In Florida, the consequences of a DUI conviction are serious and far-reaching, even if it is your first time. You could face possible jail time, steep fines, and other significant criminal and administrative penalties, such as automatic driver’s license suspension or revocation. However, the state offers several programs for those accused of a first-time DUI offense to avoid certain penalties. It may be in your best interests to complete one of these programs, as this could result in your charges being dropped.
We have extensive experience representing clients against all types of DUI charges, as well as an in-depth understanding of Florida’s various DUI programs and penalties. Our team can provide personalized counsel tailored to your unique situation and can guide you through the process of working to have your charges dropped.
The genuine care and concern Mr. Ali showed us during a difficult time were very much appreciated. It has been a long journey, however, Mr. Ali and the team at Ali & Blankner have been there with us each step along the way.T.M.
What Are the Penalties for a First-Time DUI in Florida?
Florida law prohibits anyone from operating a motor vehicle (including automobiles, boats, and other vehicles) while impaired by alcohol or drugs. It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above. If someone is under the age of 21, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or above.
If you are found to have violated the law, you could face harsh penalties—even for a first-time offense. This is especially true if you already have a criminal record or a past conviction for another crime.
In Florida, the penalties for a first-time DUI include:
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Fines ranging between $500 and $2,000
- 50 hours of community service or additional fines
- Up to 1 year of probation
- Driver’s license revocation of 180 days to 1 year
If a person is found to have a BAC of .15% or higher, fines increase to between $2,000 and $4,000, and the individual may be sentenced to up to 9 months in jail. If anyone was injured or killed in an accident caused by the person who was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if there was a minor in the vehicle at the time, the penalties will also increase.
Why You Need a Defense Attorney for a First-Time DUI Charge
Even if you are a candidate for one of the three programs, you still need an Orlando first-time DUI lawyer to advise you on the pros and cons of each of these programs, as well as what to do after you have completed the program.
Additionally, you may be eligible for sealing and/or expunging evidence of your arrest upon the successful completion of these programs. It is important to not only remove any record of your arrest from a “rap sheet” or background check, but you must also remove any record that may be accessed by law enforcement and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Having a lawyer guide you through this process can help you to determine whether these programs should be accepted or whether to fight the case through litigation and trial.
Call Our First-Time DUI Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you have been arrested for or charged with a DUI in Florida, whether it is your first time or you have prior DUI convictions, we urge you to contact our firm right away. At Ali & Blankner, we can meet with you at no cost to discuss the specifics of your situation and immediately begin devising a plan of action on your behalf.
During your consultation, please ask us whether your case may be a candidate for record sealing or expungement. In many circumstances, we can file the necessary paperwork and represent you during the hearing to have your record sealed or expunged without any extra fee (just the cost of filing the motion with the clerk’s office).
Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) oversees a range of licensed DUI programs that may be available to eligible individuals. These programs provide information and education on drugs, alcohol, and driving to those arrested for DUI and may be court-ordered or required for driver licensing purposes.
First-time DUI offenders can participate in what are known as Level I programs. These programs include at least 12 hours of in-person instruction and are available statewide.
In addition to education DUI programs, the state of Florida has three diversion programs for first-time offenders:
- Pretrial Diversion: Pretrial diversion serves as an alternative to prosecution, allowing you to avoid court and related proceedings and, instead, complete a supervised program. You typically only qualify for pretrial diversion if you are a first-time offender.
- Pretrial Intervention: Pretrial intervention programs are similar to probation, in that you must regularly report to a supervisor, complete community service, attend counseling or related treatment, and pay various program fees.
- Drug Court: Drug court is a voluntary program that allows you to avoid standard court proceedings and, instead, attend a specialized drug treatment court. Typically, this involves numerous appearances before a judge, as well as routine drug testing and treatment.
At Ali & Blankner, our Orlando first-time DUI lawyers can help you review all of your legal options. If you are eligible for pretrial diversion, pretrial intervention, or drug court after a first-time DUI arrest, we can help you take the next steps and work to protect your future.
We offer complimentary consultations and several payment options for your convenience. Our bilingual attorneys and staff can assist you in English or Spanish, and we are happy to discuss your options, answer your questions, and share how we can help you protect your rights.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with DUI with no prior convictions, contact Ali & Blankner right away to talk to our Orlando first-time DUI defense lawyers.
How a First-Time DUI Can Affect Your Future
Generally speaking, Florida law enforcement takes all DUIs seriously—even if it is your first time being arrested or charged with driving under the influence. In the most serious cases, you could face jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, driver’s license suspension or revocation, mandatory community service, and participation in certain substance abuse education programs. However, there are ways to limit or even avoid the harshest penalties associated with a first-time DUI.
For first-time offenders and certain repeat offenders, it may be possible to avoid some of the more serious consequences of a first-time DUI. There are certain programs available depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, as well as your criminal history. If you are eligible for pretrial diversion, pretrial intervention, or drug court, and you successfully complete the program, your charges will be dropped.
It is important to note, however, that avoiding some of the criminal penalties of a DUI does not mean that an arrest won’t have an impact on your future. Even if your charges get dropped, it does not mean there will be no evidence that you were arrested for a DUI. Why is this important? For one thing, law enforcement routinely “run tags” and access your arrest record. For example, upon seeing that you have an arrest for theft, drug possession, and DUI, they may continue to follow your vehicle until they determine they can pull you or your vehicle over and detain you for purposes of an investigation.
Another example is your employer may run a background check on you and learn that you were previously arrested despite the fact the charges were dropped, which may result in termination of employment. Likewise, your insurance company has the same access to your criminal history and may raise your rates or even drop your policy depending on the crime for which you were arrested.
Dedicated & Experienced Counsel
With over 35 years of experience and thousands of clients helped, Ali & Blankner has the skills, resources, and determination to get you the best possible result.
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The criminal lawyers in Orlando at Ali & Blankner are aggressive advocates who are willing to do whatever it takes to obtain a favorable resolution. We are committed to defending your rights and protecting your future.
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