Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I had my 21st birthday celebration two days ago. I got wasted and drove home. Unfortunately, I also got stopped and arrested for my first Florida DUI. I am wondering what penalties I might face and whether I might have to spend time in jail. This is not the way I wanted to start out my life. Can you help me?”
Overview of penalties for first DUI in Florida
Like all states, Florida has severe penalties, even for a first-time DUIs. In Florida if you are arrested and charged with DUI and the state can prove “impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above” it’s like you will be convicted of DUI.
What penalties are you likely to face for your first Florida DUI?
- Fines of not less than $500, or more than $1,000. With Blood/Breath Alcohol Level (BAL) of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000.
- Mandatory 50 hours of community service or additional fines of $10 for each hour of community service required.
- Total period of probation and incarceration up to 1 year but jail time of no more than 6 months. With BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 9 months. Although the court may decide that jail time can be deferred or credited towards a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program.
- The court will also require you to complete a DUI alcohol education course before they will reinstate your hardship license.
- License suspension from six months to one year. This criminal license suspension is separate from the administrative license suspension discussed below, but sometimes the suspension can be served consecutively.
Under some conditions, in addition to the penalties outlined above, the state may also confiscate your vehicle for up to 10 days.
What if I refuse to take the chemical test after my DUI arrest?
You didn’t mention anything about your DUI arrest, but it’s important to also note that drivers who are operating their motorized vehicle in Florida have given their consent to submit to a chemical test if they have been arrested for DUI.
Drivers who refuse to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test will not only have their refusal entered into evidence against them in court, but will also have their driver’s license automatically suspended for one year. Drivers who submit to the test but have a blood alcohol concentration which is higher than 0.08% will have their license suspended for six months.
The suspension is also considered an administrative penalty, which means it will be enforced even if you are eventually found innocent. Suspensions may be challenged in court, but challenges must be submitted within a specified number of days from the DUI arrest.
Are you likely to go to jail for a first Florida DUI?
Let’s get back to your question. So, are you likely to go to jail for your first Florida DUI? No, although the maximum jail time is 6 months, there is no mandatory jail time and judges may look at different ways to punish you.
The likelihood of jail-time increases, however, if your BAC is greater than 0.15%, you have a passenger who is under the age of 18 in your car at the time of your DUI arrest, or if you caused an accident involving bodily injury.
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