Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is never advisable. It is a criminally accountable offense and is extremely negligent. However, we all know that life is not perfect at times. If you have been arrested for a DUI charge and it is your first offense, you may be experiencing a range of emotions. You may be feeling anxious, depressed, or ashamed as a result. Your driver’s license may be at risk.
While The Law Place never condones drinking and driving, it is important to understand your options after you get a DUI. We have a team with over 75 years of combined experience, ready to fight on your behalf in your drunk driving case. Especially if it is your first offense, you need a good attorney to help you through the process and make sure you come out the other side unscathed.
Contact our 24/7 lines today to schedule your free consultation and get the legal advice you need in this trying time. Just call us on (941) 444-4444.
What Is a DUI?
If you have been pulled over for drinking, or are afraid of what might happen if you are, it is always important to understand what a DUI is and what qualifies as one.
DUI is a criminal charge associated with drinking and driving. In Florida, this is legally the same as a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), a term that may be used interchangeably with DUI.
If you are pulled over, and a police officer suspects you of being under the influence of alcohol, they may ask you to perform a series of tests to prove it. Under the law, you do not have to comply with these tests, although doing so will result in you being taken to the police station and your car being impounded until you can prove you are sober.
The roadside tests can include a coordination exam, a verbal test, and, most importantly, a breathalyzer test, all of which are examples of a field sobriety test. A breathalyzer is a device that you blow air into, which measures your BAL (Breath Alcohol Level). BAL is important in measuring how impaired you might be and provides legal evidence for your potential conviction. Blood tests also measure BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). A BAC or BAL level of 0.01 – 0.07 is considered able to operate a motor vehicle. BAC of .08 and over is above the legal limit and considered drunk driving. If you above 0.08, expect to be arrested and charged with a DUI.
What Do You Do After Your First DUI?
The first thing you must do after your DUI is to hire or contact your attorney. A qualified DUI lawyer will guide you through the steps and ensure you are relatively protected during your processing and eventual charging. Your attorney will examine the legal justifications for your arrest and the process that led to it. If it is found that the police acted in an unlawful manner in your DUI arrest or did not have reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place, a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, FL may be able to protect you.
If you are convicted of a first-time DUI, you will face fines, probation up to 1 year, and possible community service. Fines for a first-time DUI conviction can range from $500-$1,000. If your BAC is over 0.15, considered dangerously drunk, or you had a minor in the vehicle, it can range from $2,000 to $5,000. You will have your driving privileges taken away for 180 days to 1 year from the date of conviction. You can apply for a hardship reinstatement of your driver’s license if you need to drive before then for work or family reasons. However, you may have an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) installed in your vehicle with which you must prove you are not drunk driving again. Your license and driving privileges will be under intense scrutiny by the court, so you must be especially careful not to risk another DUI.
How Likely Is Jail Time for a First DUI Offense?
Incarceration for your first-time DUI is at the discretion of the court. Usually, a first offense with no criminal record will not result in imprisonment. However, the severity of the incident will shape the ruling of the court. If your DUI resulted in property damage, serious injury, or death, the court would not look favorably upon you.
Jail time is not very likely for a first-time offense. Your personal criminal record, character testimony, and severity of the situation will all come into the court’s consideration when determining the extent of consequences for your drunk driving conviction. If your BAC or BAL was 0.15 or above, the consequences under Florida law are more severe.
If prison or jail time is determined by the court, the time can vary depending on the severity of your case. According to the State of Florida, a first conviction will not result in more than six months of imprisonment. If your BAC is above 0.15, you will not receive more than nine months. Multiple convictions will result in longer imprisonment and possible permanent suspension of your license.
What Happens If Someone Under 21 Gets Their First DUI?
When a minor or under-21 gets arrested for a DWI, the consequences can be severe.
Having a BAC of 0.02 as a minor in Florida is considered driving under the influence, as persons aged under 21 are not allowed to be drinking in the first place. Florida employs a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking and driving. Under-21 drivers under the influence have their license suspended immediately for a time period of six months. If the individual refuses field sobriety tests, their license is suspended for up to one year. Fines typically remain the same, but there is little to no leeway in the eyes of the court for underage drunk driving.
Will a DUI Go on My Record?
It is very important to know that a DUI in the state of Florida will be applied to your record for 75 years. That is essentially your entire life. Even for a first offense, your DUI will continue to be attached to your personal file.
If a minor is convicted of DUI, it is possible to have this record expunged. However, Florida’s zero-tolerance policy is extremely strict when it comes to underage drinking, and it requires an experienced lawyer for expunging records.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer?
