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Penalties for DUI in Tampa

An In-Depth Look at the Effects of a Florida DUI Conviction

A conviction for driving under the influence in Florida incurs heavy penalties. Even first offense penalties may include a prison sentence of up to six months, a driver's license suspension of up to a year, fines up to $500, and DUI School. The only way to negotiate alternative sentencing or smaller penalties is to work with a lawyer who can protect your legal rights and your driving privileges.

A lawyer from Thomas & Paulk, P.A. can help you through every step of the criminal trial and assist you in the DMV hearing. Our Tampa DUI attorneys have more than two decades of experience. We’ve handled more than 7,000 cases in our careers, developing a results-oriented approach that has protected the accused throughout Hillsborough County. As former prosecutors, we know what strategies are effective against the state’s case, and we use our strategies to reduce charges, get cases dismissed, and get clients acquitted.

Looking for more info and insight regarding DUI penalties in Tampa? Call our team at (813) 321-7323.

Basic DUI Penalties in Florida

The exact penalties for a DUI conviction will vary depending on the specific situation and whether any aggravating factors are present, such as a high blood alcohol concentration or an accident. The following are basic penalties that may be imposed for a DUI conviction in Florida.

First DUI Offense:

  • Potential jail time: 0-6 months
  • Fines of $250-$1,000
  • Driver’s licenses suspension from 6 months to 1 year
  • One year of probation
  • 10-day vehicle impoundment
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • Community service

Second DUI Offense (Within 5 Years):

  • Potential jail time: 10 days-9 months
  • Fines from $500-$2,000
  • Driver’s license suspension for at least 5 years
  • One year of probation
  • 30-day vehicle impoundment
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • Community service
  • DUI School

Third DUI Offense (Within 10 Years):

  • Potential jail time: 30 days-5 years
  • Fines from $1,000-$5,000
  • 10-year driver’s license suspension
  • 1-5 years of probation
  • 90-day vehicle impoundment
  • Ignition Interlock Device
  • Community service
  • DUI School

Fourth DUI Offense (within 10 years):

  • Potential jail time: up to 5 years
  • Fines from $1,000-$5,000
  • Permanent revocation of driver’s license
  • 1-5 years of probation
  • Community service
  • DUI School

The ignition interlock device (IID) is a common repercussion of a DUI conviction. This is a breath machine that prevents a vehicle from operating until a breath test is accomplished. Notably, the machine requires intermittent testing to keep the car operational for the driver.

About the Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

Some DUI penalties are done to punish. Others are done to educate and prevent future offenses. One of the penalties designed to help limit habitual repeat offenders is the ignition interlock device (IID). This is basically a cell phone-sized machine installed into the dashboard of a car. The purpose is simple: to not allow someone to get behind the wheel while drunk.

It accomplishes that by requiring a breath test any time someone starts the vehicle. The threshold for BAL is set at 0.05 percent; if the breath sample is below this threshold, the vehicle will start. If, however, the blood alcohol level of the breath sample is above 0.05 percent, the vehicle will simply sit idly. There are also several safeguards in place to cut down on drivers having a friend provide the breath sample before driving away.

While driving, the device will require several "rolling tests" at random intervals. If a clean sample is provided, there will be no issues. If a sample has too high of BAC, the device will set off an alarm that will not stop until the car is pulled over to a safe area and the engine cut off. Any time a sample is given with too high of a BAC, the event will be recorded and printed out for the proper authorities to look over and deal with accordingly.

In order to use this device, a driver needs to follow these steps:

  • Pay a certified installer to put the IID in their vehicle
  • Agree to have their BAC readings reported to law enforcement
  • Blow into the attached mouthpiece on the device to read their BAL
  • Drive their car, periodically pulling over for BAC checks

If you have questions about the installation of an IID in your vehicle or if you would like to discuss your case with a knowledgeable Tampa DUI defense attorney, contact our team.

RIDR Program & IIDs

If you have qualified for the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) program, you will need to install an IID into your car 60 days after your arraignment. The length of time that the IID must be installed depends on your sanction level as a RIDR program participant.

Depending on the sanction level, a RIDR participant must install an IID in their vehicle for:

  • Level 1: 3 months after the plea
  • Level 2: 9 months after the plea
  • Level 3: 9 months after the plea

DUI Convictions & IIDs

According to Florida Statutes §316.193, ignition interlock devices are required to be installed in the vehicles of certain individuals who are convicted of a DUI. For someone convicted of a first-time conviction, it may be required if ordered by the court. If the BAC was over 0.15 at the time of the arrest or if there was a minor in the car, it will be required for at least six months.

For a second DUI conviction, it will be required for at least a year, unless BAC was over 0.15 percent or if there was a minor in the car. In those cases, it will be installed for at least two years. For a third conviction, it will be required for at least two years. For a fourth or subsequent conviction, it will be required for at least five years with the condition of a hardship license.

In Hillsborough County, the IID vendor which has been selected by the department is Alcohol Countermeasure Systems Corp. which works with Alcolock products. It is important to note that the installation of an ignition interlock device does not only go into one car—it must go into every single car that is either solely or jointly owned or leased by the convicted. It is also completely user-funded.

