Types of DUI Charges in Florida

DUI Charges in Florida Vary

Driving under the influence in Florida is a serious crime, and conviction can have a very real impact.  That said, not all DUIs are the same.  In fact, the charges do vary.  If you have been accused of driving under the influence, understanding the differences is important.  In all aspects of life, knowledge is power.  Facing criminal charges is no different.

Below, the DUI defense attorneys at Taracks & Associates have provided information regarding the different types of DUI charges in Florida.

Circumstances Matter – DUI Details Determine the Penalties

First-Time DUI Charges

In order for a DUI charge to be categorized as a first-time offense; the driver’s record must meet two tests.  It must be free not only of prior DUI convictions, but also of other criminal offenses.

If convicted, possible penalties are broad and may include any (or a combination) of the following: community service (50 hours), vehicle impoundment, fines ranging from $500-$1,000, up to six months in jail, and the suspension of your driver’s license (minimum of 180 days).

Assuming your blood alcohol contact was below .15, and you meet the criteria to be considered a first-time offender, your DUI defense attorney may be able to negotiate a reduced sentence which may include mandatory attendance at a drug and alcohol rehab program.

Unfortunately, this is not true for all first-time offenders.  Those whose BAC is greater than .15 or who cause accidents in which others are injured or killed may face more stringent consequences.

Regardless of your BAC, you want to have a seasoned DUI attorney on your side, even if you are a first-time offender.


Second-Time DUI Charges

In Florida, time matters with regard to DUI classification. The magic number is five years. So if you are charged for a second time, but five years have passed since your first incident, you will be treated as a first-time offender.  However, if the charges are within five years of your first, it will be recognized as a second offense. In cases like this, and for third-time DUI offenders, possible penalties are more serious and can include up to one year in jail  and maximum fines of $4,000.

Repeated DUI Charges

As mentioned above, third-time DUI penalties are similar to those for a second offense, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the event.  However, those fourth-time DUI offenders can be charged with a third-degree felony.  This is serious; the penalties are much more severe and can have a significant impact on your future and that of your family.

If convicted, you risk the permanent loss of your driver’s license — it can never be reinstated. Additionally, third-degree felonies are punishable by fines up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail.  A felony conviction can impact your ability to work, secure housing, own a firearm, and even vote.  Without a doubt, you want to engage a criminal defense attorney who has experience defending repeat DUI offenders.

DUI Causing Property Damage

If you are involved in a DUI accident that causes property damage to another’s belongings, and are found guilty, your sentence may be comprised of a combination of jail time, probation, license suspension, fines, impoundment, community service, and substance abuse education.  Several factors, including your blood alcohol level, will determine the exact penalties and their severity.  Your Tampa DUI attorney can review your case and share their thoughts with you.

DUI Under the Age of 21

Because the legal drinking age in Florida is 21, there is a zero tolerance policy for those under that age who are convicted of a DUI.  Those convicted for the first time can face a broad realm of penalties including community service, fines, and six months of license suspension.  If your BAC reads at .05 or more, enrollment and completion of DUI evaluation and course is mandatory.  The license suspension increases to one year for a second offense and 18 months for a third. Representation by a seasoned Tampa DUI attorney can help protect a minor’s future.

DUIs Causing Bodily Injury

When another person is seriously injured with a risk of death, suffers permanent disfigurement or bodily impairment, the DUI charge becomes a felony with severe repercussions.  If you find yourself in this situation, contact a DUI attorney immediately.

Aggravated DUI

This DUI charge is applicable when a BAC is at .15 or greater and a child under the age of 18 is in the automobile.  Penalties for this serious offense would vary based on if this is your first, second or third conviction; a mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) may be installed in your car for a specified period of time.  Your DUI lawyer can explain these penalties further.

DUI/Drug Charges

DUI charges are brought for impaired driving; whether the substance causing the impairment was alcohol or drugs is irrelevant, and the penalties are similar for both. Make sure the DUI lawyer you engage is experienced in handling cases of this type as defense strategies may vary.

DUI with Manslaughter

If another individual was killed as a result of your driving under the influence, you may be charged with a second-degree felony, which is punishable by a maximum of up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The state does have mandatory minimums for crimes of this type, which your DUI defense lawyer can explain to you.  Suffice it to say that being charged with DUI manslaughter is incredibly serious and should be regarded as such.

DUI While Driving a Commercial Vehicle

Drivers of commercial vehicles are held to standards higher than others.  In Florida, operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 puts you at risk of being charged with DUI. A first offense can result in a commercial vehicle license suspension of one year unless the driver’s load is hazardous materials. In that case, the suspension is three years.  The greater the danger, the more severe the punishment.

Commercial drivers  convicted of a second DUI would be permanently disqualified for holding a commercial vehicle driver’s license.


Additionally, commercial vehicle drivers convicted of a DUI are ineligible for hardship licenses, meaning their ability to work will be strongly impacted. It is important to keep in mind that even if your license is reinstated after a year, companies may be hesitant to hire you based on your past conviction. Hiring drivers with a DUI on their record can be a risky proposition. In this and all DUI instances, engaging qualified legal help is extremely important.

We Know How to Defend All Types of DUI Charges in Florida

Contact Taracks & Associates Today

Have you been charged with driving under the influence? If so, you are likely frightened, confused and concerned about your future. Florida takes driving under the influence seriously, so you have good reason to worry.

Led by Barry Taracks, the team of criminal defense attorneys at Taracks & Associates is well-versed in defending all types of DUI charges in Florida. We meet all of our clients with an open mind and an understanding that mistakes happen. We never judge and always provide you with the high-quality, attentive defense services you need and deserve.

As a show of our commitment, we offer all prospective clients a free consultation/case review.  During this important meeting, we can learn the details of your experience and share how we believe we can help.  In every case, our goal is to mitigate the stress associated with the legal issue and minimize any forthcoming consequences.

For more than 30 years we have provided hands-on defense services to those in the Tampa Bay area.

We have a long-standing commitment to the community and are ready to help you.


Not only do we understand the laws governing each type of DUI charge, we are also experienced in negotiating and defending them. We know what to do and how to do it.

When charged with a DUI, time is a valuable asset; you cannot afford to waste it.  Reach out to us today at 813-281-2897 to schedule your consultation.  We are available to meet with you immediately. The impact of a DUI charge on your life can be considerable. Skilled and experienced legal representation can make a very real difference in your future.

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