Can You Expunge a DUI in Florida?
You cannot expunge or seal a Florida DUI record, but Florida offers programs to reduce your charges or avoid conviction. If the judge dismisses the charges or reduces them to reckless or careless driving, you could seek expungement later. You also have the option to seal records if your DUI charges did not result in a conviction. An attorney at O’Mara Law Group can explain your legal options for DUI expungement and sealing.
Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara
Content last updated on: July 25, 2023
A DUI conviction can have lasting consequences on your personal and professional life. The state of Florida does not seal or expunge DUI convictions, so your best option is to mount a sound defense to reduce or dismiss your DUI charges from the start.
Speak with an Orlando DUI lawyer at O’Mara Law Group to learn how you can mitigate the potential consequences of Florida DUI charges. Our team of dedicated criminal defense attorneys can review your case and advise of the best way to reduce your DUI charges to a sealable or expungable offense, so you have a better chance to clear your record.
What Is a DUI in Florida?
According to Florida law, a driver is guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) if they operate a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. The legal blood alcohol concentration limit in Florida is 0.08, but impairment can occur at any level of intoxication.
DUI is not limited to impairment from alcohol use. A driver can be guilty of DUI if impaired by drugs, such as over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, and illegal substances. When a driver uses any drugs that affect their judgment and responsiveness, they could face DUI charges.
What Are the Penalties for a Florida DUI Conviction?
Penalties for a DUI can be severe and affect your life for years to come. Florida DUI penalties can vary depending on the following factors:
- Whether you have prior DUI offenses
- How high your blood alcohol content is according to testing
- Whether anyone suffered injuries or died due to the DUI
A first-time DUI conviction with no prior offenses carries a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of six months in jail. A second offense carries a fine of up to $2,000 and as many as nine months in jail. After a second DUI offense, the court may require you to install a state-approved ignition interlock device on your vehicle for a period of at least one year.
A third or fourth DUI offense within ten years constitutes a third-degree felony. DUI felony offenses carry higher fines and longer incarceration periods. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for at least two years.
In addition, authorities may suspend, limit, or revoke your driver’s license after a DUI conviction in Florida.
Hire an experienced felony lawyer in Orlando for help navigating a third or fourth DUI offense.
What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An ignition interlock device is a specialized piece of equipment that requires a breath sample to start your vehicle. The device will not allow the ignition to activate unless the breath sample shows less than 0.05 alcohol concentration.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Florida?
In the state of Florida, a DUI conviction remains permanently on your criminal record, even if it is a misdemeanor. Once you have a DUI conviction, you cannot hide or remove the conviction from your record. However, you can mitigate the effects of DUI charges before you face a conviction. Consult with a knowledgeable Florida DUI attorney to learn how to avoid a permanent DUI record.
A Conviction Can Have Lasting Effects
All the above penalties can cause significant long-term effects on your personal and professional life. DUI convictions remain on your record permanently, which makes it hard to secure certain jobs or housing.
Fines, court costs, and increased insurance premiums can result in long-term financial difficulty, which makes it difficult to calculate how much a DUI costs. With a restricted, revoked, or suspended license, you may find it difficult to go to work, run errands, or care for family members.
A DUI attorney in Florida can guide you through the legal process. They can investigate the facts of your DUI case and establish a defense that aims to reduce or eliminate your DUI charges.
Can You Get a DUI Expunged in Florida?
You cannot expunge a DUI conviction in Florida. You could, however, ask the court to seal the record if they dismissed or dropped your DUI charges without a conviction. If the judge reduced your initial DUI charges to careless or reckless driving, you may also have the option to seek expungement.
Expungement and sealing procedures are complex, and only apply for non-DUI convictions. A Florida DUI lawyer at O’Mara Law Group can explain your legal options.
When Does a Withhold Adjudication Apply?
The State of Florida allows judges to withhold adjudication for certain offenses. When a judge withholds adjudication, they impose probation instead of a conviction for the DUI offense.
Judges typically withhold adjudication for first-time offenders but may consider the option for repeat offenders under certain circumstances. Although a withhold of adjudication circumvents a formal DUI conviction, the charges remain on your record. Once you receive a withhold, you can ask the court to seal the DUI charges so they do not appear in background checks.
DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program
For first-time DUI misdemeanor offenders, Florida has instituted a DUI Rehabilitation Offenders Program. The program allows certain DUI offenders to complete community service, DUI School, and a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim impact panel instead of jail time. If you complete the program within the required time frame, the State amends your DUI charges to reckless driving.
To understand your legal rights and options for DUI record expungement or sealing in Florida, it is best to consult with a DUI attorney right away. D.R.O.P. and withhold of adjudication processes have different requirements and legal time frames. A skilled DUI attorney from O’Mara Law Group can guide you through the process to seek the best possible outcome.
How Long Does It Take to Expunge a DUI in Florida?
Since you cannot expunge a DUI after conviction, your best options are charge reduction, the DUI Rehabilitation Offenders Program, or a withhold of adjudication. Depending on the route you take, you could request that the court seal or expunge lesser charges from your record after you fulfill your punitive obligations.
To start the sealing or expungement process, you must secure a Certificate of Eligibility from the State of Florida. The Certificate is a formal document indicating that the record is eligible for sealing or expungement. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement takes approximately 12 weeks to determine eligibility. Upon receipt of the certificate, you can petition the court for sealing or expungement.
The entire process can take several months. This time frame may differ depending on whether you seek expungement or sealing. Some county courts take longer than others to process expungement and sealing petitions. A DUI attorney at O’Mara Law Group can guide you through the process and advise of the potential time frame for record sealing or expungement.
Consult With an Attorney About Your Florida DUI Expungement Options
If you or a loved one face DUI charges in Florida, a skilled criminal defense lawyer could provide legal guidance. A criminal defense attorney aims to reduce or eliminate DUI charges to lessen the long-term impact of DUI charges. Although you cannot expunge a DUI in Florida, you have options to reduce your DUI charges and seek expungement or sealing for lesser charges.
Contact O’Mara Law Group today for experienced representation in your Florida DUI case.
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