Who is Toughest on DUI Crimes?
A recent study ranked Florida the 21st strictest state when it comes to DUI penalties. The rankings were based in part by examining the penalties and restrictions that drivers convicted of DUI face. The report concluded that Arizona, Alaska, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Kansas had the strictest penalties for DUI convictions in the country (in that order), while Maryland, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and South Dakota had the least strict penalties.
Florida Penalties for DUI
A driver in Florida who is convicted of DUI can expect to pay a fine of at least $500 if he or she has not been convicted of DUI in the past. Although there is no minimum jail sentence (that is, the judge is not required to sentence the first-time DUI driver to any particular jail sentence), the judge can sentence the driver to up to six months in jail. There will also likely be a period of time in which your license is suspended and/or you will be required to drive a car that is equipped with an ignition interlock device.
What’s more, Florida will consider DUI convictions appearing on your record for several years when determining whether you are a repeat offender and, as such, subject you to stricter penalties. For example, you can be charged with a third or subsequent offense of DUI in Florida if you have at least two prior DUI convictions that were entered within the previous 10 years.
How Does the Federal DUI Law Compare?
You may not realize it but the federal government has its own DUI law as well. Federal DUI charges can be levied against individuals who (for example) are found driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on federal land. Federal DUI charges are frequently found in cases of individuals vacationing at national parks who are found by park rangers to be under the influence.
Federal DUI penalties are much stricter than Florida penalties. Even a first-time conviction can result in thousands of dollars of fines along with the possibility of several months in jail. These penalties are on top of license restrictions and/or suspensions being placed on your driver’s license. Federal employees or members of the military who receive federal DUI charges can also face discipline from their employers.
You Need an Experienced State and Federal DUI Attorney
“Drunk driving” may seem like a relatively minor charge, but both the State of Florida and the federal government treat even first-time offenses very seriously. There are legal defenses that can be raised that could result in the prosecution agreeing to reduce or even dismiss your DUI charges. This will allow you to avoid the severe penalties, stigma, and restrictions that come with a DUI conviction.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner has successfully represented clients charged with state-level and federal-level DUI charges. Contact his offices right away after a DUI charge or arrest to discuss your winning defense strategy.