How Much Does an IID Cost?

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) says the defendant will need to pay for the following:

  • Interlock Fee - $12
  • Installation - $75
  • Monthly Monitoring / Calibration - $72.50
  • Refundable Deposit - $100 or Monthly Insurance Charge - $5

If you are unable to afford this, there are certain situations where the court may allow for a portion of your fine to pay for the device.

Aggravating Factors That Increase DUI Penalties

In the presence of aggravating factors, the penalties for a Tampa, FL DUI will generally be worse, which can also apply to a first-time DUI.

Aggravating factors include:

  • Having a high BAC of 0.15% or higher
  • Having a minor in the vehicle
  • Accidents involving property damage
  • Accidents involving bodily injuries
  • Repeat offenders
  • Accidents involving serious bodily injuries
  • DUI manslaughter (second-degree felony)

Florida judges are not allowed to deviate from the administrative and revocation periods that are imposed by the state. Additionally, the courts are prohibited from reducing a DUI charge in cases where the defendant’s BAC was 0.15% or greater.

Residential Treatment Programs & SCRAM

In the state of Florida, one of the most appealing alternative forms of sentencing includes the possibility of a residential treatment program. This is accepted in many Florida counties and allows for defendants to receive an in-house treatment program for 28 days instead of imprisonment. While not a fail-safe, it does allow for a lawyer to argue that the defendant has undergone the necessary treatment (including counseling and alcohol testing) and has made an effort to recover from their mistakes.

Similarly, another form of alternative DUI sentencing that may be considered is the possibility of using a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) device. This device is worn around the ankle and combines alcohol monitoring with house arrest technology. Those with this device have their alcohol consumption tested via sweat and are tracked by GPS.

Long-Term Consequences of a Tampa DUI

In the face of DUI charges, many defendants fail to consider are the long-term, non-criminal consequences of a DUI conviction. The non-criminal consequences of a DUI are referred to as collateral consequences, which can impact a DUI defendant’s life for years. Collateral consequences not only apply to convicted felons, but to individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanors like DUI. The collateral consequences of a DUI are not temporary—they last indefinitely and long after the individual has paid the legal costs of their mistakes.

The collateral consequences of a Florida DUI include, but are not limited to:

  • Education: Many colleges will deny a student’s application if they have a criminal conviction.
  • Background Checks: These can affect future employment and housing opportunities.
  • Auto insurance: DUI convictions affect your auto insurance and inflate rates for your coverage.
  • Travel: Some countries, such as Canada, deny entry to individuals with DUI convictions.
  • Mobility: Depending on the case, a judge may limit the defendant’s ability to drive in the future.
  • Lifestyle: Probation may prohibit you from drinking and require you to submit to tests.
  • Immigration: A felony DUI or a drug-related DUI can lead to deportation.
  • Child Custody: If you're in a custody battle, a DUI conviction can tip the scales against you.
  • Professional Licenses: Licenses may be canceled or denied due to a recent DUI conviction.
  • Security Clearance: A DUI conviction can lead to the denial of security clearance.
  • Military Careers: This can result in a reduction in rank and pay, and damage to a reputation.

You Can Avoid Serious DUI Penalties in Tampa

The most important thing you can do in the face of DUI charges in Tampa or anywhere in Florida is to involve an attorney. Exercise your right to legal counsel. Even if the odds seem stacked against you, and even if you think you "failed" a breath test or field sobriety tests, you may have been wrongly tested or the device could have been faulty. There are countless defenses available against DUI charges, and having a competent lawyer on your side to assert these can help you avoid a conviction and the serious penalties this can bring. Remember, there's always hope with a skilled lawyer in your corner.

Call (813) 321-7323 today to talk to our team about your charges and how you can avoid serious DUI penalties. We serve Tampa and the surrounding communities in Florida.

Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. Today: (813) 321-7323

Thomas & Paulk is experienced in defending DUI charges. We understand the penalties associated with this criminal offense are harsh and that a driver will need skilled representation to help navigate this difficult time. We provide the service and knowledge needed to obtain the best possible results in your DUI case.

Call Thomas & Paulk today for a free consultation at (813) 321-7323.

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DUI Defense in Florida

At Thomas & Paulk, one of our primary focuses is on the defense of DUI charges. In fact, we are recognized throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier DUI defense law firms. Our team is well-versed in this area of the law and has a wide-expanse of experience in helping our clients fight against such charges.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first offense or your third, you can count on our firm to protect your legal rights. Often, our defense starts with recounting with you how the police officer came to stop you in the first place and how he or she came to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol. If the stop was illegal, or the tests were improperly administered, we may be able to argue for the dismissal of that evidence in court, helping your chances of a dropped charge.

If you would like to learn more about how our team can help, contact us today.

  • If you're arrested for DUI, you only have 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing where you can fight to save your license.
  • A blood alcohol reading of 0.15% or more can warrant an aggravated DUI charge with harsher penalties.
  • Each year, Hillsborough County issues around 4,000 DUI citations. Out of these, more than 3,000 are found guilty.
  • Per Florida's zero-tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who tests positive for any measurable blood alcohol can be charged with DUI.