What are the potential penalties if I'm convicted of DUI?
DUI is different from most crimes in Florida with respect to the range of penalties. In Florida, DUI carries certain mandatory minimum penalties which the judge is required by law to impose upon conviction. In addition, the maximum penalties most DUIs are specifically defined.
To illustrate the specific penalties which are unique to DUI, the maximum and mandatory minimum penalties for a first DUI conviction are as follows:
Mandatory minimum penalties include:
- an adjudication of guilt (the judge cannot withhold adjudication, and you will have a permanent criminal record which can never be sealed or expunged)
- one year of supervised probation, including monthly reporting and costs of supervision
- a $500.00 fine, plus applicable court costs*
- a 6-month driver's license suspension (separate from any administrative suspension imposed by DHSMV)
- completion of Level I DUI school (a 12-hour course)
- 50 hours of community service
- attendance at one meeting of the Victim Impact Panel
- a 10-day impoundment of vehicle used in DUI
Maximum penalties are any and all of the following:
- $1,000.00 fine**
- One year probation
- 180 days in jail**
*In cases involving a breath or blood alcohol level over 0.15, the minimum fine for a first offense is $1,000.00. In such cases, there is also a mandatory requirement of an ignition interlock device for a period of 6 months, at the sole expense of the defendant.
**In cases involving a breath or blood alcohol level over 0.15, the maximum penalties for a first offense include 270 days in jail and a fine of $2,000.00.
This assumes the case does not involve property damage, injuries to or death of another, or a breath or blood alcohol test result over 0.15. For cases involving any of these factors, or for a second or subsequent conviction for DUI, Florida law may impose other specific penalties. The judge may also impose any lawful condition of probation not listed above, including a requirement that the driver abstain completely from the use of alcohol while on probation. Please contact our office with questions about the possible penalties for your DUI case.
Are breath test results always reliable?
Florida law and administrative regulations impose detailed requirements on how breath tests are requested of a driver and administered by the police. There are also a number of detailed requirements relating to the maintenance and repair of breath test instruments. The attorneys at The Law Office of Silverman and Vorhis thoroughly review each case in which there is a breath test to determine whether law enforcement has complied with all applicable laws and regulations. If there is a legitimate reason to believe that law enforcement has not complied with these rules and regulations, we may be able to file a motion to exclude the breath test in your case.
Can my refusal to take a breath, blood, or urine test be used against me in court?
Yes, with few exceptions.
Can I still be convicted of DUI if I wasn't drinking, but was on medication that is legally prescribed to me?
Yes. A driver can be convicted of DUI for being under the influence of a controlled substance (as defined in Florida law) to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired. This is true even if the driver has a legal prescription for the medication.
The police officer took my driver's license when I was arrested, and now the DHSMV has suspended my driving privilege. What can I do?
After your arrest for DUI, the DHSMV will suspend your driving privilege if:
- you refused to take a breath, blood, or urine tested requested by the police under Florida's Implied Consent law, or
- you took a breath test or blood test and the result was over 0.08.
This suspension is an administrative penalty, and is separate from any license suspension that may be imposed by the court in your criminal case.
Is there any way to appeal the suspension of my license by the DHSMV?
You have the right to request a formal review hearing to challenge the suspension, but you must request the review – in writing – within 10 days of your arrest.
The Law Office of Silverman and Vorhis can represent you in every aspect of the formal review process, including completion of the proper paperwork to request a hearing, service of subpoenas, and appearance at the hearing on your behalf.
If DHSMV administratively suspends my driving privilege because of a DUI, is there any way I can continue to drive?
If your driving privilege is administratively suspended by the DHMSV because of a DUI, you may be eligible to obtain a "hardship permit" during the term of your suspension. This permit would allow you to drive for business purposes only, generally defined as driving for work, school, and attendance at religious services. The requirements for a hardship permit, including the length of time after your suspension you must wait before applying for a permit, vary by case. Our attorneys can provide more detailed information about how to apply for a hardship permit.
I don't think I broke any traffic laws, or gave the police officer a good reason to pull me over. Does this matter?
The attorneys at The Law Office of Silverman and Vorhis thoroughly review each case to determine the existence of any legal issues relating to the initial stop of your vehicle. If it appears as if there is a legitimate reason to believe that the police acted improperly or illegally when stopping your vehicle, we can file a motion seeking to suppress or exclude some or all of the evidence in your case.
How often will I have to go to court?
Local rules regarding court attendance by defendants vary by jurisdiction. In Alachua County (Gainesville), you may be able to waive your appearance at some of the court events in your case. Our attorneys can advise you about whether, and how often, you may be required to appear in court for your case.
Am I entitled to a jury trial?
Yes. The attorneys of The Law Office of Silverman and Vorhis have extensive experience in DUI jury trials. Please contact our office to discuss our qualifications, and your right to a jury trial.