A Florida DUI carries high short-term and long-term costs that go well beyond the hefty fines and DUI fees assessed by the court. A DUI lawyer is a necessary advocate who can minimize the court-imposed costs and the long-term impact a DUI can have on your life.
You can be arrested for DUI in Florida if your blood alcohol level reaches 0.08 or higher. When this happens, costs begin accruing immediately. These costs can quickly become overwhelming without the guidance and assistance of a qualified DUI attorney.
In addition to fines, a DUI offense can result in significant court costs, license reinstatement fees, probation fees, and impound fees. Avoiding jail or getting access to a license for work-related purposes can make the expenses even higher.
Long-term, your ability to maintain gainful employment may be hindered by supervision requirements, driving restrictions, and a DUI on your criminal record. Without a knowledgeable Orlando DUI lawyer representing you, you may be set up for failure.
Fines are almost certain in a DUI conviction, and they can be significant even for your first DUI offense in Florida. With each additional DUI offense, the fines increase.
First DUI Offense
The first DUI offense in Florida results in a fine of $500 to $1,000. If your blood alcohol content is 0.15 or higher, the fine is increased to a range of $1,000 to $2,000.
Second DUI Offense
The second DUI offense in Florida incurs a fine of $1,000 to $2,000 unless the blood alcohol content measures at 0.15 or higher, in which case the fine ranges from $2,000 to $4,000.
Third and Subsequent DUI Offense
For a third or fourth DUI offense in Florida, you can receive a fine of $2,000 to $5,000. If your blood alcohol level reaches 0.15 or higher, the minimum fine imposed will be $4,000.
If someone is killed in relation to a DUI offense, you may be charged with DUI manslaughter, which incurs a fine of up to $10,000.
Administrative Fees and Court Costs
DUI fines are only the beginning of the financial cost of a DUI. Florida statutes require the court to assess the following administrative penalties and court costs:
Costs of DUI Supervision and Services
DUI sentencing includes supervision and at times substance abuse treatment. All of these services require the payment of recurring fees.
Supervision includes probation, parole, and special supervision services.
While on supervision, you will be required to report to your probation officer periodically, usually once a month. You will be required to pay a fee each time you report. This fee varies by jurisdiction. State law requires a minimum fee of $40 for misdemeanor probation. The recurring probation fee in Orange County is $50.
First and second offenses incur a probation period of one year. Subsequent offenses can incur a probationary period of up to five years.
DUI Special Supervision Services
Special Supervision Services is a voluntary program for individuals convicted of DUI who have received permanent driver’s license revocations or revocations lasting five or 10 years. Successful completion of this program allows an individual to obtain a restricted license “for business purposes only” or “employment purposes only.”
This is a zero-tolerance program that provides extensive psychological evaluations, random drug and alcohol testing, case monitoring, and referral to substance abuse treatment when deemed necessary.
The fees associated with participation in this program include:
These are in addition to several smaller fees.
Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs
Services such as court-ordered drug and alcohol rehabilitation and drug court provide more strict supervision as well as education and rehabilitation. The court may order you into DUI school or a substance use disorder treatment program.
The costs for a substance misuse program are as follows:
The program you are ordered into hinges on factors such as the results of your evaluation and your DUI history.
Drug court is a pre-trial intervention program that, if successfully completed, allows some first-time offenders to have their cases dismissed. The cost of drug court varies by county. In Orange County, the cost is $900. The cost for Osceola County is $1525.
Drug court is also time-consuming. You will be required to complete classes and submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
DUI Driving and Vehicle Expenses
The cost of a Florida DUI does not end with court-imposed DUI fees and program costs. DUI also brings about expenses related to your vehicle, driving, and license reinstatement.
After you are arrested for a DUI, your vehicle will be towed by the police. You will be sentenced to an impoundment period based on the number of prior DUI offenses you have had. The impound period begins after you complete your incarceration. These costs can be significant.
