A DUI charge is understandably one of the most serious kinds of criminal charges that there is. It is easy to see why because driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous. It can put the lives of the intoxicated driver and everyone else on the road with them in serious danger. It is an act that can carry very serious penalties including fines, jail time, and a license suspension. If the DUI offender caused an accident, then that can make things even worse.
However, if it is the person’s first offense, then the penalties may not be as serious as subsequent offenses. No matter whether a DUI is a first offense or not, legal experts like attorney Parikh suggest that DUI offenders contact an attorney to help them. An attorney can help to reduce or even eliminate the penalties no matter the situation.
Penalties For a First Time DUI Offense
The penalties for a first-time DUI offense differ from state to state, but in general, they are not as serious compared to subsequent DUI offenses. That does not mean that the offender will get off lightly because they could still face serious consequences even for a first offense, plus there can be enhanced penalties if certain conditions are present when the DUI happened. In Florida, first-time DUI offenders face the following penalties.
For a first offense, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) will suspend the license of drunk drivers with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) over 0.8% for six months. If the driver refuses to take a chemical test, then they could face a license suspension of one year. A license suspension is possible even if the driver is not convicted of a DUI in court.
A driver who is convicted of a DUI may face the following criminal penalties in the state of Florida:
Jail Time – The amount of jail time a first time DUI offender may face depends on the circumstances of their case:
- Six months for a regular DUI
- Nine months if the driver had a BAC of 0.15% or more
- Nine months if there was a passenger younger than 18 in the vehicle
- One year if there was an accident that caused property damage or minor injuries
- Five years if there was an accident that caused serious bodily injuries
Fines – The fines in a DUI case also depend on the circumstances of the case:
- $500 to $1000 for a standard DUI
- $1000 to $2000 if the driver’s BAC was 0.15% or more, or if there was a passenger under 18 in the vehicle
- $5000 if there was an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury
License Suspension – A first-time offender could have their license suspended for six months to a year. This is different from the administrative suspension, but sometimes the suspensions will overlap.
Probation – First-time DUI offenders will be put on probation, but the combined probation period and jail time cannot exceed one year.
Community Service – First-time DUI offenders are required to complete at least 50 hours of community service.
Ignition Interlock Devices – These are not mandatory for all first-time offenders, but a judge can order one if the driver had a BAC of 0.8% or more. Drivers with a BAC of 0.15% or more, or drivers who had a passenger under 18 in their vehicle will have an IID placed on their vehicle for at least six months.
Vehicle Impoundment – A first-time DUI offender will have their vehicle impounded for at least ten days.