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 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.
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.
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.