A DUI conviction is a serious matter with permanent consequences. A DUI conviction requires a mandatory criminal conviction on your record. This means you are not eligible to seal this case and you must disclose the conviction on any future job applications and/or professional licenses.
An arrest for a DUI can happen to anybody, but what do you do if it happens to you? The first thing you need to know is that there are important deadlines you must comply with in order to assert your rights.
You only have 10 days to petition DHSMV for a review of your driver’s license suspension.
In the state of Florida, your driving privileges will be suspended if your blood alcohol content is .08 or higher or for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test. The police can obtain your blood alcohol content through the use of a breathalyzer or, under certain circumstances, by drawing your blood. While your driving privileges are revoked, you still have the right to make the State prove that your driving privileges were correctly suspended or revoked. In order to properly assert your right to a hearing on this issue, you must request it within 10 days of your arrest, in writing.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The facts and circumstances in each DUI case are different. Your case can have several possible outcomes:
- A plea bargain reached for a reduced charge
- A plea bargain to DUI (the conditions of these pleas are dependent on whether you have been previously convicted of a DUI and if so, how many times.
- A jury or non jury trial
- Back on Track Program
Obviously, our firm always strives to achieve the best possible outcome: dismissal. A DUI can be dismissed if the State has insufficient evidence to proceed to trial. Often times, although the State may be unwilling to dismiss the case against you, they may be willing to reduce the charge against you to Reckless Driving or in some cases a charge of Careless Driving which is a civil infraction.
What Kind of a Plea Offer Can I Expect?
FIRST OFFENSE PENALTY – In Florida, a first-DUI offense is often charged as a traffic misdemeanor, but there are still many significant penalties associated with a conviction.
For those who have tested at a blood alcohol content level between .08-.149%, then you will face the following penalties:
- up to 6 months in jail
- fines up to $1,000
- license suspension
- community service
- DUI education classes
- vehicle immobilization
For those who have tested at blood alcohol content level above .15%, penalties are increased. Some of the penalties include:
- up to 9 months in jail
- fines up to $2,000
- license suspension
- community service
- ignition interlock device on vehicle
A first offense for DUI comes with license revocations of 180 days to 1 year, which is effective upon conviction. A defendant may apply for a hardship license in the county where he or she lives. This may be helpful for you if you need your license in order to keep your job or maintain your education. If referred, DUI school completion and alcohol treatment may be required after which, you may apply for a hardship license at any Administrative Reviews Office near your place of residence.
Even if you wait until your revocation period ends to reinstate your license, you will still need to provide proof of enrollment in or completion of DUI school and alcohol treatment. If you fail to complete the course within 90 days of your reinstatement, the department will cancel your license until you provide proof that the course was completed.
At the time of reinstatement, whether for a hardship license or a full license, you must take the required examination, and pay $115 administrative fee and $60 reinstatement fee and any license fee required. Proof of liability insurance on the arrest date will be required or proof of liability coverage and a $15 reinstatement fee will be required.
SECOND OFFENSE PENALTY – A 2nd DUI conviction that occurs after 5 years of another conviction will result in a number of serious penalties, including the following:
- 180 day to 1 year license revocation (without hardship license)
- 9 months in jail
- up to $2,000 in fines
- installation of an ignition interlock device for up to a year
If your BAC levels were above .15%, then penalties are increased to:
- a year in jail
- $4,000 in fines
- ignition interlock device for two years.
According to FHSMV, you cannot reinstate early for reinstatement of your license due to hardship when serving penalty for a second DUI. The full revocation period must be served before requesting driver license reinstatement. The second DUI conviction within a five-year period of the first will result in a five-year revocation.
You may apply for a hardship license at the Administrative Reviews Office after serving one year from effective date of revocation. DUI School, and treatment, if referred, must be completed and you must have a favorable recommendation from the Special Supervision Services Program to be eligible for a hardship license. If given approval to reinstate early for hardship, you must present this approval to the driver license office. You must remain in the Special Supervision Services Program for the duration of the revocation period to retain your hardship license.
Even if you wait until the revocation period ends in order to apply for reinstatement of your license, you will still need to provide proof that you completed or are enrolled in the required DUI school and treatment. Failure to complete the course within 90 days after reinstatement will result in cancellation of your driver license by the department until the course is completed.
THIRD DUI OFFENSE PENALTY – If you’ve been arrested for a third DUI, then you are looking at felony penalties for your offense:
- a year in jail
- fines up to $5,000
- license suspension for 10 years
- installation of an ignition interlock device for 2 years
A THIRD DUI IS A POSSIBLE FELONY IN FLORIDA
A third DUI may be a Felony conviction if:
- it is a repeat offense or it involved an accident with serious bodily injury (s. 316.193 (2),(3) F.S.)
- a third DUI conviction within 10 years or a fourth or subsequent DUI commits a third degree felony (not more than $5,000 in fines and/or 5 years imprisonment).
A third DUI conviction in more than 10 years will result in a 180-day to 1-year revocation, unless the last 2 of the convictions fall within 5 years in which case a 5-year revocation will apply. You are not eligible for a hardship license, but must wait out the revocation period. A third DUI within a 10-year period will result in a 10-year revocation.
While it may seem like a third DUI will strip you of all driving privileges, this is not so. You can eventually get your license reinstated after a certain time period. The FHSMV will require you to serve at least two years of your license revocation before you can file for a hardship license with the Administrative Reviews Office. A hardship license is often given only for work or school purposes and provides limited driving privileges.
In order to obtain a hardship, you will need to complete DUI School and a treatment program if required. You will also need to present a positive recommendation from the Special Supervision Services Program. If you receive approval to get an early reinstatement, you will need to show this to the driver license office in your area. You will have to remain in the Special Supervision Services Program for the rest of your revocation period in order to maintain your hardship license.
You can also seek to have your license reinstated after the revocation period has passed. In order to get it reinstated, you must complete the previously required actions for a hardship license, such as DUI School and a treatment program. If you do not get the program completed, you may have your license cancelled. You will be required to take an exam for either your full license or hardship license and must pay a $115 administrative fee and a $60 reinstatement fee. There may be other fees involved as well.