Blog Post

Can You Go to Jail for a DUI in FL?

Can You Go to Jail for a DUI in FL?

November 3, 2021 / DUI

Can you go to jail for driving under the influence (DUI) in FL? The short answer is yes, but much depends on the circumstances. If you’re convicted enough times for DUI in a short enough time frame, or you injure or kill someone in an accident, your chances of jail time increase. Many of those charged with driving under the influence (DUI) don’t serve jail time, but you need to know how the criminal justice system works and the ways to avoid incarceration to make this happen.

You may have many effective defenses against a DUI charge without knowing it. Panella Law Firm can investigate your case and find issues that may result in charges being dismissed or an outcome that avoids jail time. Call Panella Law Firm now at 407-233-1822 to discuss your case.

Can you go to jail for a first DUI? The law says yes, but again, much depends on the circumstances such as whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony, the county where the arrest took place, your breath or blood alcohol level (BAC), whether anyone was hurt, how strong the State’s evidence is, whether you have done things to show remorse and rehabilitation, etc. Other than the mandatory minimum sentences, a judge has discretion on whether or not to sentence you to jail and for how long (up to the maximum time allowed by statute). A judge, with the guidance of a skilled Drug case Lawyer, may decide that your time in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program can be counted toward your prison sentence, or decide that jail is otherwise not appropriate in your case.

Jail Time for a DUI in FL Can Depend on the Number of Prior Convictions

It doesn’t matter how many times you’re arrested — the issue is how many times you were convicted.

Possible imprisonment for Florida DUI includes:

  • First conviction: Imprisonment for up to six months. If your blood alcohol level (BAL) was 0.15 or more or a minor was in the vehicle, jail time can be up to nine months.
  • Second conviction: Imprisonment for not more than nine months. If your BAL was 0.15 or more or a minor was in the vehicle, imprisonment can be up to 12 months. If the second conviction is within five years of the first, there’s mandatory minimum imprisonment of at least ten days, and at least two of them must be consecutive.
  • Third conviction: If within ten years of the second conviction, the mandatory imprisonment is for at least 30 days, at least two of them served consecutively.
  • Fourth or subsequent conviction: Imprisonment for up to five years or a sentence provided for by state statute for a habitual or violent offende.

An important reason to defend criminal charges and prevent a conviction is that the consequences of later convictions can be much harsher.

Can You Go to Jail for a DUI in FL? The More Serious the Facts, the More Likely Jail Time Becomes.

Property damage, serious injuries, and death can make jail time much longer.

Florida’s DUI statute spells out facts other than the number of prior convictions that can lengthen imprisonment.  If you’re convicted of a DUI and you . . .

  • Damage someone else’s property, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor that can result in a jail sentence of up to a year.
  • Cause a serious bodily injury (a physical condition with a substantial risk of death, you cause severe disfigurement or a protracted loss or impairment of an organ or part of the body), it’s a third-degree felony where the prison term can’t exceed five years.
  • Cause the death of any person or unborn child you commit DUI manslaughter, a second-degree felony possibly resulting in 15 years in prison. If you also commit a hit-and-run (you knew or should have known the crash happened and failed to give information or help as required by law), it’s a first-degree felony with prison time up to 30 years.

These kinds of cases could lead to your spending years in jail. The more complex and serious the allegations, the more you need a DUI defense attorney
to protect you and your future.

A Diversion Program Could Keep You Out of Jail

One way to avoid jail time is to be admitted to a pretrial diversion program. We would work with the prosecutor and ask the judge in your case to allow you to go this route instead of a going to trial. The judge would need to see this as an appropriate resolution given the facts of your case.

Pretrial diversion is like probation. If you’re accepted, there may be many conditions, including:

  • DUI School
  • Victim Impact Class
  • Your vehicle would be impounded or an ignition interlock device would be installed
  • Random drug and alcohol tests
  • Community service.

There are also fees you’d need to pay.

Can You Go to Jail for a DUI? Yes. How Would That Impact Your Life?

Time in jail away from family, friends, and work is just the beginning.

There are many reasons to put up a strong defense when you face DUI charges, and one them is to avoid jail time. The costs of imprisonment aren’t just the loss of freedom and having to endure confinement in a potentially dangerous jail or prison — they include other losses you may suffer.

  • Can you take that time off from work and keep your job?
  • If not, how do you explain why you lost it to potential employers?
  • What do you say when you’re asked about a criminal record on a job application?
  • Can you afford the lost income from your time while incarcerated plus being unemployed afterward?
  • What impact would time in prison have on your marriage, family life, or standing in your community?
  • If you’re involved in a child custody dispute and need to demonstrate that it’s in your child’s best interests for you to have custody, despite your criminal record and jail time, it may be wise to seek guidance from Orlando child custody lawyers. They can help articulate the changes you’ve made and why you are now positioned to provide a stable and nurturing environment for your child.

If you’re arrested for DUI, you need to know your rights and the best options for defending yourself. Police and prosecutors don’t care about you or your life. They want easy convictions. The law and criminal justice system are too complex for you to go it alone, which is why seeking the guidance of an experienced criminal defense law firm is crucial.

Hire Michael Panella, a DUI Defense Lawyer You Can Trust

Might you spend jail time for a DUI in FL? Yes, but just because you’re arrested doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted or serve time in prison. The prosecution has the burden of proof. If you have the right DUI lawyer, it may mean the difference between serving time or not.

How your case is resolved can affect you the rest of your life. The earlier we get involved in your case, the faster we will start investigating your arrest. Our defense strategy may result in charges being dismissed or a plea bargain agreement that keeps you out of jail. Call the Panella Law Firm at 407-233-1822 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation.

Attorney Mike Panella

For Mike Panella, the concept of zealous advocacy developed at an early age – fueled by what he perceived to be an unjust resolution in a personal family legal matter. Mr. Panella would later attribute his passion to defend the rights of those who stand accused to those inequities in the legal system he observed, and considered unjust. Before opening Panella Law Firm, Mr. Panella served as an Assistant Public Defender for Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office and worked hundreds of cases in both Brevard and Seminole Counties. Mr. Panella was undefeated at trial. [ Attorney Bio ]

Recent Posts


Court TV Law

NY Times

USA Today



Orlando Sentinel