If you've landed on this page, you're likely wondering what to do because you've just got your first DUI in Fort Lauderdale. Jail time is a possibility if you’re convicted of a DUI, even if you’ve never been charged with an offense in the past. Since jail time is ordered at the court’s discretion, it’s vital that you have an experienced DUI defense attorney who knows how to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed.
Below, our experienced DUI lawyer with over 30 years in practice, details everything you need to know about getting your first DUI in Fort Lauderdale, from potential consequences to defenses, and more.
Potential Consequences of a First DUI in Fort Lauderdale
The court can impose a jail sentence of up to six months for a first DUI in Fort Lauderdale. While most drivers will not have to serve jail time for a first-offense DUI, the severity of the incident and the driver’s past behavior will weigh heavily in sentencing.
First-time DUI offenders could also face the following penalties:
- Fines. Offenders face a minimum fine of $500 and up to $2,000 depending on whether there were aggravating factors. If drivers are unable to pay the fines, the court may grant $10 credit per hour for performing community service.
- Inability to use your vehicle. The court must impose a mandatory immobilization period of ten days on your car that cannot coincide with a jail term. The court might grant an exception if a family member needs the vehicle for work and has no other means of transportation.
- DUI school. The judge is required to impose completion of either Level I or Level II DUI School, depending on the severity of the offense.
- Lost driving privileges. Your Florida driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year. However, a driver may apply for a hardship reinstatement (restricting travel to work or business) once DUI school is complete.
- Probation. A judge may order up to 12 months of probation or a combination of jail time and probation that adds up to 12 months.
- Community service. A first-time DUI requires a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service.
- Ignition interlock device. Ignition interlock devices must be installed and used for a minimum of six months in cases with aggravating circumstances, such as a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading of .15 or higher.
- Increased car insurance. A DUI conviction can raise car insurance rates by 50% or more for the next several years.
Factors That Make Jail Time for DUI More Likely
Your testimony and the facts of the case will ultimately determine the consequences of your DUI conviction. If your DUI caused a collision that involved serious injury or death, the court is more likely to impose harsher sentencing.
You may also be facing jail time if the case involves:
- Aggravating factors. Florida law allows the extension of a jail term to nine months for a first DUI if the offender caused property damage or injuries, had a BAC over .15 or had a child passenger in the vehicle.
- Probation violation. Your jail term may be extended if you were already on probation or violated the terms after the DUI offense.
- A repeat offense. Jail time is mandatory after a second DUI offense within five years of a prior conviction or a third DUI within ten years of a previous conviction.
How Can I Avoid First-Time DUI Penalties?
The best way to avoid jail time and other consequences of a DUI is to get the charges against you dropped. An experienced and skilled Fort Lauderdale DUI lawyer can question field sobriety test and breathalyzer results, as well as the police officer’s actions during your arrest, potentially leading to case dismissal and the ability to expunge your record.
If a conviction is likely under the circumstances, you might be able to reduce the charge from DUI to reckless driving. If your attorney negotiates a reckless driving charge and adjudication is withheld, you could be eligible to seal your criminal record. This could prevent your criminal history from impacting your personal and professional life.
Speak to Our Experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI Attorney as Soon as Possible!
Board-certified criminal trial attorney Robert David Malove offers affordable payment plans to clients and free consultation so you can learn your options at no cost. If you recently received your first DUI in Fort Lauderdale and are looking for experienced and proven representation in South Florida, contact us online or call us today at 954-861-0384 for a free assessment of your case.