If you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) in Florida, the first thing you should do is contact a skilled DUI attorney to defend you against the charges. In consultation with your lawyer, and especially if it is your first DUI, it may make sense to plead guilty to the charges. First time DUI offenders are treated differently than those who have multiple DUI convictions on their record. Keep in mind that options for a first offender may not apply to DUIs where there was property damage or death, or DUIs where there are other aggravating factors that make the court decline to treat the person arrested for DUI as a first offender.
What is DUI?
As mentioned above, DUI is a crime where someone is driving a car while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for alcohol in one’s system is a blood (or breath) alcohol content (BAC) level of .08. Many different things affect BAC beyond the number of drinks. Weight, gender, other medications, how recently someone has eaten, and other factors can make your BAC higher or lower. That said, the rule of thumb for BAC is that for an average sized man each drink equals .02 and people generally metabolize about one drink an hour. The only way to be truly safe is to not drink at all when driving.
While BAC may be measured by a blood or breath test, DUI can also be charged with the results from a field sobriety test where coordination and balance are tested.
Penalties for First Time Offenders
The penalties for a DUI will vary based on the number of DUIs someone has previously and also may be affected by extenuating circumstances, such as if it was charged in connection with an accident, if the BAC was extremely high, or if there were minors in the car.
First time DUI offenders without any extenuating circumstances face up to six months in jail, but there is no mandatory minimum so the judge does not have to give jail time if he or she does not want to. The fine for a regular first DUI is $500-$1000. In Florida, judges are required to put all first time DUI offenders on probation for generally up to a year total combined probation and jail time. Offenders will also be mandated to perform 50 hours of community service as part of their probation and their car may be impounded for up to 10 days after they get out of jail. License suspensions of at least six months are mandatory, but licenses can be suspended for longer. Finally, those convicted of their first regular DUI are not required to have ignition interlock devices on their car, but the judge can order one if he or she wants to.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you are charged with DUI it is crucial that you contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney as soon as possible to defend you against the charges or to make a deal to get your charges or penalties lowered. Our experienced DUI defense attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A., in West Palm Beach, Florida can help you to choose the best option for your situation.