In Florida, the DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) laws come with minimum mandatory penalties for a conviction. These penalties increase for each successive DUI a person gets. One benefit of a criminal defense lawyer getting the state to amend a DUI charge to a reckless driving charge is the reckless driving charge does not count as a DUI conviction that increases the minimum penalties if the person gets one or more additional DUI convictions.
One of the minimum penalties that comes with a DUI conviction is a suspension of the person’s driver’s license. The suspension can be as short as six months for a first DUI conviction or as long as ten years for a third DUI conviction that is within ten years of the prior conviction. The DMV does allow people to get hardship licenses which permit people to drive to work, school and other necessities, but there may be a period of time before a person can apply for a hardship license depending on the case.
If a person gets a fourth DUI conviction in Florida, that person’s driving privileges will likely be revoked forever. That is mandated by statute in Florida. However, not all convictions count. In a recent DUI case from Jacksonville, Florida, the DMV attempted to permanently revoke a person’s driving privileges based on four prior DUI convictions. However, it was noted that one of prior DUI convictions was a violation of a city ordinance, rather than a Florida state statute. The criminal defense attorney appealed the permanent suspension. The court agreed and held that a DUI conviction that is a violation of a city or municipal ordinance does not count as one of the four prior DUI’s that can result in a permanent driver’s license suspension. The prior convictions must be violations of state DUI laws. The conviction at issue was an old DUI conviction that related to an old city ordinance. However, the DMV can go back as far as they want to count prior DUI convictions. If a conviction is 40 years old, it can count, as long as it is a state DUI violation.
Additionally, the DMV in Florida can permanently revoke a person’s driver’s license if one or all of the prior DUI convictions are from other states. The state in which the prior DUI conviction(s) occurred is not relevant. However, if the DMV is using a prior DUI conviction from another state, it is worth looking into to make sure it is not a city ordinance type of violation. In fact, all of the prior DUI convictions should be reviewed to make sure they legally count as prior DUI convictions that can result in a lengthy driver’s license suspension, or, in the case of a fourth or more DUI conviction, a permanent license suspension.