One of the critical decisions you might face after being stopped on suspicion of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is whether or not to submit to a breathalyzer test. Understanding the implications of this decision is crucial, as it can significantly impact the course of your DUI case.
In many states, including Florida, implied consent laws are in place. These laws mean that by simply holding a driver’s license and operating a vehicle on public roads, you’ve implicitly agreed to submit to chemical testing if suspected of DUI. Refusing a breathalyzer test can lead to immediate consequences, regardless of whether you were actually impaired or not.
The refusal to take a breathalyzer test often results in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. This suspension can be for a longer period than if you had taken the test and failed it. Additionally, the fact that you refused the test can be used against you in court, potentially being seen as an indication of guilt.
It’s important to weigh these factors carefully if you find yourself in a situation where you’re asked to take a breathalyzer test. Consulting with a Tampa DUI lawyer as soon as possible after an arrest can provide you with guidance tailored to your specific situation and jurisdiction.
Is it possible to have a DUI refusal dismissed and what are the implications?
Having a DUI refusal dismissed can be challenging, but it is possible under certain circumstances. A DUI refusal refers to the act of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer or chemical test when suspected of DUI. If it can be demonstrated that the law enforcement officer did not have lawful grounds to request the test, or if there were procedural errors during the arrest, the DUI refusal charge may be dismissed.
However, this often requires a strong legal defense and a thorough understanding of DUI laws. It’s important to note that a dismissal of the refusal charge does not automatically dismiss the DUI charge itself. Legal representation is strongly recommended to navigate these complexities.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My First DUI?
Yes, you do need a lawyer for your DUI. Although not required by law, you have the right to request a State defense attorney if you cannot afford to enlist the aid of a private law firm. At The Law Place, we recommend hiring your own personal attorney as State-appointed lawyers are overworked and underpaid, resulting in legal aid that is lacking.
Having a lawyer ensures you the best possible defense for your first-time DUI. Otherwise, you risk greater consequences for your mistake.
What Happens After Your First DUI? FAQ
What are the typical consequences of a first DUI offense?
For a first DUI offense, consequences typically include fines, potential jail time, and license suspension. The severity of these penalties can vary based on the specifics of the offense and state laws.
How does a first offense DUI impact your driving privileges?
A first offense DUI usually results in a driver’s license suspension. The duration of this suspension can vary but often ranges from a few months to a year, depending on state DUI laws and the circumstances of the offense.
Are first time DUI offenders required to pay court costs?
Yes, first time DUI offenders are generally required to pay court costs, which are separate from any fines imposed for the DUI charge. These costs cover the expenses associated with processing the legal case.
What is a restricted license, and can I get one after a first DUI offense?
A restricted license is a type of license that limits when and where an individual can drive, typically granted after a DUI offense. Eligibility for a restricted license after a first DUI depends on state laws and specific case details. It often allows individuals to drive to work or school during their license suspension period.
How do subsequent DUI offenses differ from the first DUI offense in terms of penalties?
Penalties for subsequent DUI offenses are generally more severe than for a first DUI offense. Repeat offenders may face longer jail sentences, higher fines, extended license suspensions, and other penalties.
What are the immediate legal steps following a DUI charge?
Following a DUI charge, it’s important to consult with an attorney experienced in DUI laws. You may need to appear in court, and an attorney can help you understand your rights and prepare for the legal proceedings.
What are the long-term consequences of an impaired driving conviction?
An impaired driving conviction can have long-term consequences, including a permanent mark on your driving record, increased insurance rates, and potential impacts on employment, especially for jobs requiring driving.
How long is the driver’s license suspension for a first DUI offense?
The length of a driver’s license suspension for a first DUI offense varies by state but typically ranges from a few months to a year. Some states have automatic license suspension policies upon arrest for a DUI.
Is automatic license suspension common after a first DUI?
Yes, many states enforce an automatic license suspension upon arrest for a DUI, even before a court conviction. This administrative suspension is separate from any suspension that may result from a court conviction.
Hire a Qualified DUI Attorney at The Law Place Today
Have you been involved in a drunk driving incident? Is it your first DUI, and are you unsure of what to do?
Contact The Law Place today to schedule a free consultation with our qualified DUI criminal defense attorneys. Our entire team works together on every case. We will leave no stone unturned in your drunk driving case. Our thorough examination of your arrest, processing, and personal record will provide the evidence necessary to defend your case to the highest extent possible.
Don’t leave it to the court to decide your fate. Protect your driver’s license in the event of a DUI arrest with our law firm.
Call The Law Place today on (941) 444-4444.