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What are the penalties for a first-time DUI in Florida?

It's a mistake many people make: getting behind the wheel after a few too many drinks. Because driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can cause serious injury or deaths, the law around DUI offenses is strict in Florida. Penalties can be harsh, even for a first-time offender. Even if it does not include jail time, it could impact your driver's license and cost you hefty fees.

Besides a likely overnight stay in jail after your arrest, most of the time a first DUI does not involve jail time as a penalty. Here are the penalties a first-time offender could be facing after a DUI arrest in Florida:

  • Minimum license suspension or revocation for six months
  • Requirement to attend alcohol assessment, treatment and education
  • Your vehicle could be confiscated
  • Requirement to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for a specific period of time, if the judge decides to order this
  • Refusal of a breathalyzer test or blood test has more consequences, since Florida is an implied consent law state. This means by driving on Florida roads, you consent to testing for alcohol if you are suspected of drinking and driving.

Blood alcohol concentration limits

The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent. If you are under age 21, the zero tolerance law requires your BAC to be limited to 0.02 percent. There are extra penalties for drivers who have a BAC of 0.15 percent or more. This includes:

  • Requirement of an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for six months if you are a first-time offender with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher.
  • Otherwise, an ignition interlock device is required for second offenses, with a use of the device for one year, or third offenses with two or more years of mandatory use of the device.

Understanding the law and your rights can help minimize the impact of a DUI charge or conviction on your life. While coping with feelings like fear and anxiety over what might happen, an attorney can help ease the burden and reduce the fear of the unknown. A criminal defense attorney skilled in this area can help evaluate the evidence against you, and show if any evidence is not valid. Sometimes, police make mistakes in following the law around when they would have a reason to pull you over, or improperly administering a field sobriety test. An attorney can also help you explore your options for the least amount of negative consequences for your DUI charge.

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