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If you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the consequences can be severe; you may lose your driver’s license, pay heavy fines, have your insurance premium raised, have your vehicle impounded, and even receive a jail sentence. DUI convictions remain on your permanent criminal record and as a result, may interfere with your livelihood, causing you to lose your job or hinder future employment opportunities. Those convicted of DUI are not entitled to a “withhold adjudication” and Florida law expressly prohibits the sealing or expunging of a DUI conviction.

Under Florida law, driving under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances is proved by the impairment of normal faculties or blood or breath alcohol (BAC) of .08% or higher. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven. Enhanced penalties apply when the convicted driver had a blood alcohol of .15% or higher, was in a traffic accident that resulted in injury or property damage, or had a passenger in the car who was under the age of 18.


All drivers who are arrested for DUI, including those who are arrested for refusing a breath test, face an immediate suspension of their license. Generally, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“the department”) will administratively suspend, for six months, the license of a motorist who’s arrested for driving with a BAC of .08% or more. Drivers who refuse to submit to chemical testing in violation of Florida’s “implied consent” laws face an administrative suspension of one year. This suspension is automatic and will become official unless a valid appeal is submitted within ten days of the arrest.

Under F.S. 322.2615 the driver may request a formal or informal review of the suspension by the department within 10 days after the issuance of the notice of suspension or may request a review of eligibility for a restricted driving privilege under F.S. 322.271(7). If the appeal is not filed before the end of the 10-day period, you will lose your driving privileges without further review. Even if you were unlawfully arrested, your license will be suspended.

It should be noted that the decision of the department and any written statement submitted by a person requesting department review may not be admitted against him or her in any such trial for DUI. The department shall invalidate a suspension for driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level if the suspended person is found not guilty at trial for DUI.

A person whose license is suspended for DUI can often get a “hardship” license, which allows one to take care of their necessities, e.g., driving only to and from work, school church, and medical appointments. A driver whose license is suspended for having a BAC of .08% or more is generally eligible for a hardship license after completing 30 days of the suspension. On the other hand, drivers with refusal suspensions won’t be eligible for a hardship license for 90 days. There is no hardship reinstatement for two or more refusals.


For a first-time DUI, there is no mandatory minimum jail sentence. The maximum possible jail sentence for a first offense DUI depends on the facts of the case. For a standard DUI, six months in jail is the maximum, however, where the BAC was .15% or more, then nine months becomes the maximum. If the motorist was involved in an accident involving property damage or personal injury, the defendant is subject to up to one year in jail. However, if there was an accident involving “serious bodily injury,” the defendant becomes subject to up to five years in prison. It should be noted that the sentencing judge has the discretion to substitute mandatory jail sentences for time served in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program toward the term imprisonment on a day-for-day basis.

Florida statutes requires the sentencing judge to place all DUI first-time offenders on probation. Typically, the time on probation and any time in jail can’t exceed one year. As a condition of probation, the judge must order all first-time DUI offenders to perform at least 50 hours of community service. A first offense carries a minimum driver’s license suspension of six months and a maximum of one year.

A first offense with bodily injury carries a minimum three-year revocation. Drivers are also subject to having their car impounded or immobilized for ten days. Those ten days can’t overlap with any time the driver spends in jail for the DUI conviction. Judges are not required to order ignition interlock devices for first offense DUIs, however, where the BAC is .08% or greater, judges have discretion to order an ignition interlock device for six months or more. The device is mandatory for six months where the driver had a BAC of .15% or more or had a passenger who was under the age of 18.


For a second conviction, imprisonment shall not be for more than nine months. If the BAC was .15% or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, imprisonment shall not be more than 12 months. If a second conviction was within five years of a prior conviction, Florida law requires a mandatory jail sentence of at least ten days, with the proviso that it may be substituted for time in a residential treatment program.

If the second DUI arrest is more than five years after the first DUI conviction, and if you either refused a blood or breath test or else registered a BAC below .15% and had no car crash, then you face a maximum of nine months in jail. There is no minimum jail time. If, however, you had a BAC of .15% or higher or were driving with a minor in the vehicle, the maximum time is up to 12 months in jail.

A second offense within five years from a prior conviction also carries with it a minimum driver’s license revocation of five years, however, one may be eligible for a hardship license after one year. If the second arrest is more than five years after the first DUI conviction, a suspension will be for a minimum of six months.

An ignition interlock is required for a minimum of one year for a BAC below .15% and a minimum of two years at .15% or higher. All of the defendant’s vehicles will also be subjected to impoundment or immobilization for 30 days for a second DUI conviction within five years, unless the family of someone convicted of a DUI offense has no other transportation. For a second or subsequent DUI conviction, there is no minimum amount of community service required and it is left to the judge’s discretion.


If a third conviction is within 10 years of a prior conviction, there is a mandatory jail sentence of at least 30 days.If the third conviction is more than 10 years from a prior conviction, there is no mandatory jail sentence and imprisonment may not be for more than 12 months.

If the third offense is within 10 years of the second conviction, there is a minimum 10 year license revocation. One may be eligible for a hardship license after two years. A third conviction within 10 years also requires the impoundment or immobilization of the driver’s vehicle(s) for 90 days, unless the family of the defendant has no other transportation. There is also a minimum of two years using an ignition interlock system.

Any person convicted of a third DUI within 10 years of a prior conviction or a fourth or subsequent DUI commits a third degree felony and is subject to up to five years in prison.


Any person who causes property damage or personal injury to another while driving under the influence is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and is subject to up to one year in the county jail.

A motorist who causes serious bodily injury while driving under the influence is guilty of a third degree felony and is subject to up to five years’ imprisonment.


Ignition interlock devices attach to a car to ensure that the driver is not drinking while driving. Before the motor can be started, the driver must first give a breath sample by breathing into the device. The device prevents the car from being started if the results show that the driver has alcohol on his/her breath.


DUI school is mandatory for every DUI offense. DUI School is made up of classrooms and referral treatment. In the 12-hour level one class, one is taught how alcohol affects driving and how to be more responsible in the future. All first offenders are sent to level one class. The 21-hour level two class is reserved for repeat offenders and those convicted of DUI manslaughter or DUI with serious bodily injury.

Failing to complete DUI school or any recommended follow-up treatment will result in a hold being placed on the offender’s driver’s license record. He or she will not be able to reinstate his/her license if these matters are not completed and properly reported to the state authorities.

Our law firm understands the anxiety and fear one feels after being arrested for drunk driving, and will diligently represent you to ensure the best possible resolution for your case. We have a thorough understanding of sobriety tests and law enforcement protocol which can be part of an effective and comprehensive defense against the DUI charges you face. During our initial consultation with you, we will determine if there was police error, field sobriety test errors, inaccuracies, failure to follow proper protocol or administrative errors which may prove your innocence or lead to the dismissal of charges by the prosecution or perhaps reducing the charge to reckless driving.

Mr. Eisenberg is one of only a handful of criminal defense attorneys in all of Sarasota County who has been recognized by the Florida Bar as a Board Certified Criminal Trial Expert.

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1751 Mound Street, Suite #205, Sarasota, FL 34236
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