Florida DUI Defense Attorney Serving Clients in Orlando and Throughout the State

best DUI lawyer in Florida

A DUI conviction is quite serious.

It can result in the loss of your driver’s license, financial penalties, and even jail time.

When you are facing DUI charges in Florida, know that the state takes alcohol-related traffic offenses seriously.

A DUI conviction will have repercussions far beyond your sentence.

Even a first-time offender can face significant penalties.

At Skubiak & Rivas, P.A., we know that people make mistakes, and we also know that people are wrongly accused of DUIs in Florida.

An experienced criminal traffic lawyer in Florida can get started on your defense today. We have decades of experience handling DUI and other traffic cases.

Did you get a DUI in Florida?

Contact Skubiak & Rivas today for a free, no-obligation case review.

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What Is a DUI Under Florida Law?

When can a Florida driver face driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) charges? Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 316.193), defines driving under the influence as a situation in which a person is driving or is in control of a motor vehicle and one of the following is true:

  • The person is under the influence of alcohol, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance such that it impairs their normal faculties;
  • the person has a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more; or
  • The person has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more.

As you can see, police can charge you with a DUI even if you do not have a blood-alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit. Any behavior that demonstrates a driver’s impairment as a result of alcohol or drug use can result in DUI charges and, ultimately, a DUI conviction.

Penalties for a Florida DUI

The state of Florida takes DUIs very seriously, and there are substantial penalties, which can include the following:

  • First conviction: up to 6 months in jail and a fine of anywhere from $500 to $1,000; and
  • Second conviction: up to 9 months in jail. A fine of anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. And, the use of an ignition interlock device for at least one year (at the defendant’s expense);
  • Third conviction occurring within 10 years of prior conviction: third-degree felony offense with up to 5 years in prison. Up to 5 years probation and a fine of up to $5,000. Revocation of driver’s license, and the use of an ignition interlock device for at least two years (at the defendant’s expense);
  • Third conviction occurring more than 10 years after the prior conviction: up to 12 months in jail and fine of anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. Use of an ignition interlock device for at least two years (at the defendant’s expense); and
  • Fourth conviction (regardless of timetable): third-degree felony offense that can include up to 5 years in prison. Up to 5 years probation, a fine of up to $5,000, revocation of driver’s license. Use of an ignition interlock device for at least two years (at the defendant’s expense).

These penalties are for DUIs with no property damage and no bodily injury. When drunk driving results in property damage or bodily injury, the penalties are much more severe:

  • Damage to property: first-degree misdemeanor. Can result in up to 1 year in jail, 1 year of probation, and a fine of up to $1,000;
  • Serious bodily injury: third-degree felony. Can result in penalties of up to 5 years in prison, up to 5 years of probation, and a fine of up to $5,000;
  • Death of a human being or unborn child: DUI manslaughter. Can be either a second-degree felony or a first-degree felony depending upon the specific facts of the case. Second-degree felony can result in up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A first-degree felony can result in up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000).

What Is the Penalty for a First-Time DUI in Florida?

First-time DUI offenders typically face less serious consequences. However, the punishment for a first-time DUI depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.

For a person convicted of DUI with a BAC of .08% or higher with no property damage or bodily injury, the offender usually must pay a fine between $500 and $1,000.

Florida law requires judges to place all first-time DUI offenders on probation. Normally the probation will last between six months and one year. First-time offenders also must complete at least 50 hours of community service.

Underage DUI

A person under the age of 21 may not have a BAC higher than .02% while driving a vehicle. An underage DUI conviction will result in license suspension and other possible penalties.

First-time offenders face a license suspension of up to 6 months. Second-time offenders will lose their license for one year. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, your license will be suspended for 1 year. A second-time offender will lose their license for 18 months.

What If I Drive with a Suspended License? 

Florida imposes harsh penalties for drivers with underage DUI convictions who drive under a suspended license. 

For first-time offenders, penalties include:

  • A second-degree misdemeanor charge,
  • A fine of up to $500, and
  • Up to 60 days in jail. 

