harsh, and the impact that a DUI conviction can have on your life should not be underestimated. If you are facing conviction, you have options available to you that may be able to lessen your charges. If possible, a conviction should be avoided at all costs, and skilled legal representation is vital to giving you the best possible chance in the courtroom.
First Offense DUI
Typically, in Florida, a first-offense DUI is a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 6 months in jail, probation, a fine up to $1,000, and a driver’s license suspension of up to 180 days. For a standard first-time DUI offense, there is no mandatory minimum jail time, but incarceration is still a possibility if convicted.
However, penalties are enhanced if the offense involved a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or above or a minor under 18, even for a first-time offense. This can include increased fines, up to $2,000, and up to 9 months in jail. Similarly, an ignition interlock device is mandatory for six months if the offense involved a minor or a BAC of 0.15 or above.
Second Offense DUI
Provided there are no aggravating factors, a second offense of DUI may also be a misdemeanor charge in Florida. Penalties are increased from a first offense to up to 9 months in jail and a $1,000 – $2,000 fine. If the second offense occurred within 5 years of the first, there is mandatory jail time of 10 days. Your driver’s license may also be suspended for up to 5 years.
Third Offense DUI
Florida law outlines harsh penalties for repeat DUI offenders. Usually, a third DUI offense in Florida that occurs within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction is a felony charge. If convicted, this carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days and up to 5 years in prison in total. Your driver’s license can be suspended for up to 10 years, and you can be fined between $2,000 – $5,000.
Other penalties for a third offense felony DUI include court-ordered substance abuse courses, community service, probation, vehicle impoundment for up to 90 days, sobriety monitoring, and a mandatory ignition interlock device fitted on your vehicle.
If the third offense occurs more than 10 years after a prior DUI conviction, likely it will be charged the same way a first DUI offense would be.
DUI Involving Property Damage
If you are arrested for a DUI incident that damaged someone else’s property but didn’t cause injury, you will likely be charged with a DUI involving property damage. Under Florida law, this a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, 12 months probation, driver’s license suspension for 6 – 12 months, and a fine of between $500 – $1,000.
A Judge may also impose community service, a psycho-social evaluation, substance abuse treatment, community service, and vehicle impoundment.
DUI Involving Serious Bodily Injury
If you are arrested for a DUI and the incident involved injury to another party, you will likely be charged with DUI involving bodily injury or DUI involving serious bodily injury. The nature of the injuries sustained by the other party will determine the charge. Bodily injury is determined as serious in this context when the injuries sustained pose a serious risk of death, personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.
DUI involving serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony. Typically, penalties for this offense include 5 years of incarceration, 5 years probation, and a fine of up to $5,000. Often cases involving personal injury will also lead to a personal injury lawsuit in civil court, where the driver may be responsible for compensation.
In the unfortunate event that a DUI incident resulted in a fatality, the charges and associated penalties imposed by the State of Florida are severe. A DUI that caused death could result in a DUI manslaughter charge. In Florida, this can be either a first or second-degree felony, depending on the specific circumstances of the case.
A second-degree felony DUI manslaughter charge carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a $10,000 fine. If the driver failed to stop at the scene, surrender their information, and administer aid, this could result in a first-degree felony charge. In this situation, the driver could lose their freedom for an extended period of time. Prison sentences for first-degree DUI manslaughter can be up to 30 years, in conjunction with hefty fines.
Either a first or second-degree conviction of DUI manslaughter will result in a felony on your criminal record, which can have long-lasting detrimental impacts on your future.
How Can a DUI Conviction Impact My Life?
In addition to the criminal penalties you may face from the courts due to a DUI conviction, such as jail time and fines, other repercussions of a DUI can severely impact your life. For example, a DUI conviction will usually result in a driver’s license suspension, and a criminal conviction can affect your ability to rent a house or cross international borders in the future.
As opposed to many other traffic violations, such as reckless or careless driving, in the State of Florida, a DUI conviction is a criminal offense and will result in a criminal record. If convicted, a DUI will remain on your criminal record for 75 years after the offense.
However, if you are arrested for a DUI but not subsequently convicted, perhaps because the state dropped your charges or your case is dismissed in court, you will not face the same criminal record repercussions. Although a DUI arrest without conviction can stay on your record for up to 7 years, if not convicted, you have the option to expunge this from your record. This means that a DUI arrest will not flag on a background check and should not impact your ability to find work, for example, in the future.
Driver’s License Suspension
In the State of Florida, a DUI conviction is usually followed by a driver’s license suspension. How long your license is suspended depends upon the nature of the incident and whether it is a repeat offense. For a third DUI, for example, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to 10 years.
