12 May Understanding DUI in Florida
A DUI means Driving Under the Influence (of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance). It is a criminal offense in Florida to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. In 2017, there were 5,125 alcohol-involved crashes in Florida. In 350 of those crashes, there were fatalities.
Drunk driving is one of the top causes of fatal traffic accidents in Florida. It constitutes 26% of all road accidents.
DUIs are often proved by showing that the defendant has a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. Also, a person is guilty of a DUI if they were driving under the influence of other controlled substances that impair their faculties.
Do you have pending DUI charges against you? Or you know someone who does? Then this article is just for you. It contains helpful information that you need to know about DUI in Florida.
DUI Conviction: What Should I Know About It?
It is a very scary thing to be arrested for drunk driving as a resident of Florida. If you are arrested, you will have to worry about concerns like:
- Whether you will lose your driving privileges or not
- How much it will cost you to defend yourself
- How much you will have to pay as fine
- The potential of having a criminal conviction on your record for life
When the court passes a judgment and finds a person guilty, the person has been convicted. A judgment with guilt is a conviction. In legal terms, a conviction is known as an “adjudication”.
Why should you be concerned about a DUI Conviction?
There is something known as an “Adjudication Withheld” in law. If you are convicted for a crime but your adjudication is withheld, it means that the court has found you guilty, but it has withheld a final conviction.
In Florida, the court generally issues adjudication withheld in exchange for something. In most cases, if you are the guilty defendant, you must agree to complete specific actions before the court gives you an adjudication withheld.
This agreement may involve paying certain fines, completing a probation sentence, or doing something else. This gives you a way to avoid having a criminal conviction on your records. This can be very helpful. In the future, no convictions will appear when, for example, a prospective employer carries out a background check on you.
Unfortunately, Florida law expressly forbids courts from granting adjudication withheld decisions in cases of drunk driving. This means that it is impossible for you to avoid the conviction in your records. In the State of Florida, a DUI conviction will remain on your record for 75 years. You can only avoid the criminal record if you are found not guilty of the charges.
Also, a criminal conviction does not remove the possibility of a civil suit for damages against the convict. This means that you may still pay damages if a person was hurt while you were driving under the influence.
Is It Possible to Erase a DUI Conviction from my Record?
Yes, it is. Fortunately, Florida law allows for some drunk driving convictions to be permanently removed from a person’s record. The process to have this done can be extremely complex.
If you want to have a DUI conviction erased completely from your records, you must meet some very strict requirements. First, you have to apply for the removal of the DUI conviction from your records. Then, you have to meet the requirements before your request is approved.
The process of applying for and receiving a criminal expungement (erasing your criminal record) is something that you should do with the help of an experienced Polk County criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer will inform you of all of the required details. They will also attend to those details and address any potential problems before they arise.
What is the Punishment for DUI in Florida?
The law has put penalties in place for offenders in Florida who are guilty of DUI. There are certain factors that determine the punishment which a judge will give a DUI offender.
One factor is the number of previous DUI convictions the person has been guilty of. Another factor is the circumstances of the incident. The judge can impose jail, fines, and license revocation in Polk County, Florida.
- Fines: If this is your first conviction, your fine will make you pay a fine between $500–$2,000. The fine will be between $2,000–$4,000 if your blood alcohol level is .15 or higher, or you have a minor in the vehicle.
- Community Service: If the conviction is your first conviction, you will be made to serve a mandatory 50 hrs of community service. Also, you may be asked to pay an additional fine of $10 for each hour of the required community service.
- Probation: For those getting their first conviction, the total period of probation and imprisonment will not be more than 1 year.
- Imprisonment: The court only metes out this punishment at its discretion. The convict may be sentenced to residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program. For a first-time convict, the judges will give a sentence of not more than 6 months. If your blood alcohol level is .15 or higher you will receive not more than 9 months. The same will apply if there was a minor in the vehicle.
If you are a habitual offender, you risk the revocation of your driver’s license for 5 years. And if you are arrested up to 3 times within a 5-year period, you may be regarded as a “habitual offender”.
What If I’m Underage and Arrested for DUI?
If you are under the age of 21, you are not allowed to have a blood alcohol of .02% or more if you do not obey this rule, you are not guilty of a criminal offense. But your license will be suspended for six months. You will get a one-year license suspension if you are a second offender.
If you are under 21 and your blood alcohol level was .05% or more, you will have to complete a DUI education program. You are to meet that requirement before license reinstatement.
As an underage driver, if you refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, your license will be suspended for one year. If you are a second-time offender, the suspension will be for 18 months.
What Do I Do if I am Under Arrest for DUI?
If you get arrested for DUI, the first thing to do is: get an experienced attorney. Certain attorneys specialize in serious traffic offense cases such as drunk driving.
Despite the fact that you can hire an attorney, the best resolution to make is to not drink and drive. You must remember that driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. And the State of Florida may decide to withdraw that privilege if it has lawful grounds to do so.
If you are in Polk County, Florida, then you are in luck. You are well placed to get all the help you need from Sara Jones Law, P.A. We are criminal defense lawyers with a passion and commitment to help our clients achieve positive results. We have the requisite experience and skills to deal with DUI cases.
Our clients receive the best representation because we know how criminal charges can negatively impact their lives. So we put in all we can to ensure that we defend them diligently. Contact us here or call (833) 455-4811 to get speak with one of our attorneys today.