man with hands cuffed behind his backOne out of every four drunk driving arrests in Florida involves repeat offenders. Unfortunately, a prior DUI conviction can be grounds for enhanced penalties, including mandatory jail or prison time. If this isn't the first time you've been in front of a judge for a criminal offense, you'll need a Florida DUI defense attorney who can fight to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed.

What Counts as a Previous DUI?

Under Florida law, any conviction for drunk driving could qualify as a prior offense and lead to enhanced sentencing. For example, you could be charged with a repeat offense if you have a previous DUI conviction:

  • In Florida. The prosecution may prove a previous DUI using records from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
  • In another state. An out-of-state DUI or DWI may count as a previous offense, but so can a charge of driving with an unlawful blood or breath alcohol level (DUBAL) or other alcohol- or drug-related traffic crimes.
  • For boating under the influence. A previous boating under the influence (BUI) conviction can be used to enhance jail time and fines but will usually not lead to extended driver's license suspension.

Potential Consequences of a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th DUI Offense in Florida

Penalties for any DUI other than the first depend on the nature of the offense and how much time has passed since the prior conviction. The less time that has passed since your previous DUI, the harsher the penalties you face.

In Florida, drunk driving consequences vary by whether it is your:

  • 2nd DUI conviction five years or more after the last offense. Even if five years have passed since your first conviction, you could spend up to nine months in jail and one year's suspension of your license. If you serve no jail time, you face up to 12 months of probation that includes mandatory placement of an ignition interlock device at your expense.
  • 2nd DUI conviction within five years. A second DUI in five years incurs a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail, a maximum of up to 9 months imprisonment, and license suspension for five years. Your vehicle will be impounded or immobilized for a minimum of 30 days, and you may be ordered to pay a fine between $1,000 to $2,000.
  • 3rd DUI conviction ten years or more after the last offense. This first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine between $1,000 to $2,500, and an ignition interlock device for two years after driving privileges are restored.
  • 3rd DUI conviction within ten years of the last offense. This third-degree felony includes penalties of a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail and a maximum of five years in prison, a minimum 10-year license suspension, an ignition interlock device for two years after driving privileges are restored, a fine of not less than $2,000 or more than $5,000, and vehicle impoundment for 90 days
  • 4th DUI conviction. A fourth or subsequent violation of Florida drunk driving laws is a third-degree felony regardless of the time that has passed between offenses. A conviction could result in up to five years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines, a DUI substance abuse course, a psychosocial evaluation with substance abuse treatment, and license revocation for ten years. Your driver's license can also be permanently revoked at this point, affecting your ability to earn a living and independence for the rest of your life.

Will I Go to Prison for Multiple DUI Offenses?

It's up to the prosecutor in your case to locate and prove prior convictions. These are easier than ever to track down, as prosecutors have access to national databases that show driving records from other states and even arrests outside the public record.

The key to avoiding enhanced penalties is to question the evidence. Depending on the details of your case, your attorney could help you avoid conviction or downgrade a felony DUI into a misdemeanor instead of a felony. You could also move for post-conviction relief, which allows you to nullify a previous DUI conviction and reduce the current charges.

Speak to an Experienced Florida Defense DUI Attorney Today

Board-certified criminal trial attorney Robert David Malove offers clients free consultations and affordable payment plans, allowing you to learn about your options at no cost. Contact us online or call us today at 954-861-0384 for a free assessment of your case.

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