Consequences are Harsh in Jacksonville for DUI Convictions
News outlets reported that a 26-year-old man from St. Augustine, Florida was tragically killed in a wrong-way car accident in November, 2021. The deadly collision occurred on I-295 at Baymeadows Road. The accident resulted in all lanes being blocked for about five hours. According to state Troopers, a 42-year-old man was driving an SUV around 3:30 am northbound but on the southbound lane. The SUV hit a van head-on. The SUV driver was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries while the van’s driver died at the accident scene. While Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) did not receive any calls about the wrong-way crash, they did receive a wrong-way driver advisory about an SUV at 95 and Baymeadows about an hour-and-a-half before the deadly accident.
The SUV’s driver, who is a foreign national from the Dominican Republic and has no U.S. driver’s license or address, was arrested. According to arrest reports, the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.27–three times the legally allowable limit under Florida law. He has been charged with DUI manslaughter and remained hospitalized but on an absentee booking as well as an immigration hold by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Arrest records show the man is being held on a $125,000.00 bond.
Stay Safe During the Holidays
According to research conducted by News4JAX reporters, the FHP recorded 104 wrong-way crashes in the area of Northeast Florida since 2019. Twenty-eight of those wrong-way collisions were fatal. According to law enforcement, wrong-way as well as driving under the influence car accidents increase during the holidays. Specifically, these occur when it becomes darker earlier in the day and people are leaving holiday parties. There are several tips that can be followed to stay safe during the holidays when going to, or returning, from the festivities. These include:
- Being extra observant while on the road;
- Driving defensively at all times;
- Paying close attention to what is occurring around you;
- Drive in the right lane at night to avoid crashes;
Following these tips above can help keep you, your loved ones, and others on the road safe.
Penalties in Florida for DUI Convictions
Florida is known for having some of the most strict driving under the influence (DUI) penalties in the nation. Under Florida law, if you are charged and convicted of a DUI offense, you cannot have it expunged or sealed and it will remain on your record. It is important to keep in mind that a criminal judge has the discretion to impose a wide range of minimum and maximum penalties for someone who has been convicted of a DUI in Florida. Below is a description of the penalties for Florida DUIs, depending on the number of offenses.
A first offense DUI in Florida includes penalties of :
- up to six months of confinement if the accused refuses a breathalyzer test or if the person’s registered BAC is below 0.15 and there was no car accident;
- Up to nine months imprisonment if the accused has a BAC of 0.15 or higher or if the person was driving with a minor in his or her vehicle;
- Up to 12 months in jail for a DUI-related car accident.
A second offense DUI in Florida includes penalties of:
- A minimum of 10 days in jail upon conviction of a second DUI, if the second DUI arrest occurred within five years of the first DUI conviction. A criminal judge has the discretion to order participation in a residential rehabilitation program instead of time in prison;
- A maximum of nine months in jail if the second DUI arrest is more than five years after the first DUI conviction and the accused either refused to submit to a breathalyzer test or their registered BAC was below 0.15 and no car accident occured;
- A maximum of 12 months in jail if the second DUI arrest is more than five years after the first DUI conviction and either if the accused’s BAC was 0.15 or was driving with a minor in the vehicle.
A third offense DUI in Florida includes penalties of:
- A 30 day minimum jail time upon conviction of a third DUI arrest within 10 years of the first and second convictions.
- A maximum of 12 months in jail upon conviction of a third DUI arrest within 10 years of the first and second convictions.
A fourth-offense (or more) DUI in Florida includes penalties of:
- A fourth DUI conviction is an automatic felony offense, no matter how long ago any prior DUI charges happened. A person faces up to five years in prison.
Florida Driving Privileges Are Affected by DUI Convictions
Those who are found guilty and convicted of driving under the influence in Florida for the first time can potentially face the loss of driving privileges. Immediately after an arrest, drivers’ licenses suspensions are issued. The suspension can continue for months or years, depending on the circumstances. Florida law mandates:
- First DUI offense: minimum of six months and maximum of one year license suspension;
- Second DUI offense: if arrest is within five years of the first DUI conviction, the driver’s license is suspended for a minimum of five years with the opportunity for a hardship license after a 12 months suspension. If the second arrest is more than five years after the first DUI conviction, the drivers’ license suspension is for a minimum of six months.
- Third DUI offense: a minimum of 10 years drivers’ license suspension, with the possibility of a hardship license reinstatement after two years;
- Fourth DUI offense: the permanent revocation of a driver’s license with no possibility of a hardship reinstatement.
Florida DUI Conviction Fines & Fees
In addition, there are financial penalties in Florida for a DUI conviction. Those convicted of driving under the influence in the sunshine state can expect to pay monetary fines that increase based on the persons’ past history and the level of impairment at the time of the offense. The fines include for a :
- First-offense DUI: between $500 and $1,000. If a minor is in the vehicle at the time of the infraction or if the driver’s BAC is 0.15 or higher, the fines go up to between $1,000 and $2,000;
- Second-offense DUI: between $1,000 and $2,000. If a minor is in the vehicle at the time of the infraction or if the driver’s BAC is 0.15 or higher, the fines go up to between $2,000 and $4,000;
- Third-offense DUI: between $2,000 and $5,000. If a minor is in the vehicle at the time of the infraction or if the driver’s BAC is 0.15 or higher, the fines go up to between $4,000 and $5,000;
- Fourth-offense DUI: no less than $2,000.
Florida Criminal Attorneys
When it comes to DUI charges, do not take any chances. If you have been charged with a DUI or have been accused of any other crime in Florida, you should immediately contact the experienced criminal attorneys at Shorstein, Lasnetski, & Gihon Law. Contact us today for your initial case evaluation.