West Palm Beach DUI Penalties Lawyer
A drunk driving arrest can be scary for someone who has never been in trouble with the law before. If you are in this position, you likely have many questions. Will I go to jail? Will I lose my driver’s license? Do I have to pay a fine?
The laws governing Florida’s DUI punishments are somewhat complex. That is why it is always a good idea to work with an experienced West Palm Beach DUI penalties lawyer who explains your options to you and advises you on the best legal strategy for dealing with your case. At the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., we represent many clients who have been charged with DUI, often for the first time, and we can help answer some of the questions you have about the legal process.
You Can Get Jail for a First DUI Offense in Florida
Florida law defines driving under the influence (DUI) as being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any other substance that impairs your normal faculties. Florida considers driving with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater to be “per se” DUI–i.e., drunk driving as a matter of law–but you can still be convicted of DUI even with a lower BAC if there is other evidence of impairment.
In terms of DUI penalties, a first offense in Florida normally carries a maximum sentence of no more than 6 months in jail, a fine of between $500 and $1,000, and revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license for a period of between 180 days and 1 year. The court will also typically require at least 1 year of probation, 50 hours of community service, and impounding of the defendant’s vehicle for at least 10 days.
These base penalties may be increased by certain aggravating factors. For example, if the defendant had a minor passenger in their car at the time of the DUI or their BAC was 0.15 percent or more, the maximum jail time increases from 6 to 9 months and the possible fines double to a range of between $1,000 and $2,000.
Second and subsequent DUI convictions also carry harsher penalties than a first offense. A second DUI conviction carries a maximum jail time of 9 months, while a third offense can mean up to 1 year in jail. It is also important to note that a third DUI is prosecuted as a felony in Florida if the defendant had a prior DUI conviction within the past 10 years. And a fourth or subsequent DUI is always treated as a felony.
There are also special rules governing drivers under the age of 21, i.e., minors who cannot drink alcohol. If a minor has a BAC of as low as 0.02 percent, the state will not charge them criminally but will suspend their driver’s license for 6 months for a first offense–and 1 year for a second offense. In some cases the minor may also need to complete a DUI education program before they can get their license back.
Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson Today
Even a first-time DUI arrest can seriously upend your life. So it is important to consult with a qualified West Palm Beach DUI penalties lawyer who can help ensure you explore all of your legal options. Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., today if you need to speak with an attorney right away.