DUI Penalties

DUI Penalties in Tampa

The Effects of a Florida DUI Conviction

A conviction for driving under the influence in Florida incurs heavy penalties. Even first offense penalties may include a prison sentence of up to six months, a driver's license suspension of up to a year, fines up to $500, and DUI School. The only way to negotiate alternative sentencing or smaller penalties is to work with a lawyer who can protect your legal rights and your driving privileges.

At Thomas & Paulk, we can help you through every step of the criminal trial and assist you in the DMV hearing. Our Tampa DUI attorneys have more than two decades of experience. We’ve handled more than 7,000 cases, developing a results-oriented approach that has protected the accused throughout Hillsborough County. As former prosecutors, we know what strategies are effective, and we use our strategies to reduce charges, get cases dismissed, and get clients acquitted.

Looking for more info and insight regarding DUI penalties in Tampa? Call (813) 321-7323 to speak with an attorney at our firm about your unique case.

Aggravating Factors That Increase DUI Penalties 

There are aggravating factors that may increase DUI penalties in Florida. These include:

In the presence of aggravating factors such as the ones listed above, the penalties for a DUI will generally be worse, which can also apply to a first-time DUI. Florida judges are not allowed to deviate from the administrative and revocation periods imposed by the state. Courts are also prohibited from reducing a DUI charge in cases where the defendant’s BAC was 0.15% or greater. These issues make aggravating factors all the more serious.

Is DUI a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

If you have been charged with DUI in Florida, you may be wondering if it is a misdemeanor or a felony offense. In Florida, a DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor, but there are some circumstances where it can be charged as a felony.

Most first and second DUI offenses in Florida are classified as misdemeanors. A first-time DUI conviction can result in up to six months in jail, fines of up to $1,000, and license suspension for up to six months. A second DUI conviction within five years of the first can result in up to nine months in jail, fines of up to $2,000, and license suspension for up to five years.

There are some circumstances where a DUI can be charged as a felony in Florida. These include:

A third or subsequent DUI conviction within 10 years is classified as a third-degree felony, which can result in up to five years in prison, fines of up to $5,000, and license revocation for up to 10 years. DUI with serious bodily injury or DUI manslaughter are both classified as second-degree felonies, which can result in up to 15 years or 30 years in prison, respectively, fines of up to $10,000, and license revocation for up to permanently.

It's important to note that even if your DUI charge is classified as a misdemeanor, it can still have serious consequences for your personal and professional life. That's why it's crucial to hire an experienced DUI lawyer who can help you understand your legal options and fight for your rights in court.

You Can Avoid Serious DUI Penalties in Tampa

The most important thing you can do in the face of DUI charges in Tampa is to involve an attorney. Exercise your right to legal counsel. Even if the odds seem stacked against you, and even if you think you "failed" a breath test or field sobriety test, you may have been wrongly tested or the device could have been faulty. 

Call (813) 321-7323 to talk to our team about your charges and how you can avoid serious DUI penalties. We serve Tampa and the surrounding areas.

DUI Penalties in Tampa, FL

Basic DUI Penalties in Florida

First DUI Offense:

  • Potential jail time: 0-6 months
  • Fines of $250-$1,000
  • Driver’s licenses suspension from 6 months to 1 year
  • One year of probation
  • 10-day vehicle impoundment
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • Community service

Second DUI Offense (Within 5 Years):

  • Potential jail time: 10 days-9 months
  • Fines from $500-$2,000
  • Driver’s license suspension for at least 5 years
  • One year of probation
  • 30-day vehicle impoundment
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • Community service
  • DUI School

Third DUI Offense (Within 10 Years):

  • Potential jail time: 30 days-5 years
  • Fines from $1,000-$5,000
  • 10-year driver’s license suspension
  • 1-5 years of probation
  • 90-day vehicle impoundment
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • Community service
  • DUI School

Fourth DUI Offense (Within 10 Years)

  • Potential jail time: up to 5 years
  • Fines from $1,000-$5,000
  • Permanent revocation of driver’s license
  • 1-5 years of probation
  • Community service
  • DUI School

The ignition interlock device (IID) is a common repercussion of a DUI conviction. This is a breath machine that prevents a vehicle from operating until a breath test is accomplished. Notably, the machine requires intermittent testing to keep the car operational for the driver.

Long-Term Consequences of DUI

Many fail to consider the long-term, non-criminal consequences of DUI conviction. These are referred to as collateral consequences, which can impact a defendant’s life for years. Collateral consequences not only apply to convicted felons, but to individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanors like DUI. The collateral consequences of a DUI are not temporary—they last long after the individual has paid the legal costs of their mistakes.

