Good people sometimes make bad decisions. This is simply a fact of life. For the most part, these bad decisions do not lead to terrible outcomes. However, when a bad decision involves driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there can be lifelong repercussions not only for the person who made the decision to drive while drunk or high but for anyone unfortunate enough to cross paths with them at the time.

When driving under the influence is involved, that one bad decision can lead to accidents that result in serious or catastrophic injury or even loss of life. Property may also be damaged.

Because of the potential to harm people and property, driving under the influence, or DUI, as it is more commonly known, is a serious crime that carries serious penalties in Florida. If you are charged with DUI in Florida – even if you were not involved in an accident – a conviction can have a significant impact on your life. You may face jail time and substantial fines, as well as the suspension of your driver’s license.

If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges in Florida, an experienced Florida DUI attorney can help.

Have you been charged with a DUI in Florida?

According to a September 2021 report, arrests for DUI in Palm Beach County, Florida were projected to increase by 13% in 2021 compared with the previous year. That uptick may involve people who have never been charged with DUI before; people who simply had too much to drink one evening and got behind the wheel thinking they were fine to drive. Others may be a repeat or habitual offenders for whom a DUI charge is nothing new. Even if this is your first time being charged with DUI in Florida, the penalties can be severe. They only increase in severity with repeated convictions.

In Florida, an individual who is suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances can be charged with DUI. A blood alcohol content (BAC), sometimes referred to as a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .08 or higher is considered intoxicated under the law. It can be easier than one thinks to reach this level.

In addition to the typical scenario in which a person is pulled over by police while driving or is stopped at a sobriety checkpoint, there are a variety of circumstances under which a person can be charged with a DUI. These include any situation where a person who is under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances is in control of a vehicle. You can be charged with DUI if you are sitting in a vehicle while under the influence, sleeping in a vehicle while under the influence, being in a vehicle that is in a parking lot or driveway while under the influence or operating a golf cart or other untraditional vehicle.

Every DUI case is unique and deserves a defense that is tailored to the specifics of the case. If you have been charged with a DUI in Florida, you need a skilled Florida DUI defense attorney to represent you. There is too much on the line to take a chance.

Penalties for DUI in Florida

DUI charges in Florida carry serious penalties. If convicted, you may face jail or prison time and be responsible for paying substantial fines. You may also lose your driver’s license and your car may be impounded. Penalties increase in severity with subsequent DUI convictions.

Per section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes, the following DUI fines may be imposed:

  • First conviction:
    • Not less than $500 or more than $1,000.
    • If blood/breath alcohol level (BAL) was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000.
  • Second conviction:
    • Not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, not less than $2,000 or more than $4,000.
  • Third conviction (within 10 years from the second offense):
    • Not less than $2,000 or more than $5,000.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, not less than $4,000.
  • Third conviction (more than 10 years from second):
    • Not less than $2,000 or more than $5,000.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, not less than $4,000.
  • Fourth or subsequent conviction:
    • Not less than $2,000.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, not less than $4,000.

In Florida, DUI convictions may also result in imprisonment. The court may allow an offender to complete part or all of their sentence in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program, with the time served credited toward the term of imprisonment.

Per Florida law, imprisonment for a DUI conviction depends on the circumstance of the crime and how many times you have been convicted of DUI:

  • First conviction:
    • Imprisonment for not more than six months.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, imprisonment for not more than nine months.
  • Second conviction:
    • Imprisonment for not more than nine months.
    • If BAL was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, imprisonment for not more than 12 months.
    • If second conviction was within five years of a prior conviction, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
  • Third conviction:
    • If third conviction is within 10 years of a prior conviction, mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
    • If third conviction is more than 10 years of a prior conviction, imprisonment for not more than 12 months.
  • Fourth or subsequent conviction:
    • Imprisonment for not more than five years, or as provided in section775.084, Florida Statutes, if habitual/violent offender.

It is important to note that DUI charges that involve injury to people or damage to property carry much more severe penalties.

Defending against DUI in Florida

Being charged with DUI in Florida is no joking matter. Whether this is your first offense or you have been charged with or convicted of DUI in the past, it is crucial that you have an experienced Florida DUI attorney fighting on your behalf. At Sando Law, P.A., we understand the nuances of Florida’s unique DUI laws – and how to build a strategic defense against DUI charges. As a former prosecuting attorney in Florida and a two-time recipient of the Prosecutor of the Year award, Attorney Andrew Sando has in-depth knowledge of how the prosecution builds their DUI cases. He understands how and when pre-trial interventions may apply and are skilled at negotiating with prosecutors. If your case does go to trial, Attorney Sando is an experienced litigator who has handled hundreds of criminal cases and more than 50 trials.

Contact Sando Law, P.A. for a skilled Florida DUI defense attorney today

If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI in Florida – even if it is not your first offense – Sando Law, P.A. can help. Attorney Andrew Sando has a deep understanding of Florida criminal law, including Florida DUI law, and is an experienced litigator. At Sando Law, P.A., we know the impact a DUI case can have on you and your loved ones, so we take the time to answer your questions and explain everything as we develop a strategic defense. Above all, we do not judge you for any mistakes you may have made.

From our Palm Beach office, we defend clients against Florida DUI charges and other criminal offenses in Palm Beach and throughout South Florida, including Martin County, Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Monroe County. Contact us today by completing our online contact form or calling us at 561-296-1665. We offer a free case review.

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