The Penalty for Your First DUI


Last Updated: March 23rd, 2023 at 6:06 am
Read Time: 7 Minutes

If you have been charged with a first-time DUI offense, there are likely many questions you need to have answered, and finding a Florida DUI attorney is the best course of action to take. As a person who has never been through the legal process after being arrested for driving under the influence, it’s a frightening time. You likely want to know what penalties you are facing and how they will affect your life and your future.

Contact a law firm that specializes in DUI charges immediately upon your arrest. Do not wait for your first court hearing. In the state of Florida, you may apply for what is known as a hardship license or work permit to retain your right to drive, but you only have ten days from the date of the arrest to do so. For this reason, you must have a lawyer begin working on your case as soon as possible.

The reality is that DUI offenses, no matter whether you are a first time offender or have prior convictions, are a serious matter. The legal repercussions can be severe. They can impact the type of employment you gain in the future, your ability to purchase a firearm, and how you complete daily activities and errands if your license is suspended.

Do not go through a DUI proceeding alone. Partner Matt Shafran, head of the Criminal Defense Division at Weinstein Legal, leads the criminal team based on his vast experience in the realm of DUI law and has handled DUI cases ranging from first time offenders to DUI manslaughter in Florida. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. It may save you from severe penalties, fines, and even jail time.

Consequences of a First-Time DUI in Florida

You can be arrested for DUI based on an officer believing that your normal faculties are impaired. At some point during the investigation, you will be asked to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample. If you find yourself arrested for a DUI in Florida, whether your blood-alcohol or breath sample was at or higher than .08%, we have offices in Palm Beach County and Broward County to assist you.

The reason that hiring an attorney is so crucial, even for a DUI in Florida that’s a first offense, is that the consequences can be severe and impactful on your daily life.

The penalties that you face will be determined based on several factors. These factors include how high your blood alcohol content was or if you refused to provide a sample, whether or not there was a minor involved, and whether any person(s) or property were damaged during the incident. If you’ve caused bodily harm to another individual, you should seek counsel from a DUI manslaughter lawyer immediately.

If your blood alcohol level was higher than 0.08% but less than 0.15%, you will face a fine between $500 and $1,000. If your blood alcohol level was 0.15% or higher, you could face fines as high as $2,000. If you had an under-aged child with you in the vehicle while you were driving under the influence, no matter what your blood alcohol level was, you will face the higher fine and could possibly be charged with a felony for Child Neglect as well.

In addition to the mandatory fines, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to twelve months.

You may also face probation and jail time. For a DUI in Florida, if it is your first offense, you can spend up to six months in jail if your blood alcohol content was below 0.15%. If your blood-alcohol content was higher than that amount, the penalty could be up to nine months in jail. If there was a minor involved, you can face the nine-month penalty even if your blood-alcohol content was not that high. It is crucial to hire a DUI attorney to argue on your behalf for the lowest possible sentencing and to avoid jail time.

It is important to note that in the state of Florida, a DUI conviction, even if it is your first offense, will remain on your record for life. That means that any job you apply for, any time you go to renew car insurance, or any house or apartment you attempt to rent or buy, the DUI charge will appear. It is important to hire a qualified and expereinced DUI lawyer to help fight your arrest for DUI.

Partner Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal is a former prosecutor in Palm Beach County who has handle DUI cases all throughout the county including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Wellington, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, and more. He has also handled DUI cases in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and many other counties throughout the State of Florida.

Read more about DUI laws in Florida on the official state website here.

Social Consequences of a DUI in Florida

Not only are the legal ramifications of a DUI in Florida significant, but the social consequences can be severe as well. If you share custody of your children, your co-parent may try to argue in court that you are unfit to care for your child. If you lose your license and have no means of transportation, you may not be able to make it to work, and you could lose your job.

Additionally, without a license, you will be unable to drive to doctor’s appointments, gatherings with friends, the supermarket, and anywhere else that you are accustomed to going daily. Having a DUI conviction and losing your license can impact you significantly.

Is There a Difference Between a DUI and a DWI?

In short, no, there is not a difference between a DUI and a DWI, and you may hear them used interchangeably. The reason for this is that each state in the country creates its own laws regarding driving a vehicle while intoxicated. Some states refer to the charge as a DWI, which stands for Driving While Intoxicated, or Driving While Impaired, which may also reference drugs were involved.

In the state of Florida, the charge is called a DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, regardless of the circumstances.

What Does It Mean to be “In Control” of Your Vehicle?

To be charged and convicted of a DUI in Florida, you must be the person who was in actual physical control of your vehicle. The prosecution must prove this was the case to convict you.

The definition gets murky, and this is where many individuals get confused. It is what makes it absolutely vital to have a DUI attorney represent you as this one simple fact can make or break the entire case.

If you were driving your vehicle and you were pulled over, and then found to be intoxicated, you were in control of your vehicle. However, if your vehicle was parked in a parking lot or on the side of the road and you were intoxicated while inside, can you still be charged with DUI?

A prosecutor may claim that yes, you can be convicted, as you were in actual physical control of your vehicle at that time, and you were under the influence. Even if the car is not running, you may still be charged. What this means is that you can possibly lose your license, face hefty fines, and even jail time if you were not driving your car but rather just had the ability to operate the vehicle. Having an experienced DUI lawyer, like the ones at Weinstein Legal, who have crafted legal arguments that have worked in front of Jury’s already, will be helpful for you if you get arrested for DUI in a situation like this.

Do not let this happen. Seek the help of a Florida DUI attorney immediately.

How to Seek Legal Representation

Seeking legal representation if you are arrested for a DUI in Florida on a first offense is crucial to your future. You have a lot to lose if you do not. Don’t risk spending time in jail and losing your license for an extended time. IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY!

The team at Weinstein Legal is standing by to fight for your rights aggressively in court. Hire the best first-time DUI defense attorney in Florida to represent you. Contact us today and protect your future.