If you’ve never been in trouble with the law before, getting arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) can be a shocking experience. The experience may be even worse if you’re not a resident of Florida and are just visiting on vacation.
In Florida, a blood alcohol content of .08 or above leads to conviction, just as it does in other states. Both a breath test and a blood test are acceptable forms of proof for court.
First-time offenders can expect the following penalties if they’re convicted:
— A fine of up to $1,000. If your blood alcohol content is especially high (.15 or higher) or you have a minor in the vehicle when you’re arrested, the fine can double to $2,000.
— A mandatory 50 hours of community service or an additional fine of $10 per hour of community service required.
— Probation for a term of up to 1 year (including whatever period of time you were incarcerated).
— You can only be physically incarcerated for a maximum of six months (unless your blood alcohol content was .15 or higher or you had a minor in the vehicle, in which case you can be imprisoned for up to nine months).
— Your vehicle can be impounded for up to 10 days, which means that you have to pay the costs associated with that in order to retrieve your vehicle on top of any other fines.
The judge in Florida DUI cases does have considerable discretion for first-time offenders, especially when it comes to incarceration. If you can convince the judge that you are genuinely contrite, he or she may allow you to enter a residential alcohol and drug abuse treatment program instead of jail. Alternately, you may be allowed to serve minimal jail time, so that you don’t also risk losing your job.
A DUI arrest is definitely nothing to take lightly — especially when you aren’t even familiar with the legal system of the state. Anyone arrested for a DUI while on vacation would be wise to contact a criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. For more information on how our firm can help you, please visit our web pages on the topic..