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Mitigating DUI Penalties: Factors That Influence Sentencing

Mitigating DUI Penalties: Factors That Influence Sentencing

November 28, 2023 / DUI

It’s easy to end up with DUI charges in Florida. You can even be charged with DUI when you haven’t been driving. Whatever the reason behind your charges, one thing is clear — without an experienced Florida DUI lawyer for penalty mitigation in your case, you face serious legal consequences. 

A DUI conviction can bring penalties that include significant fines and prison time. Having DUI charges on record can also impact other areas of your life, like your ability to get a job or maintain custody of your children. Fortunately, a skilled DUI defense lawyer in Florida knows how to craft an argument designed to reduce the possible consequences of a DUI conviction as much as possible. 

How Florida Defines DUI

DUI, or driving under the influence, is often thought of as drinking and driving. While it’s true that drunk driving falls under the DUI umbrella, the legal definition of DUI in Florida is a bit more complicated. 

DUI also includes the use of any mind-altering substances, whether they’re illegal or not. Florida drivers can be charged with DUI after using marijuana, drugs like heroin or meth, or even taking a prescribed medication. 

Florida’s laws around DUI don’t favor Florida drivers. You can be charged with DUI if you are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. This doesn’t necessarily mean while driving. You can be charged with DUI just for sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the car’s ignition. Florida’s broad DUI laws make it clear that when you’re charged with driving under the influence, you need to contact a defense attorney for DUI penalties as soon as possible.

Common DUI Penalties in Florida

Florida doles out DUI penalties based on a person’s number of prior convictions. The possible charges you face if you’re convicted of a DUI depend on your previous record and any other factors that might impact the outcome. For example, if you were involved in an accident that left someone injured or dead, you may face additional civil or criminal penalties in relation to the accident and your DUI charges. 

For a first DUI conviction, penalties include a fine of $500 to $1,000 and up to six months’ jail time. With a second DUI conviction, fines increase to $1,000 to $2,000, and jail time increases to up to nine months. A second DUI conviction usually also comes with an order to install an ignition interlock device, which prevents a vehicle from starting unless the driver can pass a breathalyzer test. Third and subsequent DUIs are usually considered felonies. Fines can reach up to $5,000, and jail time can go as high as five years. 

Factors That Influence Florida DUI Penalties

One of the biggest factors that impact the outcome of your Florida DUI case is your record. This is why it’s so important to always hire a DUI defense lawyer and fight to have your charges dropped. 

For a first-conviction DUI, the judge will take circumstantial factors into account. Depending on whether they’re feeling lenient or want to make an example of you, you might get off with as little as probation and a fine, or you might be sentenced to a six-month jail sentence. Probation might not sound too bad, but if you end up in trouble for a DUI again later down the road, already having a DUI conviction on record can have a serious impact on the outcome. 

Two other factors automatically increase the penalties in a Florida DUI case. These include if there was a minor in the vehicle and if the driver’s blood alcohol level was over 0.15. The legal BAC level is 0.08. However, you can be charged with DUI for a lower BAC if a police officer decides you’ve failed the field sobriety test. 

Finally, if you were charged with DUI in relation to an accident, you might find yourself facing felony charges even if it was your first DUI offense. In particular, accidents that result in death or serious bodily injury usually result in felony charges, which will significantly increase the possible prison time you face. 

Why Your Florida DUI Law Firm Matters

The Florida DUI law firm you choose to represent your case is one of the most important choices you can make. You can’t change the circumstances of your charges or evidence against you. However, picking a skilled Florida DUI defense attorney is the one factor you can control, and the right lawyer can make a life-altering difference to your case’s outcome. 

When choosing a DUI lawyer for penalties mitigation, it’s a good idea to find a lawyer who can demonstrate success in DUI defense strategy. Before attending consultations, you can check online to see a firm’s case results and client testimonials for past DUI cases. 

Strategies for Mitigating DUI Penalties

An experienced defense attorney for DUI penalties is well-versed in the different possible strategies that can be used to reduce your sentence or have your case thrown out entirely. Strategies a DUI defense lawyer in Florida might use include: 

  • Questioning the legality of the police stop
  • Questioning whether police followed protocols
  • Ensuring sobriety and blood testing were conducted properly
  • Arguing that your driving wasn’t impaired
  • Arguing that you weren’t under the influence.

A good DUI defense strategy should be tailored to the unique circumstances of your arrest. You can attend a consultation with a Florida DUI lawyer to hear more about how an attorney would build an argument for your case. 

Consult a Florida DUI Defense Attorney Today

DUI charges in Florida can bring life-altering consequences. If you’ve been convicted of a DUI in Florida, Panella Law Firm has the track record you want on your side. Attorney Michael Panella is an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney with a long history of successfully defending clients in even the most difficult cases. 

Call Panella Law Firm today at 407-233-1822 to schedule a consultation with a skilled Florida DUI defense attorney.

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 ]

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