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You’ve Been Charged With a DUI – Now What?

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Being charged with a DUI can be a life-changing incident, especially if you rely on your driver’s license for employment, taking care of your family, and running errands. 

If you ever find yourself in this situation, it’s easy to feel unsure about what comes next and what your future will look like. However, the following information may shed some light on what to do and what you can expect. 

When Can You Be Charged With a DUI?

As any Tampa criminal defense attorney will tell you, you can be charged with a DUI if you drive with alcohol in your bloodstream. The federal legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit is 0.08%, but it may be less than that, depending on your age. In some states, you can also be charged with a DUI without an officer even checking your blood-alcohol content level with a breathalyzer. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

A criminal defense attorney specializing in DUIs can be your first port of call for deciding what to do next. They can review the facts of your case, look for any discrepancies in the provided information, and help you decide which way to plead to put you in the best possible position for a desirable outcome. 

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Even if you plead guilty and receive a DUI conviction, having an attorney on your side can ensure that you understand what steps you need to take to get your driver’s license back and move on with your life as quickly as possible. 

First Conviction DUI vs. Second Conviction DUI

Florida is one of the strictest states when it comes to DUI penalties. Even for a first-time conviction, you may be required to pay fines of up to $2,000 and even receive a jail sentence of up to six months if your BAC was 0.15% or higher. 

If you had a minor in your vehicle, you might also be required to pay fines of between $2,000 and $4,000, along with a potential prison sentence of up to nine months. Depending on your circumstances, 50 hours of community service, a year of probation, and a loss of driver’s license for between six months and a year may also be penalties you face for your first conviction. 

While the penalties associated with your first DUI in Florida can be tough enough, those of a subsequent DUI can be even tougher. You may have to pay a fine of between $2,000 and $4,000 and may face imprisonment for up to a year. 

You may also face other penalties, such as up to a year on probation, a loss of license for up to five years, the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, and the requirement to attend a Florida DUI school. 

Third Conviction DUI

If you’re facing your third DUI, calling a Tampa DUI attorney can be crucial. The consequences of a third DUI can be severe, and quality legal representation may be necessary so that you’re fully aware of the implications associated with your situation. 

For a third DUI in Florida, you may be required to pay a fine of up to $5,000, which may come with a prison sentence at the court’s discretion of up to five years. If you’ve had a previous conviction within the past 10 years, you may have to spend a minimum of 30 days in jail. 

There are also other penalties, depending on your unique situation. These include a loss of your driver’s license for up to 10 years, the installation of an ignition interlock device, and a permanent felony conviction on your criminal record. 

DUI Categories in Florida to Know

When you choose a criminal defense lawyer in Florida to guide you through the DUI process, they may walk you through the different DUI categories. These categories and their relevance to your situation can depend on whether your actions caused property damage, injury, or death. 

A first-time DUI means you have no previous DUI on your record, while a misdemeanor DUI can apply to your first and second offense. A third or subsequent DUI can be charged as felonies. 

If you cause property damage, injury, or death, or have minors in the car or no full license, you may be charged with aggravated DUI, DUI with property damage, DUI with serious bodily injury, or DUI manslaughter.