Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Understanding the differences between a first- and second-offense DUI

There is a certain similarity to many of the back-stories relating to first-offense DUIs. Indeed, many people had just one more drink than they normally do or thought they had waited just long enough for their body to metabolize the alcohol in their system.

What can be taken away from this is that mistakes were made and that the vast majority of people would act differently if given another chance. Fortunately, the law recognizes this and is not necessarily overly punitive toward first-time offenders provided the fallout from their actions was limited.

It's important to understand, however, that the law here in Florida isn't quite so understanding as far as second-offense DUIs are concerned. Indeed, those who find themselves convicted face decidedly more severe consequences.

First-offense DUI

  • Imprisonment: No more than six months
  • Fines: No more than $1,000 and no less than $500
  • License revocation: No more than 1 year and no less than 180 days

Second-offense DUI

  • Imprisonment: No more than nine months
  • Fines: No more than $2,000 and no less than $1,000
  • License revocation: Minimum of 5 years (if within five years of first conviction); no more than 1 year and no less than 180 days for all other second offenders

As you can see, the penalties do indeed become harsher. In fact, it's important to understand that while it is within the discretion of the court to award credit toward imprisonment for time spent in treatment programs, a judge may be far less willing to do this for subsequent DUI convictions.

What all of this serves to underscore is that you should strongly recommend speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible whether you've been arrested for a first- or a fourth-offense DUI. Doing so can help ensure that your rights are enforced, your future is protected and your options are preserved.  

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