Criminal DUI Penalties

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Florida is a crime punishable by a combination of incarceration, fines, probation, ignition interlocks and community service. How much of all that you’ll be faced with depends on the details of the crime, your personal criminal history and the skill of your defense attorney.

If you want to minimize the severity of those penalties, securing the services of an experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer is imperative.

At The Ansara Law Firm, we recognize your whole life has the potential to be upended by this. You could be out of a job, a scholarship or child custody. It can be overwhelming. You don’t have to take it on by yourself.

Our track record of success in South Florida DUI cases has gained us the confidence of our clients and this community.

The DUI penalties outlined in F.S. 316.193 are dependent on a host of factors, and there is often a great degree of judicial discretion. That means there is opportunity for us – even at the penalty phase – to mitigate the impact this will have for you.

First-Time DUI Offenders

First-time DUI offenders are typically the best positioned for an advantageous outcome. That’s because despite the heavy push in recent years for harsher DUI penalties, the courts will generally show greater leniency to someone with no prior record of the same offense. Of course, that assumes there were no aggravating factors, such as a blood-alcohol concentration that reached 0.15 or higher or a minor in the car or a crash that caused serious injury or death.

A first-time DUI conviction with no extenuating circumstances can result in:

  • A fine of between $500 and $1,000;
  • A jail sentence of up to six months;
  • Possible ignition interlock requirement (at judge’s discretion).

In some cases, the courts may impose requirements to complete probation and/ or substance abuse treatment or counseling.

If you had a minor in the vehicle when you were arrested or if your BAC met or exceeded 0.15, the judge would be mandated to require you install ignition interlock devices for at least six months. Your penalty could also be increased to a maximum nine months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

You also will be required to complete DUI school before you receive a hardship reinstatement of your license.

If you are under 21, you can be deemed “under the influence” with a BAC of just 0.02. If your BAC was 0.05 or higher, you face a maximum six months license suspension, effective immediately, and it will remain into effect until you complete a substance abuse evaluation course.

Second-Time Offenders

Someone with a prior DUI conviction can be expected to face harsher penalties, both because of statute and judicial discretion. Keep in mind that for the purposes of prior offenses, out-of-state convictions count, as do convictions for Boating Under the Influence (BUI).

A second-time DUI conviction with no extenuating circumstances can result in:

  • A fine of between $1,000 and $2,000;
  • A jail sentence of up to 9 months;
  • Mandatory ignition interlocks (at your expense) for at least one year.

This charge two may carry a term of probation with additional requirements, such as attending substance abuse counseling or treatment. If it’s your second conviction in five years or third conviction in 10 years, you must complete DUI school following your conviction.

If you have a minor in the vehicle, your penalty is increased to up to 12 months in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Third and Subsequent DUI Offenses

Those who are facing their third conviction for DUI within 10 years of their second conviction will be charged with a third-degree felony.

Felony charges are much more serious than misdemeanors because they carry with them the real possibility of prison (not just jail) and because the presence of a felony charge on your criminal record will impede your ability to vote, keep or obtain certain jobs, scholarships and housing. You want to avoid a felony conviction if at all possible.

Penalties for a third-time DUI conviction (within 10 years of the second) include:

  • Maximum five years in prison;
  • Fine of between $2,000 and $5,000;
  • Mandatory minimum 2 years of ignition interlock device.

If your third DUI conviction occurs more than 10 years after the second, then penalties are:

  • Maximum jail sentence of up to 12 months;
  • Fine of between $2,000 and $5,000;
  • Mandatory ignition interlocks for at least two years.

Convictions for a fourth-time offense – regardless of how long ago the previous offenses were – are third-degree felonies, carrying that possibility of up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Penalties for DUI Crashes

If you cause an accident due to driving impaired, you can expect increased penalties.

Specifically:

  • For a DUI crash with property damage, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail;
  • For a DUI crash with serious bodily injury, it’s a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison;
  • For a DUI crash that results in death, it’s a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison – with a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years;
  • For a DUI crash that results in death and from which you fled, it’s a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Keep in mind that if you drive while your license is suspended for DUI, DUI manslaughter or vehicular homicide and you cause death or seriously bodily injury to another person by operating a vehicle in a careless or negligent manner – regardless of whether you were drunk at the time – you will be facing a third-degree felony.

An experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer can help you decide the best strategy to help reduce the chances of incarceration and other serious DUI penalties.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.