Understanding The Consequences Of A DUI Conviction
The penalties that come along with a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can often be overwhelming and life altering. To help you build a strong defense against your charges, you need a lawyer who understands what is at risk in your case.
My name is Jenna Finkelstein. At the Finkelstein Firm, P.A., in Clearwater, I know what to expect from these cases, what the consequences are for a conviction and how to pursue the optimal results in your case.
What You Should Know About Your Charges
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of some of the most common penalties those convicted of a DUI charge will receive.
Typical DUI Fines
With a DUI conviction comes hefty fines. These fines will be court ordered upon your conviction. Your first conviction will range anywhere from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $1,000. You may receive higher fines based on any enhancements that factor into your charge. With each additional conviction, the fines will be more costly.
Time Behind Bars
In addition to fines, you may be faced with time in jail. The possible sentences are as follows:
- First-time offense – Up to six months in jail
- Second-time offense – Up to nine months in jail
- Third offense within 10 years – Up to five years in jail
Enhancements may be considered based on certain factors of the case.
Loss Of License
A DUI charge comes with an automatic driver’s license suspension. This is an administrative suspension by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. A driver’s license suspension is very inconvenient for most people, and some may even feel hesitant to explain the loss of a driver’s license to friends, loved ones and employers. I understand the urgency involved in trying to resolve this as quickly and efficiently as possible.
An administrative driver’s license suspension is prompted at the time of your arrest. This is not a suspension that is ordered by the court; it is done through the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR), and it is separate from any court-ordered penalties you may be facing. Your citation will serve as your license for 10 days.
DUI School And Treatment
When you’re convicted of DUI, the court will require you to enroll in and complete DUI school. As part of the course, you will be required to undergo an evaluation and complete the recommended alcohol and/or substance abuse treatment program. Frequently, those charged with DUI will enroll in DUI school long before any conviction, as the course is a prerequisite to obtaining a hardship license and can be used by your attorney as mitigation in the case.
Upon conviction, community service will be ordered. The court will determine the hour amount based on factors of the case. Up to 50 hours may be ordered for a first-time offense without enhancements. Some judges will allow a buyout of community service hours. This option is particularly attractive to individuals who have full-time jobs and are unable to complete the community service hours in time.
Ignition Interlock Device
If you are charged with a second-offense DUI or a DUI with aggravating factors, then you may be court ordered to install an ignition interlock device. This is a breath test attached to your car that you will have to blow into to start your vehicle. The car will not start without a breath sample reading under .025%.
The Process You Can Expect
If you are arrested for DUI, a formal review hearing will be held at your request. If you choose to waive the hearing, then you may apply for a hardship license to be used to drive for your livelihood. You will need to do this within the 10-day period that starts when your citation is issued. Waiving this hearing is an option given only to those with no prior DUI arrests or convictions.
If the 10-day period passes and you do nothing, you will have to abide by a 30-day “hard suspension.” During this time period, you will not be eligible to apply for a hardship license or drive for any reason.
Providing that there is a refusal, the administrative suspension is one year, with the hard suspension period being 90 days. Due to these time restrictions, it is imperative that you act immediately following your arrest.
If you want to dispute the administrative suspension of your license, then you will need to fill out the appropriate BAR application and pay the requested filing fee. Once that has been done, the BAR will provide you with your next steps. At the Finkelstein Firm, P.A., I will handle this on your behalf once you retain my firm to represent you.
In the event that you are convicted of DUI, the court will impose an additional suspension ranging from 180 days to up to a year. This is part of the sentence on the charge and separate from any administrative suspension you already incurred. As with some of the other mandatory penalties, prior DUI convictions and enhancements of the charge will increase the length of the suspension period.
In addition to the mentioned consequences above, one may also be forced to deal with auto insurance premium increases, probation and/or house arrest, court-ordered restitution to be paid, substance abuse treatment and a permanent criminal record.
Common Defense Strategies
There are many possible defenses that can be used to fight a DUI. While not every method will apply to your case, I can review your options for pursuing defenses like:
- Proof of driving or being in actual physical control
- Probable cause
- Implied consent warnings
- Blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
- Retrograde extrapolation
- Regulation of blood alcohol testing device
- Improper or incomplete protocols followed by law enforcement
There are also times when your case may qualify for a charge reduction. DUI charges are full of interesting legal issues. Often, I can poke holes in the state’s evidence, file motions to suppress evidence, or call into question the credibility or inexperience of the investigating officers. A common issue that I see is missing or incomplete evidence, such as videos and forms. A charge reduction is a viable option for individuals who may not want to risk going to trial.
Get The Representation You Need To Protect Your License
I understand the high level of emotion that comes with facing a criminal charge. Due to the potential consequences associated with the crime of DUI, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced defense lawyer right away. I have years of experience defending citizens charged with DUI. I have the knowledge and skills to fight for the best result in your case, and I am accessible and dependable when you need me the most.
Call 727-202-4418 or email me here to schedule a free analysis of your case at my local office, located in Clearwater. I handle cases in Pinellas County and the surrounding areas, including Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Pasco and Polk counties. It is crucial to learn your legal options if you have been accused of DUI. Let me start working for you today.