Does a Florida DUI conviction always lead to jail time?

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2022 | DUI Defense

Florida police officers out on patrol are constantly on the lookout for signs of impaired drivers. Those who get behind the wheel after drinking cause a disproportionate number of car crashes, which is one of the incentives for the police to watch for signs of intoxication when they monitor traffic and screen those involved in a crash for alcohol or drug abuse. It is also common for those accused of a DUI to plead guilty, which helps a police department’s solve and conviction rates.

Every DUI charge is a reflection of unique circumstances. From your age, license type and personal driving record to whether it was a technical infraction or related to a crash, the details of the situation largely influenced what consequences you potentially face. The biggest concern many people have when accused of an impaired driving offense is that they will end up in jail.

Is incarceration inevitable when accused of an impaired driving offense?

What Florida law permits

The specific penalties you face will be a reflection of your circumstances and the judge’s feelings related to your case. However, a judge must sentence you in accordance with state law. For a first-time DUI where no one gets hurt, the potential jail sentence could be up to six months. In special situations, like someone driving with a young child in the vehicle, the jail time could increase to up to nine months.

The penalties increase with each subsequent DUI charge as well. A second drunk driving arrest might mean nine months in jail or up to a full year with aggravating factors. A third or subsequent impaired driving charge within 10 years of the first could result in a mandatory jail sentence of at least 30 days or up to five years.

Incarceration is not the only concern

It is common for those accused of impaired driving to focus so much on the risk of jail time that they don’t properly address other concerns. The state can also suspend your driver’s license, impose thousands of dollars in fines and force you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. The criminal record that you have after a conviction will affect everything from how much you pay for car insurance to what jobs you can secure after your arrest.

For many adults, fighting back against a pending DUI will be a much better option than pleading guilty and risking jail time and other penalties. Educating yourself about the potential consequences can help you better handle your Florida DUI charges.