DUI Penalties | Top Defense Attorneys in Clearwater, FL

The penalties that come along with a DUI conviction can often be overwhelming and life-altering.

Below, you'll find a break-down of some of the most common penalties those convicted of a DUI charge will receive.

1. 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 through 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.

2. Jail Time: In addition to fines, You may be faced with time in jail. The possibilities are as follows: 

  • First time offense, up to 6 months in jail
  • Second time offense, up to 9 months in jail
  • Third offense within 10 years, up to 5 years in jail

Enhancements may be considered based on certain factors of the case.

3. Driver's License Suspension: A DUI charge comes with an automatic driver's license suspension. This is an administrative suspension by the Department of 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. We understand the urgency in wanting 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, and it is separate from any court-ordered penalties you may be facing. Your citation will serve as your license for 10 days.

If you are arrested for DUI, a formal review hearing will be held at your request. If you choose to waive the hearing, 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 there is a refusal, the administrative suspension is 1 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, you will need to fill out the appropriate Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) application and pay the requested filing fee. Once that has been done, the BAR will provide you with your next steps. At Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, we will handle this on your behalf once you retain our firm to represent you.

In the event that you are convicted of DUI, the court will impose an additional suspension ranging from 180 days 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. 

4. DUI School and Treatment: When convicted of a 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 pre-requisite to obtaining a hardship license and can be used by your attorney as mitigation in the case.

5. Community Service: 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.

6. Ignition Interlock Device: If you are charged with a second-offense DUI or a DUI with aggravating factors, you may be court-ordered to install an ignition interlock device. This is a breathalyzer attached to your car that you will have to blow to start your vehicle. The car will not start without a breath sample reading under 0.025.

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.

There are many possible defenses that can be used to fight a DUI.

  • Proof of driving or in actual physical control
  • Probable cause
  • Implied consent warnings
  • Blood-Alcohol concentration
  • 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's are full of interesting legal issues. Often times, we are able to 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 we 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. 

At Powers Sellers & Finkelstein, we understand that facing a criminal charge can be frightening and overwhelming. Due to the potential consequences associated with the crime of DUI, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced defense attorney right away.  Our team has over 35 years of combined experience defending citizens charged with DUI. We have the knowledge and skills to fight for the best result in your case. Our lawyers are accessible and dependable when you need them the most.

Contact us at (727) 531-2926 to schedule a free analysis of your case at our local office located in Clearwater, Florida. We handle cases in Pinellas County and the surrounding areas to include Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Sarasota County, Pasco County, and Polk County.  It is crucial to learn your legal options if you have been accused of DUI. Let us start working for you today!

For more information, please visit our DUI FAQ page.

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