DUI Defense FAQs
Can I get a plea bargain for my DUI charge?
You can talk about a plea bargain with the prosecution if you wish to come to a compromise, and see if they agree. If you hire a lawyer have them make the arrangements for communicating with the prosecutor on a plea bargain, if you do not have a lawyer you can talk to the prosecutor about compromising on consequences and entering your plea.
Can I go to jail for a DUI?
Yes, a DUI is a criminal offense and with it comes the penalty of possible jail time.
Can I still get a job with a DUI conviction?
Most driving positions will not hire a person who has a DUI, but jobs that do not require driving may hire you. However, a DUI is a criminal offense and will be visible on your criminal record, and there are jobs out there that do not hire people with criminal records.
Can I work at jobs that require me to drive with a DUI conviction?
You cannot work for jobs that require you to drive unless you have a hardship license allowing you to drive while your license is suspended. Also, the job must permit you to drive knowing you have a DUI, which most driving positions do not allow.
Do I have to take a breathalyzer test?
If you operate a motor vehicle then one of the rules that applies to your driving privileges is that you consent to take a breathalyzer test if an officer ask you to. However, an officer or any member of law cannot force you to take the test if you are able to verbally tell them that you do not wish to take the test.
Do I have to take a field sobriety test?
You do not have to take the field sobriety test if you do not want to. The majority of the time an officer asks you to take the field sobriety test, they have already concluded that you are driving under the influence and they are trying to compile more evidence against you.
How do I get a hardship license?
In order to obtain a hardship license you must first complete a 12 hour DUI class. Once you have completed this class you can apply for a hardship license at your local Admissions Review Office. You will need to bring proof of your completion of your DUI class. You can find your local Admissions Review Office by visitinghttp://www.flhsmv.gov/offices/. However, you are not eligible for a hardship license if this is your second or subsequent DUI charge.
How long will my license get suspended for when I get a DUI?
In most cases your license will be suspended for a year. If you are a first time offender your license may be suspended for less than a year. However, if this is your second DUI within five years of your prior DUI your license can be suspended for five years and if this is your third DUI within 10 years of your second DUI then you license will be suspended for five years.
How much probation time can I get from a DUI charge?
In some cases a judge may decide to give you probation instead of imprisonment. With DUI cases the length of time can vary but usually if you are a first time offender your probation sentence will not exceed a year. For subsequent offenders your probation time can be up to five years.
If you are granted probation instead of jail time you will have a parole officer that will check up on you periodically to make sure that you are following the rules of your probation, such as abiding by your curfew and not driving.
How much time do I have before my license is suspended after I am charged with a DUI?
In Florida, you have ten days before your license in suspended. If you hire a lawyer they may be able to get you additional time before your suspension is applied to your license. Also, if you are planning to get a hardship license you should apply within the ten days before your license is suspended.
Should I hire a lawyer to fight my DUI case?
Yes, you should hire a lawyer to fight your case. A DUI charge is a criminal offense that will be on your record. A DUI charge will impact your life in more ways than one and can lead to you doing jail time. Hiring a lawyer, whether or not you are innocent or guilty, can help you get lessor penalties and can ultimately help you save hundreds to thousands of dollars.
What are defenses for a DUI charge?
DUI cases will vary in defenses due to each case being unique. You should discuss your case in detail with your attorney to figure out your case’s strengths and weaknesses and best defense option.
There are instances in DUI cases that occur that may work to your benefit, such as an officer making an unlawful stop when they pulled you over, or the validity of the breathalyzer or field sobriety test that you took. In addition, any weakness on the prosecutions part can lead to a plea bargain that may work in your favor or may lead to your charges being dropped.
What are the fines specifically related to a DUI charge in Florida?
For a first time offender fines are typically between $500 and $1000, for a second time offender fines are typically $1000 to $2000, and for a third time offender fines are typically $2000 to $5000.
If a person causes property damage or bodily injury while driving under the influence fines may be higher. In addition, if a person is driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle fines will be higher.
What are the penalties for a DUI charge?
In Florida, the penalties for a DUI charge will increase with each DUI a person receives. The penalties are as follows:
A first offense:
- Automatic suspended license for up to a year
- Up to $1000 fine
- Up to a year of probation
- Up to six months in jail
- Up to 50 hours of community service
A second offense:
- Automatic license suspension for up to a year
- Up to a $2000 fine
- Up to nine months of jail
- Mandatory interlock device installation
A third offense:
- Automatic license suspension for up to a year
- Up to a $5000 fine
- Up to one year in jail (Mandatory prison time of 30 days if within 10 years of the second DUI)
If a person receives more than three DUI’s their license will be permanently revoked. If a person receives a second or third DUI charge within five years of the prior DUI charge, they will receive harsher penalties.
What are the penalties for a DUI with bodily injury?
Bodily injury without fatality in regards to a DUI charge will result in you being charged with a third degree felony. You will have to pay a fine amounting up to $5000 and can be charged with up to five years in jail.
What are the penalties for a DUI with property damage?
If you are charged with a DUI and caused property damage, you will have to pay the fines associated with your DUI charge as well as face the penalties in addition to paying for all of the property damage you caused. You may also face civil charges as well as criminal charges for property damage while driving under the influence.
What are the penalties for a felony DUI?
The penalties for a felony DUI are fines up to $5000 and up to five years in jail.
What are the penalties for DUI manslaughter?
DUI manslaughter is considered a second degree felony offense in Florida and will result in a permanent license revocation and up to fifteen years in prison with a four year mandatory minimum stay.
What are the possible outcomes for a DUI charge?
