DUI and Job Loss.

Anyone can get arrested for a DUI charge, and it could cause negative changes to a person’s entire life. Saint Patrick’s Day is just one of those celebrations where police officers increase traffic patrol units to observe and arrest intoxicated drivers in efforts to reduce accidents that cause personal injury and damage.  In March of last year, after loud noises near 130th Avenue and Wild Acres Road in Largo Florida were reported, a Pinellas County Sheriff’s lieutenant was arrested for drunk driving. She was a 19-year employee of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office who was charged with one count of driving under the influence and subsequently fired from her job.  Seeking legal counsel to defend a DUI arrest is imperative to any case with the hope for a reduction in imposed penalties related to the charge.  Former Lieutenant Christi Ruhtz personally felt the weight of the seriousness attached to a Florida DUI charge, even after first-hand knowledge of the consequences of DUI arrests in her time working on the Pinellas County Force.

Convictions vs. Tickets.

In support of Florida’s mission to reduce accidents and deaths on Florida roadways caused by drunk drivers, 43,899 DUI violation tickets were issued to Florida drivers in 2017 with over half resulting in convictions and 3,155 of those tickets were issued in Pinellas County, where Largo is located.

Abide by the Law.

Knowing the DUI laws and penalties is important to keep someone from the bad decision to drink and drive.  Knowing when to seek help regarding your actions is another story, the quicker you seek out legal help, the better chance you have of lighter sentencing if your attorney can disprove any of the DUI charges against you.

Penalties.

Florida penalties for first offense DUI and include:

Fine – $500 to $1000 (blood alcohol level of .15 or higher or minor in vehicle)

  • Community Service – 50 Hours
  • Probation – Not more than 1 Year
  • Imprisonment – Not more than 6 Months
  • Imprisonment with BAL of .08 or higher with a minor in the vehicle, not more than 9 months
  • License Revocation – Minimum of 180 days
  • DUI School – 12 Hours

Penalties for a first DUI conviction in Florida increase dramatically if BAL (Blood Alcohol Level is .15 or higher or if a minor is in the vehicle). In these cases an Ignition Interlock Device may be installed for at least 6 continuous months.  Average costs related to a DUI can be high, including legal defense, fines, and auto insurance increases of approximately $8000.  With each additional DUI conviction the penalties in Florida are more severe. Complete details on Florida DUI penalties can be found in the Florida drivers manual.

Florida Statute 316.193

Second Conviction Offense: mandates the driver have an ignition interlock device approved by the state, installed on all vehicles individually or jointly owned or leased and operated by the convicted person when the convicted person qualifies for a permanent or restricted driver’s license;

Third Conviction Offense: If a person is convicted of a third violation within ten years after a prior conviction it will be considered a felony of the third degree; if convicted of a third violation after ten years from the prior convictions, punishment will be a fine of $2,000 to $5,000 and prison time of not more than 12 months, and a mandatory ignition interlock device for 2 years.

Fourth or More Convictions: If convicted of a fourth or more violation, it is considered a felony of the third degree and punishable with a fine not less than $2,000; and placement of an ignition interlock device for at least six months.

Legal Counsel.

Hire an attorney who knows the laws that will strengthen your claim for reduced penalties or removal of all charges.  DUI arrests and charges can be fought in court to minimize penalties,  and in some cases prove innocence.

Trevena, Pontrello & Associates

801 W Bay Drive Suite 509, Largo, FL 33770

Phone: (727) 581-5813

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.193.html

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.066.html