Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a “wobbler offence” in Florida, meaning that it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the circumstances. First or even second DUIs with no aggravating factors will usually be charged as a misdemeanor, however even a misdemeanor DUI can have serious consequences if convicted.
Under Florida law, anyone found in control of a vehicle while under the influence of any chemical substance, including alcohol, illicit drugs, or even prescription medications, that affects and impairs that person’s normal faculties can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). The state of Florida also stipulates that anyone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is above the legal limit.
The penalties for a misdemeanor DUI will depend on how many prior DUI convictions you have on your record.
First Offense: A first offense DUI is punishable with a fine of as much as $500 to $1,000, a 6-month to 1-year revocation of the defendant’s driver’s licence, jail time of up to 6 months, immobilization or impoundment of the vehicle for 10 days, and/or 1 year’s mandatory reporting probation.
Second Offense: A second offense DUI, if it’s within 5 years of the first offence, will result in a mandatory 60-month revocation of the offender’s driver’s license and a 10-day jail term.
If more than 5 years have passed since the first offense, then a defendant can expect fines of between $1,000 and $2,000, a 6-month to 1-year revocation of their driver’s license, jail time of up to 9 months, immobilization or impoundment of the vehicle for 30 days, and/or 1 year’s mandatory reporting probation.
Third Offense: A third offense DUI within 10 years of the prior conviction will result in a mandatory 120-month revocation of the offender’s driver’s license and a 30-day jail term. This will then qualify as a felony DUI.
If it’s been more than 10 years since the prior conviction, offenders can see fines of $2,000 to $4,000, a 6-month to 1-year revocation of their driver’s license, jail time of up to 1 year, immobilization or impoundment of the vehicle for 90 days and/or 1 year’s mandatory reporting probation.
Additionally, if the convicted offender had an alcohol level of .20 or higher and there was someone 18 years of age or younger with them in the vehicle, then the fines will be doubled and the first offense’s maximum imprisonment duration will be brought up to 9 months, and a second offense’s penalty increased to 12 months.
DUI is a serious offense, even when charged as a misdemeanor. A conviction can affect your employment and your future, lead to expensive court fees, increase your insurance rates dramatically, and remain on your criminal record. It will also increase the potential penalties if you ever face a subsequent DUI charge.
Working with an experienced DUI defense attorney in Florida can help you protect your rights and potentially get your charge reduced or dismissed. Depending on the details of your case, your attorney may help you prove your innocence or have the sentence reduced to avoid or reduce some of the costs of a DUI conviction such as an ignition interlock device (IID).
If you are facing a misdemeanor DUI, contact GMV Law Group, LLP to schedule a consultation with a Florida DUI lawyer to explore your legal options and begin building your defense. We have English and Spanish speaking representatives available to help you take the next steps toward protecting your legal rights.