Receiving a DUI in Florida is a very serious offense, even if no one was injured and it was a first time offense. There are a broad range of possible outcomes to any trial so circumstances dictate a lot. A conviction is necessary for a DUI sentencing, either through a guilty plea, a no contest plea, or a finding of guilt by a jury after trial. Judges are required to convict such individuals, so a DUI lawyer is crucial to ensure that individuals are properly represented in a court of law. Presuming that there was not an accident, a minor in the vehicle, the breath or blood alcohol level, if there is one, was below .15, and it is a first time offense, here are some of the penalties for DUI offenders in Florida:
50 Hours of Mandatory Community Service
All first-time Florida DUI convictions come with 50 hours of community service, and it is within the judge’s discretion to provide more. Oftentimes a “buy out” can be done, which allows individuals to buy their way out of their community service at the rate of ten dollars per hour.
Probation is required in Florida for a DUI, for a duration that cannot exceed one year, and the offender must pay for each month they are on probation. The mandatory terms and conditions of probation will be determined by the court, and generally include completion DUI School which includes not only hours of class instruction, but also a substance abuse evaluation that could require months of follow up treatment. Both the DUI School fee and the cost of any follow up treatment must be paid by the offender. If these programs suggest that an individual requires treatment, then the court will recommend the offender to the appropriate facilities. Treatment mandated by the court is not optional, and offenders must pay for this themselves.
Any individual who refuses to submit to a breath or blood test, or who has a breath or blood alcohol content below .15 will be fined between 500 and 1,000 dollars. Those who have a BAC of .15 or above, or who have a minor in the vehicle, regardless of whether they submitted to a breath or alcohol test or not, will be fined between 1,000 and 2,000 dollars. Also, mandatory court costs must be paid.
Even for a first DUI offense, individuals will have their licensed suspended for a minimum of six months and up to one year.
Without aggravating factors, like a minor onboard or an accident, jail time is highly unlikely for first time DUI offenders. However, depending on the situation prosecutors may seek incarceration for an offender, and many judges have locked up first time offenders in Florida. The maximum length of incarceration for a first time DUI offense is six months.
If One Refuses To Submit To A Breathalyzer
Many individuals believe that if they don’t submit to a breathalyzer, they can avoid many of these dire consequences, citing the test as a violation of their rights. However, when signing for a Florida license, individuals are required to submit to all such tests when requested, or they face license suspension. This is known as an “implied consent” law.
The first time one refuses to take a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test to determine blood alcohol levels, their license will be suspended for a year. This is a separate administrative suspension from to the six to twelve months of suspension that will come if they are found guilty of a DUI. A second or subsequent refusal will result in an 18-month administrative license suspension, and being charged with a first degree misdemeanor offense which is punishable by up to a year in jail.