An experienced DUI lawyer in Sarasota can help you obtain a positive case outcome by showing weaknesses in the prosecutor’s evidence, protecting your constitutional rights, and negotiating with the prosecutor. Florida DUI attorney Erika Valcarcel’s goal is to give you the best chances possible when facing a DUI charge in order to avoid the worst Florida DUI conviction consequences the state can bring against you.

In Florida, you can get charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if there is evidence that you operated a vehicle while impaired or with a blood alcohol level (BAL) exceeding .08. Whether you get convicted or not depends on the strength of the prosecutor’s evidence against you and your lawyer’s ability to advocate on your behalf before, during, and after your trial.

What a Florida DUI Conviction Could Mean for You

In addition to a blemished criminal record and the embarrassment of getting arrested, a Florida DUI conviction may involve fines, jail time, community service, rehab, or loss of your driver’s license. If the prosecutor can show that aggravating factors apply to your case, you may face harsher penalties. For example, if there was a minor in your car when you were driving while impaired or if your BAL was over .15, your license will automatically be revoked for 6 months to 1 year and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device placed on your vehicle when you are eligible to drive.

Jail Time

When you get arrested for drunk driving, you usually have to spend at least one night in jail before getting released. If you get convicted after your trial and you have a clean record, it is unlikely you will have to go to jail again unless aggravating factors apply to your case.

The jail sentences you could receive for a Florida DUI charge include:

  • First DUI charge — After conviction, your sentence could be as high as 6 months, and may increase to 9 months if there were aggravating factors such as a child in your car or if you had a BAL over .15.
  • Second DUI charge — After conviction, jail time could be between 9 and 12 months, depending on whether there were any aggravating factors. If the second conviction occurs within 5 years of the first, you will have to serve at least 10 days in jail, of which 48 hours must be consecutive.
  • Third DUI charge — After conviction, your sentence could increase to 12 months, and if your third conviction happens within 10 years of the second, you will face 30 days of mandatory jail time.
  • Multiple DUI convictions — The Florida criminal justice system may consider you a habitual offender, and sentence you to 5 years in prison.
  • DUIs involving property damage or bodily injury — When your alleged drunk driving involves an injury or damage to another’s property, you may be charged with misdemeanor DUI, which may result in a 1- year jail sentence. If the accident results in serious bodily injury, you could get charged with felony DUI, carrying a possible prison sentence of 5 years.
  • DUI causing death — You could get charged with either vehicular homicide or manslaughter, which are second-degree felonies carrying 15 year sentences. The sentences may be increased if you left the scene of the accident in violation of Florida law.


If you get convicted for driving under the influence, you will probably get a fine. The more DUI convictions you have, the higher the fines.

  • First DUI conviction — Your first DUI conviction will result in a fine between $500 and $1,000. With aggravating factors, the fines increase to the $1,000 to $2,000 range.
  • Second DUI conviction — Your fines will be between $1,000 and $2,000, unless aggravating factors apply to your case, in which case the fines will double.
  • Third DUI conviction — This involves fines between $2,000 and $4,000. With aggravating factors, the minimum fine is $4,000.
  • DUIs resulting in property damage or injury — If you cause property damage or a minor bodily injury, you may be charged with misdemeanor DUI, an offense carrying a $1,000 fine. If the injuries you cause are serious, you’ll face felony charges that may result in fines of up to $5,000.
  • DUIs causing loss of life — If you get convicted of vehicular manslaughter or homicide, you’ll face fines of up to $10,000.

If your DUI involved an accident, you may be liable for the medical expenses and property damage of the victims. In a civil trial, your DUI conviction may be used as evidence to prove your liability.

License Suspension or Revocation

One of the most difficult consequences of getting a DUI is losing your driving privileges. In most cases, you can apply for the reinstatement of your license after some time. This hardship license will allow you to drive only to and from certain places and during certain hours.

  • First conviction — The court will revoke your license for 6 months to 1 year. You may be eligible for a hardship or business purposes only license.
  • Second conviction — In this case, the court will revoke your license for 6 months to 1 year. If the second conviction occurs within 5 years of the first, your license will be revoked for 5 years, but you may be able to apply for hardship reinstatement after 1 year.
  • Third conviction — Your third conviction will cause your license to be revoked for at least 10 years, with a possible reinstatement after 2 years.
  • DUI Manslaughter — You will face permanent license revocation unless you have no priors, in which case you can seek reinstatement after 5 years.
  • Fourth Conviction or vehicular homicide — No matter when the previous offenses occurred, you will face a mandatory lifetime revocation with no possibility of reinstatement.

A lawyer can help you apply for reinstatement of your license if you can show that your lost driving privileges cause significant hardship in your life. For example, you might argue that you need your license back to get to work or to drop your kids off at school.

Community Service, Rehabilitative Programs, & Other DUI Penalties in Florida

After your first DUI conviction, you may be sentenced to 50 hours of community service. If you choose not to perform community service you’ll have to pay $10 for each hour you miss.

The court may order that you attend a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program in place of going to jail as conditions of your probation. You will have to pay for these programs but it’s a good alternative to giving up your freedom. Another condition of your probation will be to attend DUI driver school and a victim impact panel.

If your license is revoked, you may seek its reinstatement. In many cases, you will have to use an ignition interlock device as a condition of your license’s reinstatement. This expensive piece of equipment ensures that your car will not start unless there is no alcohol on your breath.

Unless your family has no other car, your DUI conviction will also result in impoundment. For your first conviction, your car will be impounded for 10 days, and if you get a second conviction within 5 years of the first, your car will be impounded for 30 days.

Learn More About Florida DUI Conviction Consequences by Contacting a Sarasota DUI Lawyer

The consequences of getting a DUI in Florida are severe. For this reason, you should hire a Sarasota DUI defense attorney to handle your case and defend your rights. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the better your chances of avoiding the penalties of a conviction, so call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

Erika Valcarcel has extensive experience handling DUI cases in Sarasota and Manatee counties — including several years of working as a prosecutor in both counties prior to becoming a Sarasota DUI lawyer. Valcarcel has first-hand knowledge of how Florida DUI cases in Sarasota courts are prosecuted and how to build strong defense strategies designed to get you the best possible outcome for your charge.