You can be found guilty of a DUI charge and face the maximum penalties, such as the maximum sentence of jail time or the maximum amount of a fine, or you could be found guilty and face the minimum penalties. If you hire a lawyer to fight your case, you could be found innocent of the charge and get all of the charges being brought up against you dismissed, or if you hire a lawyer you could still plead guilty but attempt to get your charges reduced or enter a plea bargain.
What do officers look for when searching for drunk drivers?
Some police officers specifically search for motorists who are driving under the influence to keep the streets safer. Typical mistakes that drivers make while driving under the influence include, continually slamming the brakes, swerving, driving in-between two lanes, making wide turns, driving without headlights on, stopping to quickly, unnecessary stopping or slowing down, driving on curbs or off the road, almost hitting another vehicle, driving too close to another vehicle, and sudden acceleration.
What happens to me the first time I get a DUI?
Your first DUI will be considered a misdemeanor offense. You may or may not be arrested, depending on the officer. If you are not arrested you will receive a DUI citation providing you with a court date. The officer can impound your car or they may allow someone to come pick you up, that is up to them.
After you are charged with a DUI and found guilty, you will have an automatic license suspension, for a first offense it is up to a year, and you will have to pay fines. You can also be arrested, have to do community service, or get probation; this is up to the judge.
What is a felony DUI?
You will be charged with a felony DUI if you cause bodily injury to any person while driving under the influence. You can also be charged with a felony DUI if you receive a third DUI within 10 years of your second DUI.
What is a hardship license?
A hardship license is a type of license that can be granted to people to provide them with limited yet necessary driving privileges to particular places, such as work. A hardship license can either be business related; allowing a person to drive to and from work and other places that are business related such as school and church, or it can be employment related only allowing a person to drive to and from work.
What is an ignition interlock device and do I have to get one if I am charged with a DUI?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a device that a person blows their breath into and reads their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. The device is mandatory for DUI offenders to install if they are granted a hardship license. An IID may not be required for first time DUI offenders, but it is required for drivers who have subsequent DUI charges. In addition, if you have to get an IID you will be responsible for paying for the machine and the installation of the IID.
What is blood alcohol concentration (BAC)?
BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration. When you blow into a breathalyzer test your BAC level will be measured which will tell the machine your intoxication level. If your BAC is 0.08 or higher then you are over the legal drinking limit to operate a motor vehicle and can be charged with a DUI.
What is DUI manslaughter?
DUI manslaughter is when a person driving under the influence kills another person without the intent to do so. In DUI cases this is commonly seen when a drunk driver causes an automobile accident to occur and a fatality occurs from the crash.
What rules do officers have to follow in order to charge me with a DUI?
Just as motorists have to follow the laws of the road, officers have to follow the rules of the laws, because all people have their rights as American citizens.
An officer is not allowed to pull a person over in their vehicle unless the motorist was breaking a law or the officer has probable cause that the driver is committing a crime in their vehicle. If an officer makes an unjust stop and you can prove they stopped you for no reason, then your case can be dismissed.
In regards to a DUI charge, an officer must be able to prove that you were driving under the influence; this is usually accomplished through the results of a breathalyzer test, field sobriety test, or your admission of guilt.
However in regards to the field sobriety test and the breathalyzer test an officer has to follow the correct methods of administration for the results of the test to be valid. For example, with the field sobriety test, there are only three tests that have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These three tests are,
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (Involuntary eye movement)
- The one leg stand test
- The walk and turn test
These are the only three tests that are valid methods of determining if you are intoxicated.
In regards to the breathalyzer test, an officer has to follow specific regulation when administering the test or the test could result in a faulty reading and be deemed inadmissible. The rules that an officer must follow when administering the breathalyzer test are as follows:
- The officer must observe the individual for 20 minutes prior to the test being taken
- The officer must regulate the machine properly prior to testing
- The officer must read Florida's Implied Consent Law correctly to the individual
- The officer must tell the individual to keep blowing during the breath test
If an officer did not administer the breathalyzer or field sobriety test following proper protocol, you should discuss this with your lawyer.
What should I look for in a DUI lawyer?
It is important for you to conduct research on any lawyer before you hire them. You want to make sure the lawyer you are hiring has success at fighting DUI cases and has experience. You also want to make sure they have a good reputation and that they are conveniently located to assist you with your case.
What type of lawyer should I hire for a DUI charge?
You should hire a criminal defense attorney, specifically one that focuses on DUI charges.
What will happen if a get a fourth DUI?
Your license will be revoked indefinitely and you will be charged with a felony consisting of penalties of up to five years in jail and up to a $5000 fine.
What will happen if a get a second DUI within five years of the first?
You penalties will be harsher. Your fine can go up to $5000 and your license will be revoked for five years.
What will happen if I get a second DUI after five years from the first?
After five years of the first you will receive the penalties for a second DUI charge which are, up to a $2000 fine, automatic license suspension up to a year, up to nine months in jail, and probation or community service if the judge requires you to do so.
What will happen if I refuse a breathalyzer test?
For your first refusal your license will be suspended for a year automatically. If you refuse to take the test a second time you will receive an 18 month license suspension and be charged with a misdemeanor which will carry with it penalties of fines and/or jail time.
What will happen to me if a get a third DUI?
If you get a third DUI within ten years of your second you will be charged with a felony offense. A third DUI will result in fines up to $5000 and jail time or probation up to five years. If your third DUI is within ten years of the second you will have to do a minimum of 30 days in jail.
Will my insurance drop me because of my DUI charge?
Most likely your insurance company will drop you. A large portion of insurance companies will drop a person who has received a DUI charge. However, your insurance company may keep you on but increase your insurance rate; however they do have the right to drop you if they want.
Will my insurance rates increase because of a DUI charge?
Yes, your insurance rates will increase significantly after you are charged with a DUI.