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Penalties for a First DUI

If you were arrested for a first DUI then it is important to remember that an arrest does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted of DUI. In fact, throughout Florida many DUI offenses are reduced to less serious charges such as reckless driving especially if the person has no prior record.

The reduction of charges is particularly likely for a first time offender with no other criminal record. For an individual who is not guilty of the DUI, the best result is getting the charges completely dropped.

Call the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case. We fight every DUI case with the goal of getting the best possible result. In many cases, the goal is getting the charges dropped or at least reduced to the less serious charge of reckless driving. It is our job to fight for the best possible result and we take that responsibility very seriously.

Attorneys Fighting a First DUI Charge in Tampa, FL

If you have been charged with a first DUI in Florida, we have created this website to provide you with information to make an informed decision about fighting the drunk driving charges. Understanding how the process works may give you the motivation to fight the charges.

Many of these cases throughout the Tampa Bay area are reduced so that the driver can avoid a DUI conviction. Avoiding the DUI conviction can save you thousands of dollars over the next three to five years from both the direct consequences of the plea and the indirect consequences of the plea including a dramatic increase in your insurance premiums.

Is a First DUI a Second Degree Misdemeanor?

Sometime you will see a first DUI classified as a "misdemeanor of the second degree." A first offense of driving under the influence, however, is not explicitly referred to as a second degree misdemeanor in the Florida Statutes.

Also, the penalties assessed for a first offense of driving under the influence do not match the penalties associated with a second degree misdemeanor. See ss. 775.082 and 775.083, F.S., and s. 316.193, F.S. Unlike other types of misdemeanors, 316.656, F.S., prohibits a court from withholding adjudication of guilt or imposition of sentence for any driving under the influence violation.

Driver's License Suspension after a First DUI

Before you even go to court certain administrative consequences may occur immediately after the arrest. In most cases, the officer will take your driver's license and hand you a citation that acts as your "notice of suspension."

Read the notice carefully. It may also act as your temporary 10 day permit to drive. Unless you take action to stop the administrative consequences then:

  • If you refused the chemical test then your Florida driver’s license will be suspended for 12 months with a 90 day hard suspension.
  • If you took the breath test and blew over .08 then your Florida driver’s license will be suspended for 6 months with a 30 day hard suspension.
  • For a DUI arrest that occurs after July 1, 2013 with no priors (meaning no prior DUI convictions or administrative suspensions) you might be able to avoid the hard suspension entirely by waiving your right to a review hearing within the first 10 days after the arrest. If you are eligible for immediate reinstatement you must show proof of enrollment in DUI school and comply with the Florida real ID act. The downside is you will not be able to contest the administrative suspension which comes with a lifetime of negative consequences.

If you hire an attorney within the first 10 days after the arrest the attorney can help you decide whether you should request a formal review hearing or a review of eligibility for immediate reinstatement.

Unless you avoid a DUI conviction, the Court must impose the following minimum mandatory punishments if you enter a plea of guilty or no contest to a first DUI in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL:

  • Incarceration (Jail Time): For a first DUI, the court can impose a jail sentence of up to six (6) months in the Hillsborough County Jail. Certain circumstances result in an enhanced penalty that increases the statutory maximum amount of jail time to nine (9) months in jail for a first DUI if under the following circumstances:
    • if the blood or breath alcohol reading (often called BAL or BAC) is 0.15 or higher; or
    • if a minor was in the vehicle
  • Period of Probation: Up to 12 (twelve) months of probation (but in no event may the total period of incarceration and probation exceed twelve months total);
  • Community Service Hours: Required minimum of 50 hours of community service (although the judge may permit the defendant to "buy out" any number of hours at a rate of $10 per hour);
  • Fine: Minimum fine of $500 but up to $1,000 (with a blood alcohol reading of .15 or higher or if a minor was in the vehicle, then the minimum fine is $1,000 but up to $2,000. For those individuals that are unable to pay the fines because of financial circumstances, the Court may allow the individual to perform community service hours for $10 credit per hour);
  • Period of Florida Driver's License Revocation: At least a six (6) month suspension with a maximum suspension of up to twelve (12) months;
  • Hardship Driving Permit: Business Purposes Only or Employment Purposes Only Reinstatement: After the driver has completed DUI school, he may apply for a possible hardship reinstatement for business purposes or employment purposes only;
  • immobilization or Impoundment of Vehicle: The Judge is required to impose a ten (10) days of vehicle immobilization requirement which cannot be served at the same time as the jail term. The court can grant exception if the impoundment presents a hardship to a family member that has no other means of transportation or if the vehicle is used only by an employee of the defendant or if the vehicle is owed by the defendant's business;
  • DUI School: The judge must impose a requirement that the driver complete either Level I DUI School (twelve (12) hour class or Level II DUI School that included a drug and alcohol abuse evaluation and completion of any any recommended follow up treatment; and
  • Ignition Interlock Device: The judge is not required to impose an ignition interlock device be installed unless the driver's blood alcohol reading was .15 or higher or a minor was in the vehicle in which case the court is required to impose this requirement for six (6) months.

If you are facing a first DUI in Florida, contact an experienced DUI lawyer to discuss your case. Call the Sammis Law Firm for a free consultation in the office or over the phone. Call 813-250-0500 today. Find out what you need to do today to protect yourself against this serious allegation.

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Stipulations to a Blood Alcohol Level of Less Than .015

If you blew over a .015 on the breath test then certain enhanced penalties apply. In some cases, the prosecutor may offer to stipulate to a lower BAC level in order to resolve the case without a trial. The form varies from courtroom to courtroom, but the language below comes from a form used in one courtroom in Tampa.


THIS CAUSE having come before the Court on _______________ regarding DUI citation number ________ upon the stipulation of the State of Florida and the Defendant, and the Court having ratified the stipulation of the parties, it is


1. The Court hereby finds that the Defendant's blood alcohol level at the time of arrest was less than .15%.

2. Because the Defendant's blood alcohol level was less than .15% at the time of the arrest, the Court will not impose the requirement that the Defendant install the ignition interlock device on the Defendant's motor vehicle.

DONE AND ORDERED in Tampa, Florida, this ____ day of __________, 2017.

The Honorable ________________


Finding an Attorney to Fight a First DUI Case

We represent clients arrested for a wide variety of different types of DUI offenses. We provide free consultations either in the office or over the phone. Call us for a case in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County or any of the surrounding Tampa Bay areas to discuss the potential penalties that might apply in your case and the best way to fight those charges.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

Article last updated by on Thursday, December 11, 2014.