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Do not underestimate the consequences of a first-time DUI

Drunk driving charges are serious criminal charges, yet some drivers underestimate the penalties that a DUI charge can bring, even for a first-time offender. If you are facing a DUI for the first time, it is important to react appropriately by securing defense help as soon as possible. A guilty plea may not be the best choice, and a conviction is never your only option.

Florida has some of the steepest penalties for drunk driving in the country, and even a first offense will result in consequences that can affect many areas of life for years to come. Fortunately, there is something you can do to shield yourself and work to protect your interests.

What are the penalties for a first DUI conviction in Florida?

A person found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent or higher while driving could face arrest and criminal charges. Penalties for a first conviction for driving under the influence include the following:

  • Fines ranging up to $1,000
  • Up to six months in jail
  • 180 days up to one year of driver's license revocation

If a driver's BAC was higher than .14 percent at the time, he or she was driving a commercial vehicle, a minor child was in the car or the driver refused to submit to a breath test, penalties can be more severe. Any of these factors can increase the severity of a conviction.

Defending yourself against a drunk driving charge

If you are facing drunk driving charges for the first time, you may be wondering what you should do next. Florida drivers have a very limited window of time - 10 days - to request an administrative hearing after an arrest in order to keep their right to drive. If you need to drive for work, school or the sake of your children, you must take immediate action or risk losing your license.

You may believe you should just plead guilty, but, in reality, there are often ways to secure lesser charges or mitigate penalties. An evaluation will determine if there was a violation of your personal rights or other problems with the evidence against you, which could be grounds for a reduction or complete dismissal of all charges. Do not make assumptions about the severity of your situation, but, instead, seek a full understanding of your rights and options.

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