First DUI 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 0.15 percent, injuries or property damaged during the incident and the refusal of a DUI test.
Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism
If you have been charged with a DUI and it is your first offense, you may qualify for the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) program.
This benefits of completing this program include:
- Having your DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving charge
- Not having to tell employers about your reckless driving charge
However, you do not qualify for this program if:
- You had a minor in your vehicle when you obtained your DUI
- You blew above a 0.20 blood alcohol content
- You caused an injury
- You caused property damage
- You have a reckless driving, a vehicular homicide, or a driving with a suspended license prior
- You have not been charged with a felony in the past 5 years
To complete this program, you will have to undergo the following:
- 60 hours of community service
- 1 year of probation
- 10 days of vehicle immobilization
- Attend a MADD Victim Panel
- Complete DUI School
- Maintain an ignition interlock device
If you are contemplating joining the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR) program, you should contact a DUI attorney first.
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 Tampa 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.
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.
Contact us as soon as possible to strengthen your defense!
Drunk driving cases may or many not require a formal trial. We discuss what most can expect in terms of the process and duration of their DUI case.
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 have the experience 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.
The important thing is that you act quickly. Criminal cases involving charges of drinking and driving are serious and they can move fast. You cannot afford to wait or ignore your charges. You need a legal professional on your side who truly understands what you're facing so that they can offer you experience counsel and sound advice. To learn more about how a lawyer like this can assist with your case, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Call our Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk today to schedule an initial consultation. This is a completely free, confidential appointment for you to tell us your side of the story.
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.