Second-time offenders face even harsher penalties. These include:

  • A first-degree misdemeanor charge,
  • Fines up to $1000, and 
  • A jail sentence up to 1 year. 

Driving with a suspended license carries serious penalties. If your license is suspended, contact a qualified Florida DUI attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options rather than risk facing further legal consequences.

What Happens If I Refuse to Take a Breath Test?

Florida, like other states, has implied-consent laws. As such, any motorists on the road give implied consent to a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol concentration test. The penalties for refusing to take a breath test or to submit to a blood test if police stop you for a DUI are severe:

  • First offense: misdemeanor charges and driver’s license suspension;
  • Second and subsequent offense: misdemeanor charges and 18-month suspension of your driver’s license.

Keep in mind that these penalties are not for a DUI conviction. They are merely for refusing to take a blood or breath test when a law enforcement officer requests one.

It is also important to note that such a refusal constitutes a misdemeanor offense in the state of Florida. This means refusing to submit to a blood or breath test will result in you having a criminal record (even if you were not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs).

Hardship License

A DUI conviction usually means your license will be suspended. However, under certain circumstances, a court may provide you with a "hardship license."

This license allows for certain limited types of travel, usually to and from work or school, or for medical appointments. Under Florida law, a person is usually eligible for a hardship license after a 30-day license suspension.

However, if you refused to perform a blood test, you most likely will not be eligible for a hardship license until after 90 days.

To qualify for a hardship license, you must meet any court requirements and pay an administrative fee, a reinstatement fee, and a license fee. You must also take a driving examination and show proof of automobile insurance.

Can I Fight a DUI Charge?

DUI charges are serious and carry heavy consequences. But you can fight a DUI charge or try to have it reduced to a lesser offense. Skilled criminal defense attorneys can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

For example, you may be able to challenge the evidence that you were intoxicated while driving the vehicle. Or if you were not properly breathalyzed or your blood or breath samples were mishandled, the tests for intoxication may not be admissible during trial

In some cases, you may also be able to plead to a lesser offense. Florida allows plea bargaining in DUI cases. However, in some cases, plea bargaining is prohibited, such as when:

  • The driver's BAC was .15% or more, or
  • The DUI caused property damage, bodily injuries, or death.

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to plead down to a lesser charge, known as a "wet reckless" charge. Wet reckless pleas carry much lower penalties than DUIs.

Courts are more likely to provide a wet reckless plea when:

  • The defendant has no prior DUI charges,
  • No accident or injury occurred, and
  • The defendant's BAC was at or close to .08%.

Although you may be eligible for a plea bargain, negotiating such a plea can be difficult. You should contact a qualified Florida DUI lawyer who can help negotiate your plea with the prosecutor.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My DUI Case?

Florida DUI lawyer

Many people who have been charged with DUIs wonder if it is necessary to hire a lawyer. The best DUI attorney in Florida can help to build a strong defense in your case and can bring decades of experience to the process.

The laws in Florida surrounding drunk driving and related penalties can be extremely complicated. It is important to have a dedicated advocate on your side to ensure that you present the best possible defense in your case.

Even in situations where building a winning defense strategy is more difficult, or aggressive Florida DUI lawyers may be able to have your charges reduced by negotiating with the prosecutor on your behalf. You do not want to face Florida DUI charges on your own. The consequences of a conviction could last a lifetime.

Seek Advice from the Best DUI Attorney in Florida

If you are facing DUI charges, you should know that you could be facing extremely serious penalties upon conviction. You should not have to handle your defense on your own when an aggressive Florida DUI defense attorney can help with your case. Contact Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. for more information about the criminal defense services we provide to clients in Florida.

Are breath tests required in Florida?

In Florida, drivers give implied consent for blood-alcohol and breath-alcohol concentration tests. If you refuse these tests the consequences can be severe.

Why should I hire a DUI lawyer?

A DUI lawyer can help reduce your charges and penalties. We have defended many DUI cases and seen great results. Contact us today about your DUI case for a free consultation.

What is a DUI in Florida?

If you are under the influence of a substance that impairs normal faculties, have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more, or have a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more, you may be charged with a DUI.