Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, and every other city and town in the state of Florida has the same laws regarding drinking and driving. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a very serious offense in Florida and many of the other 50 United States and the consequences for being convicted of this type of crime can be harsh. While many people worry about the immediate impacts a DUI conviction will have on their life, they often forget about the long term financial impacts.
DUI Penalties Overview in Florida
For individuals who are arrested, charged, and convicted of DUI in the state of Florida, they will face a number of consequences that will vary in severity depending on the details of their case as well as the number of previous DUI offenses they have on their record. Those who are first time offenders of DUI will generally face:
- 6 to 9 Months in Jail
- Fines Between $500 and $2,000
- License Suspension Between 180 Days and 1 Year
- Possibly Having to Use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
The penalties the individual will actually face will be based on the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop, arrest, and charge of DUI. For example, first time DUI offenders in the state of Florida where a minor was present in the vehicle or they registered a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level of .15 percent or higher, the individual will likely serve the full 9 month jail sentence as opposed to 6 months.
Immediate Financial Challenges of DUI
Individuals convicted of DUI often get wrapped up in the license suspension and possible jail time they may have to serve and do not necessarily think about the financial repercussions they will face as a result of their charge. While the fines and penalties passed down by the court as punishment is one piece of the financial puzzle, it is important to keep in mind all the other financial implications the process of being charged and convicted of DUI will impose upon the individual.
First, there are financial repercussions to being pulled over and arrested for suspected DUI. When an individual is taken into custody for this type of crime, the vehicle is usually towed to an impoundment yard and stored there until the individual is able to retrieve it. The towing, impoundment, and storage fees are usually not cheap. The only time this can be avoided is if the arresting officer allows the individual to contact a friend or family member to come pick up the vehicle instead of having it towed.
Once the individual has been arrested and booked into the jail, there are some circumstances where they will need to provide bail money in order to be released. Depending on the severity of the case and the number of prior DUI convictions the individual has, their bail could be anywhere between $500 and $50,000. Since not many individuals have this kind of expendable cash to pay their own bail, they will usually have to work with a bail bondsman or ask for a loan from family and friends to be released.
Finally, while waiting for the Florida DUI case to begin, the individual will likely look into hiring an attorney to represent them in court. Since the state of Florida does allow, in specific circumstances, the individual to arrange a plea bargain for a lesser charge of “wet reckless,” the individual will need an attorney to help arrange this type of deal. The cost of a DUI attorney will vary between firms and depending on the circumstances surrounding the case – individuals should expect to pay between $1,500 and $10,000.
Financial Repercussions after Conviction
Once the individual has gone to trial and been found guilty of Florida DUI, they will face another wave of financial repercussions that will often cause them long-lasting financial problems. First, they will be expected to pay fines and penalties as restitution for their crimes. As mentioned earlier, first time offenders in the state of Florida should expect to pay between $500 and $2,000, second time offenders between $1,000 and $4,000, and third time offenders between $2,000 and $5,000.
While the amount of the penalty will vary based on the number of previous offenses, it will also vary between states. Some states take Driving Under the Influence more seriously than others, which is why the financial penalties vary so greatly from one state to the next.
In addition to having to pay these fines and penalties for their convictions, individuals will also have to consider the changes that will occur to their auto insurance coverage. Since a DUI is a driving related crime, it will appear on the individual’s criminal record as well as their driving record, which will be reported to their car insurance company. Car insurance agencies in the state of Florida are relatively lenient compared to other states when it comes to raising rates based on a DUI conviction.
While the exact raise in rate will vary from one insurance provider to the next, individuals who have their car insurance based in Florida can expect just over a 60 percent increase on their monthly insurance rate, which averages out to be about an extra $135 a month. While this may seem like an exorbitant amount of money, it is important to keep in mind that this can vary between providers and, on average, is much less of an increase than some other states.
Avoiding the Financial Repercussions of DUI in Florida
When all is said and done, individuals can expect to pay upwards of $40,000 for a DUI conviction, when fines, penalties, lawyer’s fees, impoundment fees, and car insurance rate increases are all added together. What this figure does not include, however, is the loss of income an individual can suffer from having to serve jail time or losing the use of their vehicle. Avoiding having to pay these penalties and being financially strapped due to DUI is simple – do not drink and drive.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.