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If a Pensacola law enforcement officer arrested you or a loved one for driving under the influence (DUI), you might wonder what will happen. This is a time of great uncertainty for you and your family. You may wonder if you could go to jail, receive a license suspension, and consequently, lose your livelihood.  You know you need a tough defense attorney, but you might not know where to turn.

Our experienced and dedicated Pensacola DUI lawyers have a tremendous amount of experience successfully defending DUI charges. You can count on us at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon to use our extensive experience and resources to help you navigate this trying time.  

Why You Need a Pensacola, FL DUI Lawyer

Florida’s DUI law is complicated. You need to understand numerous issues so that you and your DUI lawyer in Pensacola can make the best decisions. Taking the State on without an experienced Florida DUI defense law firm may have dire consequences that haunt you for a long time to come. In Florida, a person may be found guilty of DUI if the person is under control of a vehicle and:

  • Their blood-alcohol content is at or greater than 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood;
  • Their breath-alcohol content measures 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 210 liters of breath; or
  • They were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs to the extent that it impaired their normal faculties.

The prosecution must prove each of these elements of a DUI charge beyond a reasonable doubt before a jury can convict you. 

DUI Penalties in Florida

Not only must you understand the elements of a Florida DUI charge, but you must also understand the possible consequences of a DUI conviction. DUI is a misdemeanor offense in Florida.

However, if you have multiple prior offenses or if someone was severely injured or killed, your charge could be increased to a felony.

First DUI Offense

For the first DUI offense without aggravating factors, a person convicted of DUI faces a fine between $500 and $1,000, along with the possibility of jail for six months.

However, having a child in the car or driving with a BAC of 0.15 or greater increases the penalties, even for a first offense. In that case, you could receive a jail sentence of nine months and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000. 

Second DUI Offense

A conviction for a second offense DUI increases the possible jail time and fines. The fines increase to a minimum of $1,000 and no more than $2,000. The maximum jail term increases to nine months. 

The possible jail term would increase to one year if police observed a child in the car or the driver’s BAC was 0.15 or higher. Additionally, the range of potential fines increases to $2,000-$4,000.

Lastly, the court must sentence a person convicted of a second DUI offense to 10 days in jail if the prior crime happened within the last five years. The person must serve 48 hours consecutively.

However, the court can credit the person for time spent in a rehabilitation facility toward the jail sentence. 

Third DUI Offense

A third DUI offense is either a felony or a misdemeanor. The difference between the two depends on when the person was last convicted. If a person’s previous conviction is older than 10 years, then the charge is a misdemeanor and carries up to one year in jail.

Conversely, the charge becomes a felony if the person’s second offense occurred within the previous 10 years. A person convicted of a third offense DUI in Florida faces a minimum of 30 days in prison. The person must serve two days consecutively. In either case, the maximum fine is $4,000.

Fourth Offense or Greater

A person convicted of a fourth offense DUI or greater faces a maximum five-year state prison sentence.

Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction

Most people who have a DUI charge worry only about avoiding jail time. Losing one’s liberty is undoubtedly a primary concern. Notwithstanding, a DUI conviction carries other consequences you need to consider when planning your defense.

License Loss

Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles must suspend the license of every person convicted of DUI. The revocation period varies depending on the severity of the charge. The mandatory license revocation for a DUI conviction is:

  • 180 days to one year for a first offense;
  • Three years minimum for a first offense resulting in bodily injury;
  • 180 days to one year for a second offense when the prior offense did not occur within the last five years;
  • Five years for a second offense if the prior conviction occurred within the last five years, with possible eligibility for a hardship license after one year;
  • 180 days to one year for a third offense if the second offense occurred 10 years or more prior; and
  • 10 years for a third offense if the previous conviction occurred within the last 10 years, with possibility for a hardship license after two years.

Fourth offenses or greater and DUI manslaughter convictions carry mandatory lifetime revocations. You can apply for a hardship license in those circumstances, however, which could give you limited driving privileges for activities like driving to work or school.

The license loss for a DUI conviction does not include the administrative license revocation for failing or refusing a blood test, breath test, or field sobriety test.

Additional Consequences

A seasoned Pensacola DUI lawyer will inform you about additional consequences of a DUI conviction. A Pensacola judge may issue an order impounding the vehicle you drove when arrested for DUI. Also, the judge may order you to install an ignition interlock device on your car.

Moreover, your car insurance rates will skyrocket after a DUI conviction. You must also be aware of immigration consequences if you are not a citizen.

An Experienced Pensacola DUI Lawyer Could Help You Determine the Best Defense for Your Case

You must have a Pensacola DUI lawyer who knows how to make the best case for you. In some cases, the best defense might be to argue that the DUI case should be dismissed or evidence suppressed from the trial because the police violated your rights. 

In other circumstances, the better option may be a plea bargain to a reduced charge, such as “wet reckless.” Finally, contesting the evidence at trial and fighting for an acquittal might be the best option in your case.

You need a versatile and savvy DUI attorney in Pensacola to help you decide the best course of action. 

Contact Our Pensacola DUI Lawyers Today

At Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon, you can find a Pensacola DUI attorney who is committed to fighting for you. Relying on a wealth of criminal trial experience and representing individuals charged with DUI, our attorneys will closely examine your case to find the best result for you and your family.

Contact us online, or call our criminal defense lawyers today to speak with a DUI lawyer in Pensacola. We can answer your questions and determine the best path forward during your confidential consultation.