The collateral consequences of a Florida DUI may include:

  • Education: Many colleges will deny a student’s application if they have a record.
  • Background Checks: These can affect future employment and housing opportunities.
  • Auto insurance: DUI convictions affect your auto insurance and inflate rates.
  • Travel: Some countries deny entry to individuals with DUI convictions.
  • Mobility: Depending on the case, a judge may limit the defendant’s ability to drive.
  • Lifestyle: Probation may prohibit you from drinking and require testing.
  • Immigration: A felony DUI or a drug-related DUI can lead to deportation.
  • Child Custody: A DUI conviction can negatively affect a custody battle.
  • Professional Licenses: Licenses may be canceled or denied due to a DUI conviction.
  • Security Clearance: A DUI conviction can lead to the denial of security clearance.
  • Military Careers: This can result in a reduction in rank, pay, and reputation.

About the Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

Some DUI penalties are meant to punish. Others are meant to educate and prevent future offenses. One of the penalties designed to help limit habitual repeat offenders is the ignition interlock device (IID). This is a cell phone-sized device installed into the dashboard of a car. 

The purpose is simple: to not allow someone to get behind the wheel while drunk. It accomplishes that by requiring a breath test any time someone starts the vehicle. The threshold for BAL is set at 0.05 percent; if the breath sample is below this threshold, the vehicle will start. If, however, the breath sample is above 0.05, the vehicle will sit idle. 

There are also safeguards in place to cut down on drivers having a friend provide the breath sample before driving away. While driving, the device will require several "rolling tests" at random intervals. If a clean sample is provided, there will be no issues. If a sample has too high of BAC, the device will set off an alarm that will not stop until the car is pulled over to a safe area and turned off. If a sample is given with too high of a BAC, the event will be recorded and printed out for the proper authorities to look over and deal with accordingly.

In order to use an IID, a driver needs to follow these steps:

  • Pay a certified installer to put the IID in their vehicle.
  • Agree to have their BAC readings reported to law enforcement.
  • Blow into the attached mouthpiece on the device to read their BAL.
  • Drive their car, periodically pulling over for BAC checks.

RIDR Program & IIDs

If you have qualified for the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) program, you will need to install an IID into your car 60 days after your arraignment. The length of time that the IID must be installed depends on your sanction level as a RIDR program participant.

Depending on the sanction level, a RIDR participant must install an IID in their vehicle for:

  • Level 1: 3 months after the plea
  • Level 2: 9 months after the plea
  • Level 3: 9 months after the plea

DUI Convictions & IIDs

According to Florida Statutes §316.193, ignition interlock devices must be installed in the vehicles of certain individuals who are convicted of DUI:

  • For someone convicted of a first-time conviction, it may be required if ordered by the court. If there are aggravating factors, it will be required for at least six months.
  • For a second DUI conviction, it will be required for at least a year unless there are aggravating factors. In those cases, it will be installed for at least two years.
  • For a third conviction, it will be required for at least two years.
  • For a fourth or subsequent conviction, it will be required for at least five years with the condition of a hardship license.

In Hillsborough County, the IID vendor selected by the department is Alcohol Countermeasure Systems Corp. which works with Alcolock products. It is important to note that installing an ignition interlock device does not only go into one car—it must go into every single car that is either solely or jointly owned or leased by the convicted.

How Much Does an IID Cost?

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) says the defendant will need to pay for the following:

  • Interlock Fee - $12
  • Installation - $75
  • Monthly Monitoring / Calibration - $72.50
  • Refundable Deposit - $100 or Monthly Insurance Charge - $5

If you cannot afford this, there are certain situations where the court may allow for a portion of your fine to be used to pay for the ignition interlock device.

Residential Treatment Programs & SCRAM

In Florida, one of the most appealing alternative forms of sentencing includes the possibility of a residential treatment program. Accepted in many Florida counties, this allows for defendants to receive a 28-day in-house treatment program instead of imprisonment. While not a fail-safe, it allows a lawyer to argue that the defendant has undergone the necessary treatment (including counseling and alcohol testing) to recover from their mistakes. 

Similarly, another form of alternative DUI sentencing is the possibility of using a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) device. This device is worn around the ankle and combines alcohol monitoring with house arrest technology. Those with this device have their alcohol consumption tested via sweat and are tracked by GPS.

DUI penalties are severe. Preserve your future; contact our firm today!

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