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Penalties for DUI in Tampa, Florida

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.

The Tampa DUI attorneys at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. 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.

Penalties for a DUI Conviction

Aggravating Factors That Increase Penalties

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

Aggravating factors include:

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.

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: Background checks and 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: While on DUI probation, you may be ordered not to consume alcohol, not to consume drugs, and to submit to tests.
  • Immigration: While a misdemeanor DUI generally won’t affect immigration, a felony DUI or a drug-related DUI can lead to deportation.
  • Child Custody: If you enter a child custody battle, a recent DUI conviction can tip the scales against you.
  • Professional Licenses: In some cases, a professional license will be cancelled or denied due to a recent DUI conviction.
  • Security Clearance: A DUI will come up on the background investigation, and it can lead to the denial of a security clearance.
  • Military Careers: Often, a military DUI results in a reduction in rank, a reduction in pay grade, and serious damage to reputation.

Additional Penalties for a DUI Conviction

First 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 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 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 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.

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.

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.