Florida is among the states with the most severe drunk driving laws in the country. This may be because Florida has many tourist destinations, and without these firm laws, matters could deteriorate quickly, placing residents and visitors in danger.
Whether you are a resident or a tourist, you would be wise to know the potential consequences of a drunk driving conviction, including jail, fines and loss of your license. You should also be aware that the court can enhance, or increase, those penalties if certain factors exist at the time of your arrest.
The penalties are already strict
A conviction for simple DUI can result in hundreds in fines, lengthy suspension of your driving privileges, community service, probation and, of course, the possibility that you will spend time behind bars. Your friends may tell you that your first offense will go lightly, and you may be fortunate to receive a lenient sentence. However, if any of the following elements or others are part of your DUI arrest, things may be difficult for you in court:
- You have a very high blood alcohol count. If your BAC is .15 or higher, your penalties may be more severe.
- You have a child in the vehicle while driving under the influence. One of the most egregious factors that lead to enhanced penalties is endangering a child, and the younger the child, the more severe the penalties may be.
- You caused an accident. If you damaged someone else’s property, you may face additional fines.
- You hurt someone. A DUI accident that resulted in the injury or death of someone else may lead to very serious criminal charges and harsh sentencing.
- You are already on probation or lost your license because of prior DUIs. You may risk the permanent revocation of your driving privileges.
- You have previous DUIs on your record. Every state’s lookback period is different, but Florida courts may look back as far as 10 years for a previous DUI before enhancing your sentence.
A single DUI can haunt you for the rest of your life, affecting the outcome of any subsequent encounters with the law. If you must also face any of these enhancements, you may find yourself in a situation where it is very difficult to get your life back on track. Seeking the guidance of a skilled legal professional is critical when your freedom and your future are on the line.