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What Are the Consequences of a First-Time DUI Offence in Florida

According to the latest Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Annual Uniform Citation Report, Florida police arrested 33,723 people on criminal driving under the influence (DUI) charges in 2021, of which 352 were arrested in Leon County. If you were among those arrested that year, you already know you face significant consequences if convicted. However, if you have never been arrested for DUI, you might not realize how severe the penalties for DUI are.

At least, that is our assumption based on how many people continue to be arrested for the crime despite widespread public outreach efforts designed to highlight the dangers of drunk driving and the penalties for doing so. And trust us, those penalties are significant and potentially life-changing. Read on as Tallahassee-based Cowhey + Ward Attorneys at Law details what consequences you might face if convicted of DUI in Florida.

Consequences of a First-Time DUI Conviction

The legal penalties for a first-time DUI are detailed in Florida Statute 316.193, which mandates that anyone convicted of the offense is subject to the following:

  • Minimum $500 fine and a maximum of $1,000.
  • Up to six months imprisonment
  • Up to one year of probation.
  • Fifty hours of community service.
  • Psychological evaluation and completion of a substance abuse education course and treatment if evaluation recommends such.
  • Driver’s license suspension for six months up to a year.
  • Vehicle impoundment for up to 10 days.

Provisions in the statute dictate more severe penalties for first-time DUIs committed with aggravating factors. If your blood alcohol concentration levels are above 0.15 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or you had a minor under the age of 18 in the vehicle with you, the maximum fine climbs to $2,000 and maximum jail time to nine months.

If the first-time DUI charges were laid as a result of an accident in which someone was killed or injured, you face even harsher penalties. If the accident caused a severe injury, you face conviction of a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum of five-years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Fatalities in an accident result in DUI manslaughter charges, a second-degree felony with a mandatory minimum four-year prison sentence and a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. DUI manslaughter is charged as a first-degree felony if the driver fails to render aid or provide his personal information and driver’s license after the accident. This carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Monetary Costs of a First-Time DUI Conviction

In considering the legal penalties of a first-time DUI conviction, you should also consider the monetary costs, which go far beyond the mandatory $500 to $1,000 fine. Potential supplementary costs of a first-time DUI conviction include:

  • Assorted court fees—up to $1,000.
  • Psychological evaluation—$150 minimum.
  • Substance abuse education program—$265 or more.
  • DMV license reinstatement fees—up to $200.
  • Probation charges—at least $50 per month.
  • Insurance reinstatement fee—$150.
  • Higher insurance premiums—Depending on the vehicle, $1,000 to $6,000 per year for a minimum of three years.

Turn to Cowhey + Ward for Your Criminal Defense

If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI in Leon County, consult with the DUI lawyers at Cowhey + Ward as soon as possible. While your case may take time to reach the courtroom, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended if you do not request a license suspension hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest. Cowhey + Ward can help you retain your license or get a conditional permit during this administrative procedure and then help strategize an effective defense against the DUI charges. To learn how Cowhey + Ward’s can help secure the most favorable outcome for your DUI charges, contact our Tallahassee-based office today at (850) 222-1000.

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