Suspension or revocation of your driving privileges will likely impact almost every element of your day-to-day life. Without the ability to drive, individuals can struggle with getting to or even maintaining employment, childcare responsibilities, and everyday errands. Similarly, a DUI conviction often results in probation, and the inability to drive to probation appointments can be particularly challenging.
Most employers will conduct a background check during the recruitment process. Similarly, applicants are usually required to declare their criminal convictions when applying. In some circumstances, an employer will not disqualify an applicant because of a DUI. However, it can simply make an applicant less competitive than others applying for the same position. In these situations, although a DUI didn’t immediately disqualify you, the conviction still resulted in you missing out on employment opportunities.
However, some jobs and specific industries have strict policies on criminal convictions and will not hire anyone with a DUI conviction on their record. In addition, a specific DUI conviction may disqualify you from a position that requires the operation of a company vehicle. Specific industries where a DUI may make employment more challenging include healthcare and medicine, teaching and daycare, government or military, and positions involving sensitive information or security clearance.
A criminal conviction of any kind on your record can impact your ability to borrow money. This can extend to credit cards, car finance, and mortgages to buy a home. With a DUI conviction, many banks and lenders will consider you a ‘high-risk’ client and may turn down your application to borrow money as a result. In some situations, you may be subject to higher interest rates to reflect this level of risk.
Most people will need to borrow money in some form at some point in their life. These barriers to borrowing money and credit can seriously impact an individual’s ability to progress in life. This can have a detrimental impact on both the individual and their family and can leave them feeling as if they are stuck and not able to access certain opportunities.
Applying to College
All college applicants are required to disclose any criminal convictions during the application process when choosing prospective colleges. Some schools have strict policies surrounding criminal convictions, and a DUI on your record may be grounds to immediately deny your application.
Whereas some colleges may take into consideration the circumstances surrounding the DUI, for example, if it was a felony or misdemeanor, whether anyone was injured or if the incident involved overly high blood alcohol content. Although a university may not decide to deny your application because of a DUI, a conviction may make you less competitive than other potential students and mean that your application is not chosen above other applicants.
In some situations, a college may ignore your DUI conviction and it will not affect your application. However, additional complications can arise if you apply for financial aid to support your college fees. Whether your DUI is a felony charge, or if it involved controlled substances, could impact your eligibility for financial aid support. Similarly, if you are convicted of a DUI while in college, your financial aid could be withdrawn.
If college is something that was always in your plan for the future, a conviction that prohibits you from attending can be devastating. If you are facing a DUI conviction and are concerned about how this could impact your academic future, seek advice from an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible to give you the best chance of avoiding or reducing a conviction.
Many countries will not grant a visa or allow entry across their borders to individuals with a criminal conviction on their record. Typically, the entry process asks travelers to declare any convictions and may conduct background checks. Whether you are traveling for pleasure or business, a DUI conviction could mean that your entry to specific countries is denied.
If you are traveling for pleasure, such as a family holiday, this can be particularly distressing if it means you miss a family holiday, or your family can’t visit a specific country without leaving you behind. Similarly, this poses challenges if you are traveling for work or business purposes and could result in you being unable to fully complete your work duties if international travel is required. This may count against you for future job opportunities.
In some situations, a DUI conviction does not immediately prohibit you from entering. It can depend on the specifics of your case, for example, how long you spent in jail, but a DUI will almost certainly make entry more complicated. Many countries view hiding or lying about a DUI conviction poorly and could deny entry based upon that alone. Some commonly visited destinations for Americans where entrance with a DUI conviction could be more challenging include:
- United Arab Emirates (Dubai, Qatar).
- South Africa.
Many occupations require a professional license to work in that position, such as physicians and pilots. These licenses are often the culmination of years of study and hard work to receive the necessary accreditation.
Unfortunately, not only can a DUI conviction impact your driver’s license, but in Florida, licensed individuals could also face losing their professional license. Particularly for industries in which a license is an indication of good character, trust, and morality, a DUI conviction can be problematic. The institution responsible for your accreditation will have a detailed policy on how a DUI conviction may impact you. Specific professionals that may face repercussions to their license include the following:
- Aviation pilots.
- Physicians and doctors.
- Mental health professionals.
- Real estate agents.
- Law enforcement officers.
- Insurance agents.
- Teachers and educators.
A DUI conviction on your record will almost always result in changes to your auto insurance policy. Many insurers will consider you a high-risk driver following conviction and typically, the amount you pay for your insurance will reflect this risk. On average, car insurance premiums across the United States increase by approximately 80% following a DUI conviction.
