What Happens When You Get a DUI in Florida

Are you facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Tampa or anywhere else in Hillsborough County? If this is your first DUI offense, certainly you have questions. “Will I have to go to jail? Will I get a criminal record? Will a DUI come up on background checks?” and so on. While a first-time Florida DUI (misdemeanor) conviction typically leads to probation, 50 hours of community service, up to a $1,000 fine, up to nine months in jail, and up to a one-year license revocation, there are other consequences you should be aware of.

A DUI conviction under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes is still a criminal offense, even if it was a simple, first-time DUI. Meaning, if you’re convicted of DUI, you would still have a criminal record, which in itself leads to a host of negative consequences. If you’re considering pleading guilty to DUI or forgoing legal representation, we want you to know all the facts. The following is how a DUI conviction can impact your life for many years to come:

1. Immigration: Generally, a simple, first-time DUI will not lead to removal proceedings for a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder); however, a drug-related DUI or a felony DUI can lead to deportation. Essentially, it’s up to an immigration judge, but if the permanent resident has a history of too many misdemeanor convictions, or if it’s a felony DUI or drugs were involved, the DUI can trigger removal proceedings in serious cases. In reference to DUIs committed by immigrants, Black’s Law Dictionary had this to say, “In the end, the decision is up to the jurisdiction where you reside, prosecutor, law enforcement officials and the judge.”

2. Travelling Abroad: While a DUI should not affect a U.S. citizen’s ability to obtain a U.S. passport, other countries may not let the person into their country with a recent DUI conviction; Canada is a great example of this. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Canada may not allow persons with DUI (driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol) convictions to enter their country.” So, you may be able to get a U.S. passport, but the country you’re travelling to may bar you from entering.

3. Child Custody: If you are in the middle of a divorce or child custody battle or if you encounter child custody issues in the near future, a DUI can affect your ability to win custody. For example, the child’s other parent could argue that you have an alcohol problem or that you could drink and drive with your child in the vehicle, placing his or her life at risk. In other words, if a child custody battle is close, a DUI can tip the scales in your former spouse’s favor. Learn more about child custody by reading Section 61.13 of the Florida Statutes.

4. Employment Opportunities: Like most states, Florida is an at-will-employment state, which means an employer can fire an employee for any reason, with the exception of discrimination. So, an employer is within their legal right to terminate an employee if he or she is arrested for or convicted of DUI. Beyond that, DUIs affect future employment opportunities as well. Depending on the industry and the employer’s views on criminal convictions, a DUI can cause almost any employer to say to the applicant, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Unfortunately, this is more the norm than the exception in a lot of cases.

5. Professional Licenses: A criminal conviction can affect one’s ability to obtain a professional license. For instance, a question was posed to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation: “I have a criminal history. Will this keep me from getting a barber license?” In response the Florida DBPR said, “Criminal history is reviewed on a case-by-case situation. Your application may require board review.” Yes, a barber license can be affected by a DUI, but so can a real estate license, a notary license and many other professional licenses.

6. Higher Education: Unfortunately, a criminal conviction, including one for a DUI can affect one’s ability to gain entrance into certain colleges. The University of South Florida for example says, “Any student who has an arrest record and who seeks admission to an initial certification program must disclose the arrest record on the Application for Admission to the College of Education.” The college goes on to say that if an applicant withholds such information, he or she will be “administratively dismissed” from the school. Most colleges have similar policies regarding criminal records.

We are only scratching the surface in regards to how a DUI can affect your life. It can also affect housing, your credit, the ability to join the Armed Forces and obtain a security clearance. If you are facing DUI charges in Tampa, contact our firm for a free consultation!