There’s firsts for everything, but not everyone wants to experience their first DUI arrest. If you happen to see flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror and you know that you may be teetering above the legal limit, try not to panic. Navigating through your first DUI isn’t going to be easy, but it isn’t the end of the world. You’ll need a level head and the handful of practical steps to know what to do next.
Here’s a simple guide as to what to do if you’re in that hot seat, brought to you by the team here at Finebloom & Haenel who are seasoned DUI lawyers right here in Tampa, Florida.
The Arrest Through Sentencing – What to Expect
- The Arrest – When you were arrested you probably had a chemical BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) test. In Florida having a BAC level above .08% will result in a suspension of at least 6 months. That doesn’t mean you should refuse the test though; a refusal comes with a yearlong suspension.
- Find a Lawyer – Start looking for a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. If you don’t already have a lawyer, pick up the phone and contact us. The clock starts ticking from the moment you get arrested and if you want to file an appeal to the suspension for driving over the limit or refusing a blood/chemical test you only have 10 days. It doesn’t matter if you are guilty or innocent, you will still need a lawyer. This person will be your advocate with the court and your guide through the DUI process. An experienced lawyer will fight your conviction, negotiate your charges and secure the least punishment possible. Guilty or not, call us for the representation you need.
- Find a Reputable Bail Bond Company – Now that you’ve got a lawyer, it’s time to think about getting out of jail so you can return to work and prepare for your DUI defense. Most reputable bail bond companies will ask for 5-15% non-refundable deposit and collateral to cover the remaining amount.
- Request a DMV Hearing to Avoid Suspension – Your license was probably suspended immediately at the time of your arrest, but that doesn’t mean you are doomed to a lifetime without a license. You can appeal the suspension with a DMV hearing.
- Head to Court – Many people find that court is the most intimidating part of the DUI process. If you haven’t been to court before you have no idea what to expect or what will happen. Luckily you will have your attorney by your side. They will use the facts as well as any mitigating circumstances (things that may lessen the severity of your charges) to minimize the consequences associated with your DUI, secure alternate sentencing, negotiate and sometimes even get the charges dropped.
Completing Your Punishment
Best case scenario, the charges will be dropped. But that isn’t always a possibility. Let’s take a quick look at the potential outcomes from your court experience. Sentencing varies based on the charges, number of offenses and circumstances involved. Jail time, fines, mandatory alcohol treatment or education, license suspension or any combination of the above are common consequences of a DUI.
- Fulfill Treatment/Education Requirements – If you are required to complete alcohol training or education, enroll as soon as possible. You may be required to complete your courses before you are able to get your driver’s license restored.
- Request a Hardship License – You may be able to qualify for a Florida hardship license enabling you to get your license back after a DUI suspension sooner. You can file a request for a hardship license to the Administrative Reviews Office of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
- Avoid Future DUIs – A DUI might not be the end of the world, but it is a lot of hassle and expense. Save yourself the trouble in the future by avoiding the risk. Don’t drive after drinking and make a plan for getting home before you head to the bar or a party.
What tips do you have for facing a first time DUI? What part of the DUI process do you find most intimidating?