What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time?

  • Oct 9 2019

Being arrested for drunk driving for the first time can be frightening and confusing, especially when it’s your first arrest. Drunk driving charges are serious in Florida. Even first offense DUI convictions can carry severe penalties. Discussing the charges with an experienced Florida DUI defense attorney can relieve some of the anxiety you may be experiencing.

Potential Consequences of a DUI Conviction in Florida?

Florida’s legal limit for DUI charges is .08 blood alcohol content (BAC). Provided that there are no aggravating circumstances, your first DUI will probably be a misdemeanor. 

A conviction for a first misdemeanor DUI can result in a variety of penalties including:

  • Up to six months in jail and/or probation;
  • Fines between $500 and $1,000;
  • DUI school;
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to one year;
  • Community service; and,
  • Impoundment of the vehicle for 10 days.

If the charge involves a DUI accident, injuries, property damage, underage passengers, a BAC of .15 or higher, or other crimes, the penalties for a first DUI offense are enhanced. You could face higher fines, longer jail sentences, longer suspensions of driving privileges, the installation of an ignition interlock device, and other penalties. 

While very few first time DUI offenders receive jail time, you cannot be sure what a judge may decide. It is best to treat a DUI first offense as seriously as you would a felony DUI charge.

DUI Arrests Are Not Convictions

Even though you were arrested for driving under the influence, you are not guilty until the state proves you are guilty in court or you plead guilty. You could have one or more DUI defenses, depending on the circumstances of your DUI stop and arrest. 

An experienced DUI defense lawyer may develop a defense based on lack of probable cause or lack of evidence of intoxication at the time of the arrest. In some cases, a technical defense can prove effective, such as police officers committing errors when administering a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer.

Florida Implied Consent Laws Apply to First Time DUI Offenders

Florida is an implied consent state. Driving a vehicle means that you agree to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test an officer suspects you are driving under the influence. If a driver refuses to submit to these tests, the result is an automatic suspension of driving privileges for 12 months for a first offense. 

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) issues the suspension. The driver has 10 days to request an administrative hearing to object to the DHSMV license suspension. A driver can request a hardship license; however, the driver must meet certain requirements. 

Before requesting a hardship license and going through the steps to qualify for a hardship license, it can be wise to discuss your DUI charges with a DUI lawyer. Once you begin taking certain steps, your defense options might be limited.

Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney for More Information 

You can fight a DUI charge. Contact our Florida DUI defense attorney to discuss how we can help you protect your legal rights to a fair and just outcome for your case. 

Posted in: DUI