While DUI, driving under the influence, occurs while operating a motor vehicle, the offense itself is criminal in nature. A DUI typically occurs in conjunction with traffic offenses, which is why you were likely stopped in the first place. For example, if you failed to signal your turn and were pulled over, the officer may also charge you with DUI if they determine that you have been drinking. These charges are independent of each other. DUI is a criminal offense and carries specific penalties that may include such things as fines, jail time, and a suspension of your driver’s license. Because DUI is a criminal charge, it must be taken very seriously. If convicted of DUI it will be on your record and could have a negative impact on many aspects of your life.

DMV Hearing

The first thing you must do if charged with DUI is request a hearing with the Florida DHSMV. This hearing must be requested within the first ten days after your arrest. If you wait longer than that you’ll have given up your right to this important hearing. What is a DHSMV hearing? At the time of your DUI arrest you’ll have given up your driver’s license and unless otherwise determined, your license will be temporarily suspended until the outcome of your DUI court case is resolved. This can be weeks or even months. In order to maintain your driving privileges you’ll need to state your case at the DMV. It is helpful to have your attorney represent you in this initial DHSMV hearing. In many cases you’ll be able to maintain at least a restricted driver’s license until the case is completed. If you fail to request a hearing you may end up with a suspended license for 6 months or longer.

DUI Penalties

The penalties for DUI conviction in Florida are harsh. Even first-time offenders will be subject to punishments that will include:

  • Suspension or revocation of driver’s license
  • Jail sentence
  • Fines
  • Driving classes
  • Rehabilitation

The penalties for subsequent DUI convictions increase. Also, if the DUI occurred in conjunction with an accident with injuries or property damage, or with a minor in the vehicle, the penalties increase as well. Most often those who are convicted of DUI for the first time will have their driver’s license suspended for a period of time (typically at least 6 months), will have to pay fines of at least $500 or more, and may have to serve a jail sentence. Your attorney will work immediately to try to get the charges reduced and the amount of bail lowered.

Resolving DUI Charges

Remember that just because you are charged with DUI doesn’t mean that you’re guilty. You aren’t guilty of charges unless you are found guilty in court. It’s essential to seek guidance and support from an experienced DUI attorney. Your lawyer will review all the evidence of the initial arrest as well as the results of any DUI tests that were completed. With this information your attorney will present the defense that will result in the best possible outcome in your case. Every DUI case is different and your lawyer will need to take a look at everything involved in working towards your defense. Your attorney will guide you through the complex legal process and will work tirelessly to help resolve your DUI charges in the most favorable way.