Additionally, if you have a DUI, you may be required to purchase higher levels of liability coverage above the minimum requirements for drivers in Florida. These higher levels of coverage will be more expensive than the basic requirements for drivers without a conviction. Specifically in Florida, drivers with a DUI may be required to purchase coverage up to $300,000 per occurrence for bodily injury liability ($100,000 per person) and $50,000 for property damage. This may also need to be evidenced through an FR-44 form.
Can I Get Back My Driving Privileges?
In Florida, it is likely that your driving privileges will be suspended because of a DUI conviction. Understandably, many individuals seek to have their license reinstated as soon as possible as the inability to drive makes everyday tasks and even working problematic. Some DUI offenses are eligible for hardship reinstatement licenses that allow you to get back on the road legally within certain restrictions.
In Florida, a hardship license can be granted purely for work or business purposes to allow you to maintain your livelihood. Typically there is a mandatory suspension period before you are eligible to apply, and you may have to complete training courses such as an advanced driver improvement course.
Although not being able to drive is frustrating, it is crucial that you do not drive a motor vehicle while your license is suspended. If caught driving on a suspended license, you could face additional charges, fines, jail time, and an even longer period of license suspension.
How Can I Avoid a DUI Conviction?
Hiring a skilled attorney to represent you in your DUI case is essential to increase your chances of avoiding conviction or having your charges reduced. Your attorney will conduct a thorough analysis of the state’s case against you and work with you to develop a defense strategy specific to your circumstances.
To secure a conviction, law enforcement officers must follow strict procedures throughout your case, and the prosecution must prove that you are guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Depending on your case, an attorney may be able to use a range of defenses.
Potential DUI Defenses
- An unlawful traffic stop. This could be that the law enforcement officer did not have justifiable cause to stop you, or they didn’t follow to correct legal procedures during the stop.
- Insufficient probable cause.
- Inadmissible breath test results.
- Improper field sobriety tests.
- Procedural grounds.
Similarly, your attorney should be an expert negotiator who may be able to utilize weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you to negotiate a plea deal. This could result in you pleading to the lesser charge of reckless driving, which carries less severe penalties and is also not considered a criminal conviction in Florida.
Why Choose The Law Place DUI lawyers?
The Law Place Florida DUI lawyers have over 75 years of combined experience defending our clients in many diverse cases, from first-time misdemeanor offenses to complex cases in federal court. Due to outstanding client reviews, trial skills, awards, and length of practice, most of our attorneys have the highest possible AVVO lawyer rating.
If you are represented by The Law Place, you can rest assured that your case is in safe hands and that we will go above and beyond to provide you with the best defense possible.
Free Consultation and Case Evaluation
At The Law Place, we are a law firm that believes everyone has the right to skilled and reputable legal advice. For anyone facing a DUI conviction, we are proud to offer a free consultation and case evaluation with an Orlando DUI attorney.
In the consultation, you can discuss strategy and the potential defense options available to you with no fees or any requirement to proceed with representation from The Law Place. If you wish to proceed, we will outline our fees transparently before you agree, to ensure you are fully aware of the process and what it will cost you before agreeing to representation.
Award Winning Attorneys
Our team of criminal defense lawyers has extensive knowledge of DUI law that they will apply to your case and build the best defense possible for your individual circumstances. Our attorney David Haenal has even won an award from the State of Florida for his comprehensive understanding of DUI law.
A DUI charge is not just a traffic violation but a criminal offense. As such, an experienced attorney is more crucial than ever to reduce the likelihood of a criminal conviction on your record. The Law Place team has a combined experience of over 75 years practicing law and criminal defense in a breadth of cases, including DUIs. This experience allows us to predict how the prosecution may act in your case and the arguments they may use. We will use our comprehensive experience to develop strategies to improve your defense.
We Speak Spanish
The ability to communicate openly and comfortably with your attorney is an essential element of successful cases. At The Law Place, our attorneys are fluent in both English and Spanish to better support this communication. Our DUI attorneys are adaptable and will always go above and beyond to meet our client’s needs and ensure they feel as comfortable as possible throughout their cases. Our multi-lingual team is just one example of this.
Contact The Law Place Today!
If you are facing DUI charges, you will need a reputable criminal defense attorney with experience handling DUI cases in the Florida court system. The Law Place attorneys are equipped with the knowledge, expertise, and resources to build the best possible defense for you in your DUI case.
A DUI conviction can change your life. To defend yourself against conviction, contact The Law Place Orlando DUI attorneys for a free consultation at (941)-444-4444.