Florida law makes driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances one offense, proven by “impairment of normal faculties” or an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more. Regardless of how prosecutors prove the offense, the penalties are the same.
- A person’s first DUI conviction generally results in license suspension (six months to a year), as specified by the judge. Some counties in Florida participate in a diversion program for first-time DUI offenders called Back on Track. Successful completion of this program may result in a conviction for reckless driving in lieu of DUI.
- A second DUI conviction generally results in license suspension for at least five years, if the offense occurred within five years from the defendant’s first DUI conviction.
- A third DUI conviction generally results in license suspension for at least 10 years, if the offense occurred within 10 years of two prior DUI convictions.
- A fourth or any additional DUI conviction generally results in the perpetual revocation of the offender’s license.
- Finally, a conviction for DUI manslaughter may result in the permanent revocation of the defendant’s legal right to drive.
DUI convictions from other jurisdictions count when determining a defendant’s prior convictions.
Collateral Consequences of Florida DUI Convictions
Some DUI charges result in felony convictions, which can have serious collateral consequences, including:
- Ineligibility for many public benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program
- Difficulty finding transportation
- Ineligibility for public housing
- Inability to rent or lease homes or apartments
- Permanent FBI records that are never sealed or expunged
- Placing DNA samples in a crime database
- Failure to obtain college financial aid
- Longer prison terms or mandatory sentences for future convictions
- Having your photograph posted on the Florida Department of Corrections website
- Deportation of non-U.S. citizens
- Professional licensing agency investigations
Arrest versus Conviction
Although you may feel as if a DUI charge means the end of the world, the assistance of an experienced St. Petersburg DUI defense attorney may help you avoid conviction and incarceration.
To protect your rights, and secure the best possible outcome in your case, seek help from an experienced attorney.
Remember, a DUI arrest or charge is not the same a conviction. Whether your charges result in conviction depends on the specific circumstances surrounding your arrest.
For example, in Florida, people stopped for suspected DUI are generally required to take a Breathalyzer or field sobriety test. However, testing instruments are not always exact, and your attorney may challenge the introduction of evidence from these tests in court. Common problems with these tests include:
- An officer’s subjectivity
- A driver’s chronic medical condition
- Poor lighting, uneven roads, weather conditions, and more
Call the Khonsari Law Group to Protect Your Rights
Regardless of where you are in the process, you have the right to seek counsel and mount a legal defense. If you are charged with DUI, contact a Florida DUI defense attorney immediately. Call the Khonsari Law Group at (727) 269-5300, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys today.