Being charged with a first offense DUI is scary. Thousands of people in Florida are charged with a DUI each year, and the stakes are high for each and every person. But, while each case and person is unique, there are some standard processes and procedures you can expect for each first-time DUI charge.
If you were recently charged with a first offense DUI, here are a few things you can expect and how you can plan to get the best possible outcome.
What Is a First Offense DUI?
DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” It refers to driving a vehicle after consuming too much alcohol, which is defined by a legal limit of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The legal BAC limit is .08%, meaning any person driving a vehicle with a BAC of .08% or higher can be charged with driving under the influence. Drivers under 21 may be charged with a DUI with any level of BAC because it is illegal for them to consume alcohol in the first place. A first offense DUI refers to charges against someone who has never been charged with a DUI before.
It’s important to note that a DUI offense includes more than just driving a vehicle after consuming alcohol.
A DUI is interchangeable with a DWI. DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” This term includes driving while under the influence of any intoxicants that could impair driving. It includes driving while intoxicated by alcohol as well as painkillers, sleep medication, and other street or prescription drugs. You don’t need alcohol involved to get a DUI/DWI. You may also be charged if you are impaired from drugs, prescribed or illegal.
DUIs aren’t exclusive to driving cars, trucks, and motorcycles. The “driving” part of a DUI is often associated with driving a vehicle. But, a person can also be charged with a DUI for operating a bicycle, a boat (often referred to as a “BWI”), or even a lawnmower.
You may think a DUI always refers to a situation where someone was driving a car while intoxicated from alcohol, but it is not limited to that situation. It can also refer to a situation where someone was driving a boat while intoxicated from pain killers.
What’s the Penalty for a First Offense DUI in Florida?
The situation for someone charged with a first offense DUI varies, but there are some standards for how each case will be processed.
Is a first time DUI a felony or misdemeanor?
A first offense DUI will be classified as a misdemeanor, as long as no one was killed or seriously injured during the event. In that case, the charge may be classified as a felony.
Will there be jail time?
For most first offense DUIs, there is no minimum jail time. In Florida, jail time can be up to six months for a first offense. Factors determine if the driver will do jail time and if so, how long the term will last. Individuals convicted of a DUI may receive jail time if:
- The driver had a very high BAC
- There was a passenger under 18
- Property was damaged during the incident
- Someone was injured during the incident
Will I lose my driver’s license or get an IID?
Many first time DUI offenders will lose their driver’s license for some time. In Florida, license suspensions can last for 180 days to one year for a first offense DUI.
An ignition interlock device (IID) requires a driver to blow into an alcohol sensor before starting the car to prove that they don’t have alcohol in their system. Typically, first offenders won’t get an IID unless the details of their case are severe.
How much will I need to pay in fines?
First offense DUIs almost always involve fines. Factors unique to the situation may cause fines to increase. In Florida, violators can expect to pay around $500-$1,000 in fines.
Will my car insurance go up?
DUIs are reported to insurers, and it is likely that the insurance company will increase rates if an individual is charged with a first offense DUI.
Reduce the Impact of a First Offense DUI
As soon as you are charged with a DUI, talk to a criminal defense attorney about your options to see how they can help reduce the charges and penalties and/or help you clear your record.
If you believe that you have been unfairly or unjustly charged with a DUI, you can fight it. You may be able to get your case dismissed if you can prove:
- Faulty breath or blood testing
- That a medical condition or mouth alcohol contaminated results
- Police misconduct or that there was no probable cause for the stop
If you were justly convicted of a first offense DUI, it doesn’t mean you will have a DUI following you around forever. There are steps you can take to clear your record. Talk to your attorney about programs that can reduce the impact of your DUI for the short and long term.
Don’t Go Through a DUI on Your Own
While there are some standard guidelines and procedures involved with every DUI, each DUI case is unique. If you’ve been charged with a first offense DUI, don’t go blindly through the system on your own. Work with an experienced DUI attorney who can make sure your unique situation is handled with care and consideration.
Contact our offices to get a free consultation so we can learn about the specifics of your case and see how we can help you get the fairest outcome possible. Request your free consultation or call us at 813-226-1023 today.