Melbourne DUI Defense Attorney
Whether you were impaired or sober, being pulled over and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence can cause serious damage to many aspects of your personal and professional life. Depending on the type of DUI charge, a conviction can lead to penalties ranging from probation to jail time, and even prison.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida, the case against you can move very quickly. It is essential to hire an experienced Melbourne DUI lawyer as soon after your arrest as possible in order to reach the most favorable outcome.
Types of DUI Charges in Florida
When most people think of a DUI, they often think of someone getting caught driving under the influence of alcohol. While it is true that most DUI arrests involve individuals under the influence of alcohol, you can also be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of drugs. Florida has many categories of DUI. The actual charge brought against you depends on different factors. Some of these factors are:
- How many prior DUI convictions you have
- What your breath or blood alcohol level was
- The length of time that has elapsed between your offenses
- Whether or not a person was injured or killed
- Whether or not there was property damage
The different charges that can be brought fall into these basic categories:
- First Time DUI
- 2nd or 3rd DUI (or more)
- DUI with Property Damage
- Boating Under the Influence (BUI)
- Drug/Prescription Drug DUI
- Commercial DUI
- High BAC DUI
- Felony DUI
- Aggravated DUI
- DUI with Serious Bodily Injury (SBI)
- DUI Manslaughter
What happens to your driver’s license when you’ve been arrested for DUI in Florida?
During your initial traffic stop, the arresting officer may confiscate your license, give you a ten-day temporary driving permit and immediately issue an administrative DUI suspension on your driving privileges. This process is known as a DUI administrative suspension. Suspending one’s license at the scene of a DUI can occur because of (1) a refusal to take a BAC test or (2) a BAC over .08%.
Whether it is school, work or basic errands, we all need to drive to maintain our livelihood. Losing your ability to drive can have a devastating impact on your family, your finances and your future career plans. Florida demands that anyone wanting to contest an administrative DUI suspension must request a formal hearing with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within ten days of arrest.
Ten days isn’t much time, which is why it is essential that you find an experienced Melbourne DUI attorney right away.
Once your license gets suspended during your arrest or traffic stop for refusing to take a breath test or blowing over the legal limit, your license gets an initial 10-day grace period without limitations until the review hearing. Once you send in the demand for a review hearing, many drivers receive another limited extension on their temporary driving privileges for 42 days in which time the review can take place. This second option is known as a hardship license and comes with strict limitations for use.
You may drive with your hardship license under the following circumstances:
- For work and work-related activities
- Commuting to school
- Getting to church and other related events
- Other activities necessary for everyday life (going to pay bills, get groceries, etc.)
It’s important to understand that not everyone will qualify for this extended license until their hearing. Those who already weren’t permitted to drive before their DUI will not receive a 10-day or 42-day permit.
Florida DUI Penalties
Even if you have no prior offenses on your record and you were only alleged to have been slightly over the legal limit, you still need to seek guidance from an experienced DUI lawyer. There is no such thing as a ‘minor’ DUI charge.
Each type of DUI has a separate set of penalties and qualifying factors. The penalties in your case will depend on the nature of your arrest as well as your prior criminal history.
The basic Florida DUI sentencing guidelines are as follows:
1st offense—12 months of probation (mandatory), DUI school, a 10-day vehicle impound, a fine of up to $500, a license suspension for up to 6 months, up to 6 months of jail time, and up to 50 hours of community service.
2nd offense—12 months of probation (mandatory), DUI school, a 30-day vehicle impound, a fine of up to $1,000, a license suspension for up to 12 months, up to 9 months of jail time, up to 50 hours of community service and an ignition-interlock requirement (a device that you blow into to start a car. If there is alcohol on your breath the car won’t start).
***If your second arrest for DUI occurs within 5 years of the first, it is considered a “2nd within 5.” The penalties for a 2nd within 5 are much harsher than those of a regular DUI, including mandatory jail time.
3rd offense—12 months of probation (mandatory), DUI school, a 90-day vehicle impound, a fine of up to $2,500, a license suspension for up to 5 years, up to 12 months of jail time, up to 50 hours of community service and a minimum mandatory 2-year ignition interlock requirement.
***A third time DUI can be very serious. If your current DUI arrest was less than ten years from your second DUI arrest then it can be charged as a felony. If you are charged with a felony, you face up to five years in prison.
4th or Subsequent offense—if you have been arrested for your fourth (or more) DUI, it is a felony charge regardless of how much time has elapsed between your last conviction and your present arrest.
***A fourth (or more) DUI carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a permanent license revocation, a fine of up to $5,000
Other aggravating factors can potentially turn a DUI into a felony charge. For example, if an intoxicated driver was involved in an accident that resulted in injuries, they may be charged with a felony DUI. Similarly, if there was a child in the car at the time of the arrest, the driver may face a felony DUI charge.
Also, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over .15, you will be subjected to harsher penalties, regardless of whether the DUI is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
This is just a brief overview of the types of DUI charges that you could be charged with and the possible penalties. I can provide a free case assessment to go over the specific facts of your case and help you understand the exact penalties you may be facing, your defense options and the road ahead.