Frequently Asked Questions
Will I go to jail?
DUI charges come in different "flavors" because there are multiple DUI statutes in Florida. Sentences on DUI cases in Florida consider the underlying facts of the current charge and balance that with your prior history. If you have a prior DUI conviction, it may trigger certain minimum mandatory jail sentences.
If you are dealing with a first offense, then jail is
very unlikely unless there are some aggravating circumstances. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can go over all of the various aggravators as well as defenses to ensure the best possible result in your case.
Per Florida statute, a first DUI conviction carries possible jail sentences of 6 to 9 months. In reality, jail sentences are rarely given for first time DUI offenders.
Will I have a criminal record?
It depends. Driving under the influence convictions in Florida are mandated by Florida Statute to be adjudicated guilty. A guilty conviction, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, will remain on your criminal record for life. A withhold of adjudication (or "adjudication withheld") may allow for that charge to be sealed or expunged as long as you have no other convictions for other charges on your record.
As DUI charges can never be withheld, an experienced attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed, modified, or reduced to a charge where a withhold of adjudication becomes possible. Know that even if your charge is dismissed or withheld, you must take further affirmative steps to seal or expunge that record. It is not done automatically. Our law office has experience in sealing and expunging cases and can explain the entire process to you.
Will my driver's license be suspended?
When charged with a DUI offense in Florida, you face sanctions in two forums: administrative and criminal.
If arrested on a DUI charge in Florida, depending on the facts of that case, you may trigger a license suspension under Florida's implied consent laws. If the police had probable cause to arrest you, and if you provided a breath sample over the legal limit (.08), or alternatively, refused to provide a breath or urine sample, your license will be suspended for a period of time designated by statute.
Within 10 days from date of arrest, you must choose between 3 options on what to do about this administrative suspension.
Option 1: Do nothing. If you do not take action during the first 10 days, you will receive notification from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that your driving privileges are suspended for a specified amount of time. You may have eligibility for a hardship license, depending on the circumstances of your DUI charge and your driving history. After 30 days of no driving privileges whatsoever if providing a breath result over .08, or 90 days of no driving privileges if breath or urine were refused, you may apply for a hardship license after enrolling in a DUI school.
Option 2: Request a formal review hearing. You may request a formal hearing with the Bureau of Administrative Review to challenge your license suspension. Upon making this request, you will be issued a hardship license that is valid for 42 days. Your administrative review hearing will occur prior to that 42 day expiration date.
Upon requesting a formal review hearing, a hearing officer will set a date where evidence will be presented on whether to uphold or dismiss your license suspension. It is your responsibility-or your attorney's if you have hired one- to subpoena and produce witnesses and present a defense to challenge the police officer's probable cause and whether the breath test is validly over .08 or was a valid refusal. If you prevail at this hearing, your driving privileges will remain as they were before you were arrested. If you do not prevail at this hearing, then it will have the same effect as choosing Option 1 above. (A period of no driving privileges followed by a hardship license with restricted driving privileges.)
Our office has experience with hundreds of administrative review hearings and can help guide you through this process and appear on your behalf.
Option 3: If this is your first DUI arrest, you may elect to sign up for the DUI Level One School in the county in which you reside. Within 10 days from the date of your arrest, you may then take proof of enrollment to the Bureau of Administrative Review. They will suspend your license for the statutorily mandated amount of time, but you will immediately be given a hardship license that will run the entire duration of that suspension. There will not be a time period where you will have no driving privileges if you select Option 3.
Which of these option is "best" should be decided with your attorney. Many law firms will push you to choose Option 1 or 3 on the grounds that administrative review hearings are "pointless" and that you "never win". This is not the case for an office experienced in handling such hearings.
If convicted of a DUI offense or reduced charge, a criminal court judge may order a driver's license suspension as a part of your sentence. This suspension is "separate" from your administrative suspension. The timelines may run concurrently. Criminal law suspensions can range from 6 months to a lifetime suspension, depending on the number of prior DUI convictions and the specific facts of your case. Contact our firm to discuss your individual situation for a more precise answer.
If convicted of a DUI, without the charge being modified or reduced, Florida Statute mandates some period of license suspension. Our office has had success in hundreds of cases in getting charges reduced or dismissed to avoid license suspension.