Criminal Defense LawyerLakeland, Tampa, FL

Facing Your First DUI Charge?

Get a Lakeland DUI defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights

For many people, a DUI charge is the first time they’ve been exposed to the criminal justice system or even interacted with law enforcement. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious consequences, even for a first DUI offense. A conviction can have a ripple effect on your career, your family, and your future.

You need a Lakeland DUI defense attorney who knows how to take on the legal system and win. If you’re facing your first DUI charge in Florida, talk to Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law today to protect your rights throughout the process.

What happens when you’re arrested for your first DUI in Florida?

The definition of DUI in Florida is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, or “impairment of normal faculties” while behind the wheel. Remember that some of the consequences of a DUI can start even before you are convicted: if you blow 0.08 or higher on the breath test, you will receive an administrative license suspension of six months, and if you refuse the breath test, you will receive an administrative suspension of one year.

You have 10 days to either request a formal review of your administrative suspension or waive the formal review and request a business purpose only (BPO) driver’s license that will allow you to drive to work, church, and medical appointments.

What are the penalties for a first DUI conviction in Florida?

Florida has famously tough penalties for drunk driving. Even though a first DUI offense is generally a misdemeanor, it’s a serious charge with serious penalties. The consequences of a first DUI conviction in Florida may include:

Jail time

There is no mandatory minimum jail sentence, but you may spend up to six months in jail, at the court’s discretion.


The fine for a first DUI in Florida is between $500 and $1,000.


Judges are required to give every first-time DUI offender some amount of probation. Normally, the combined length of incarceration and probation will not be more than one year.

License Suspension

After a first DUI conviction, your license may be suspended for up to six months. This is distinct from (and may overlap with) your administrative suspension resulting from either a failed breath test or refusal to test.

Community Service

First DUI convictions carry a mandatory 50 hours of community service. Sometimes you can “buy out” each hour of community service, typically $10 per hour.

Ignition Interlock Device

You are normally not required to install an ignition interlock device after a first DUI conviction, but the judge has discretion to require one for up to six months. If your breath is 0.15 or over, there is a 6 month IID requirement.

Vehicle Impoundment

Your vehicle will be impounded or immobilized for 10 days following conviction. Those 10 days can’t overlap with any time you spend in jail. There is a possibility to waive this if it is the only vehicle used in the household.

Additional penalties for aggravating circumstances

Even on your first offense, you can face additional penalties if your BAC was above 0.15, or if you had a passenger under age 18 in your vehicle.

FAQ about First DUI Charges

Can a first DUI charge be dismissed?

It is possible, but it depends on many factors, including the circumstances of your case and the strength of the evidence against you. You may be required to participate in a pretrial diversion program. An experienced attorney can review your situation and discuss your options.

Is a first time DUI a misdemeanor in Florida?

Yes. A first time DUI is almost always considered a misdemeanor, unless there are aggravating factors – for instance, if you caused an accident that led to serious bodily injuy or death. But even though it’s a misdemeanor, the consequences can be substantial and life-altering.

Do I need an attorney for a first DUI offense?

You are not required to have legal representation. But remember that prosecutors handle these cases every day and they start with the advantage. An experienced attorney who understands state DUI laws can investigate the facts of your case, and work to get the best possible outcome.

How much does a lawyer cost for a first DUI charge?

An attorney can discuss legal fees with you during a free consultation. The costs of not having experienced legal representation can be substantial, including fines, probation, and loss of driver’s license.

Why you need a lawyer for your first DUI offense

It only takes one mistake or one moment of bad luck to change the trajectory of your life. In Florida, a DUI conviction stays on your record for 75 years, and it can’t be expunged or sealed. The only way to avoid having it follow you for the rest of your life is to fight the system and get your first DUI charges dropped or get acquitted in court.

That’s why you need an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side, right from the beginning. An attorney may be able to dispute whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over or probable cause to suspect an offense. There may be issues with the breath or blood test that was used to measure your intoxication. An attorney can help you fight your charges in court and contest your license suspension to keep the DUI off your driving record.

The key is to talk to a lawyer – the right lawyer, someone with a winning track record in tough DUI cases – as soon as possible. The clock is ticking, and the prosecution won’t wait. Call 863-688-4606 or use the online contact form to discuss your situation with an experienced Lakeland DUI defense lawyer.

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