Posting Bail After a Tampa DUI

Once you are arrested during a traffic stop for driving under the influence (DUI) in Tampa, you will soon realize that the whole legal process has only just begun. You will be taken down to the station for “booking” or “processing” and you will be put in what’s called the “drunk tank” for a while before you can go home.

Whenever someone is jailed for DUI, their first priority is to get out. What follows the initial incarceration after the DUI arrest is obtaining a release through bale or an own recognizance release.

Why do DUI suspects post bail?

After booking, a DUI suspect may pay money (bail), and in exchange they are promising to appear in court for all of their scheduled court proceedings, such as the arraignment and the preliminary hearing etc.

Sometimes a DUI suspect is not allowed to post bail right after they are booked. However, a judge may decide during the arraignment or a preliminary hearing, or even at the trial, that the defendant can be released on bail.

How much is bail for a DUI in Tampa? In some cases bail is determined through what’s called a “bail schedule.” Other times, the judge may decide to set a specific bail amount based on the following factors:

  • The suspect’s criminal record
  • The suspect’s history of prior DUIs (if any)
  • The seriousness of the DUI offense
  • Whether the suspect injured or killed anyone as a result of the DUI incident
  • The suspect’s ties to their family and the community
  • The suspect’s employment situation

What if I can’t afford to post bail?

Sometimes a DUI suspect simply can’t afford to post bail. In that situation, the suspect themselves, or the suspect’s friends or family are allowed to come up with the full bail amount that was established by the court, or the suspect may post a “bond” in place of the full amount.

What is a bond? It’s a promise or a written guarantee that if the suspect fails to appear at any of their court appearances, the full bail amount will be paid. Usually, people obtain their bonds from bail bond agencies, which typically post the bond for a fee of about 10% of the bail amount.

In many cases, a bail bond agency will require other collateral before they post bond. Why? Because, if the defendant skips town or otherwise “fails to appear,” the bail bond agency is on the hook for the full bail amount.

Own Recognizance Release

In some situations a driver is arrested for DUI, taken down to the station for booking, and is eventually granted what’s called an “own recognizance” (OR) release. In this case, the defendant is not required to pay any bail money to be released from police custody.

Although the suspect is released from custody, it doesn’t mean they are “walking away” from their DUI charges. Instead, the suspect signs a written agreement, promising to appear in court for all future criminal court proceedings.

Usually, when a criminal court releases a defendant on their own recognizance, there are conditions attached. For example, it’s common for suspects on OR release to contact the court regularly for updates on their case, and to be prohibited from travelling out of the area while their case is pending in the courts.

When a DUI suspect is released on bail or OR release and they fail to appear at a scheduled court appearance, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Under Section 843.15 of the Florida Statutes, if a defendant is on bail and they fail to appear, they face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the original offense.

If the original offense was a misdemeanor, the defendant faces a separate misdemeanor of the first degree charge under Sec. 843.15. If the original offense was for felony DUI and the defendant does not show up in court, the defendant will be charged with the separate offense failure to appear, a felony of the third degree.

Looking for a Tampa DUI attorney to fight your DUI charges? Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. to schedule a free case evaluation with a former prosecutor!