First DUI Offenses in Tampa

Facing a DUI charge for the first time can be frightening in light of the strict Florida laws on the subject and the very real possibility of harsh penalties. A conviction can follow a person for a very long time unless they have an experienced DUI attorney in Tampa to advocate for dismissal of the charges. Despite the serious penalties looming, there is a possibility the accused and their lawyer may appeal the charge and petition for dismissal.

Penalties for a First DUI Offense

A first offense DUI involving a BAC level of more than .08 but less than .15 is considered a second degree misdemeanor punishable by fines, time served in jail, license suspension and restrictions. A person found guilty of DUI for the first time will face a fine of at least $500 but no more than $1,000 and a jail sentence of no more than six months.

A first offense DUI will result in the driver's license being suspended for at least six months and mandatory community service of at least 50 hours. If the person is not capable of fulfilling the community service requirement, they may opt to pay an additional fine of $10 per every hour of community service ordered ($500). Certain factors may elevate the charges of first offense and call for increased penalties such as a BAC of more than .15 percent, injuries or property damaged during the incident and the refusal of a chemical test.

Fighting a First Offense DUI

At the time of arrest, the police will confiscate the driver's license and issue a "Notice of Suspension" which acts as a license for 10 days after it is issued. After the 10 days are up, the driver's license will be suspended for six months by default unless they contest the charges. Every person in Florida who is charged with DUI for the first time is entitled to appear at an administrative driver's license hearing concerning the suspension of their license.

In fact, it is highly advised that all individuals charged do so and be accompanied by a DUI attorney to represent them. The hearing, which occurs before an administrative judge through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, is a chance for the attorney representing the defendant to present evidence and argue a case in order to avoid the suspension of their client's license. It is important to remember that the individual has only 10 days from their arrest to request such a hearing if they wish to avoid a longer suspension.

A DUI attorney can not only offer representation at an administrative hearing but also argue on behalf of their client in criminal court in order to have the charges reduced or dismissed altogether. If the individual wishes to plead "not guilty" to the charges brought against them, a trial will resume where a judge and/or jury will hear from the arresting officer, the prosecution and any witnesses brought on by the defense on the behalf of the defendant. If the ruling is in favor of the defendant, the charges will be dismissed.

Don't Wait to Contact a DUI Attorney in Tampa

While defense is possible against a first offense DUI, action must be taken immediately. Conviction of the charge means serious implications both immediate and long term. If you are facing a DUI charge for the first time, the stakes are far too high to waste any time in contacting a DUI attorney in Tampa to defend you. Thomas & Paulk, P.A. offers quality legal representation against DUI charges and the attorneys at the firm want to offer their services to you in your time of need. Contact us as soon as possible to strengthen your defense!

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