This means you will also have towing and storage fees prior to the impound period. State law imposes the following impound periods on Florida DUI offenses:
If your DUI resulted in property damage, the court will likely order you to pay restitution in an amount commensurate with the damage.
Ignition Interlock Device Expenses
An ignition interlock device is a portable breathalyzer that is attached to your ignition. The device is designed to disable your car until you pass a breath test. To pass this test, your blood alcohol content must be below .02. If it is higher than this, in addition to having your car disabled, you will incur a violation and an added fee.
The court may order you to have this device installed in your car at your expense. You will also incur monthly maintenance expenses for the device. The state of Florida has provided a list of approved interlock ignition device vendors.
The cost of an interlock device will vary from one vendor to the next. According to Intoxalock, an approved vendor, the typical cost ranges from $2.50 to $3.50 per day plus the cost of installation.
After you qualify to reinstate your license, you will be required to pay the following fees:
The cost of a Florida DUI attorney will vary based on the amount of work required for your specific case.
Long-Term DUI Costs
In addition to a permanent criminal record, a DUI can also result in a lifetime of expenses related to limited economic opportunities and the loss of your driving privileges.
Employers often perform pre-employment background checks. When they see a DUI on your record, they may select another candidate. A DUI can also prevent you from obtaining certain professional licenses. If you have lost your driving privileges, this may further limit your employment options.
You may also lose wages as a result of incarceration, time spent completing required community service, and time spent in mandatory drug court classes or substance abuse programs.
Increased Transportation Costs
DUI can result in higher transportation costs due to having to use public transportation and taxi services. You may choose to invest in a bicycle or pay friends or family members to drive you to work, drug court, probation, or other destinations.
When your license is reinstated, the cost of driving will be significantly higher. You will be required to obtain a financial responsibility form known as the Florida FR-44, which significantly increases your insurance premiums. You will also be required to maintain the following higher insurance coverage limits for three years:
Alternatively, you can choose a combined single limit of $350,000.
Fewer Housing Opportunities
If you are incarcerated, your credit rating may become tarnished. This would preclude you from purchasing a home using a mortgage. You may be able to rent, but most landlords perform background checks. Some landlords may refuse to rent to you because of a DUI on your record.
If your DUI caused property damage, severe bodily injury, or death, the injured parties may file a civil lawsuit against you for the damages. The court could award economic, non-economic, and punitive damages to the injured party.
Your insurance company may cover some of this, but if your coverage limits are lower than the damages, you will be required to pay the remaining damages. Most insurance companies do not cover punitive damages. The amount awarded can be staggering.
Is a DUI attorney worth the cost?
Whether you are charged with a first-offense DUI or a subsequent DUI, your future hangs in the balance. You may feel as though there is no end to the financial obligations at a time when the offense has made it more difficult than ever to earn an income.
Hiring a DUI attorney is an investment that could significantly minimize these costs, including the long-term financial consequences and the non-monetary costs such as incarceration.
The Orlando criminal law attorneys at O’Mara Law Group are experienced in DUI cases. If this is your first offense, we may be able to help you get it dismissed or expunged. If this is a subsequent offense, we may be able to have the charges reduced.
In addition, we are well-prepared to refute the evidence against you. Police are required to adhere to a strict set of policies and procedures when making a DUI arrest, including the administration of a chemical test.
If law enforcement violated any of these procedures, our attorneys may be able to have this evidence suppressed. This drastically impairs the district attorney’s case against you and could result in a dismissal.
When you are first arrested, your driver’s license will be taken from you. You have the right to request a hearing to have your license reinstated while your case progresses. Our attorneys can help you request this hearing and achieve a positive outcome. However, you only have 10 days to request this hearing.
Additionally, all your statements and actions can be used against you by the prosecution. The sooner you hire an attorney, the stronger your case can be. Contact us today for a free consultation with a DUI attorney.