Out-of-state drivers are subject to the same DUI laws as Florida residents, but they may be surprised to learn a DUI conviction in Florida can follow them back home. If you live out of state but were charged with drunk or impaired driving in Florida, call criminal defense attorney Erika Valcarcel at (941) 363-7900. A Sarasota out-of-state DUI lawyer from Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. can help defend you against an out-of-state DUI charge in Florida.

People travel to Florida for all sorts of reasons and may be charged with a traffic violation or a crime while they’re here. People come to Florida for work, to visit family, or go on vacation. With attractions like Walt Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and regions like the Everglades or the Keys, it’s no wonder that people flock to the state every year. But with visitors comes more cars on the road, and with more cars there’s a greater chance of someone driving while impaired from drugs or alcohol.

Florida DUI Laws

Under Florida’s motor vehicle statute section 316.193, a person is guilty of a DUI if a person is driving or in physical control of a vehicle while he or she is under the influence of alcohol or another chemical substance. A chemical substance can be a variety of illegal or prescription drugs that alter a person’s ability to safely drug.

The legal limit for a driver’s BAC is 0.08 percent in Florida like it is around the U.S. However, drivers can be arrested for a DUI even if they don’t blow at or above 0.08 percent. People can be convicted of a DUI in Sarasota if the prosecutor can prove their normal faculties were impaired at the time of the arrest.

If you’re pulled over for a DUI, the officer won’t care whether you’re a resident of the state or not. Anyone driving on Florida’s roads is required to follow the state’s laws.

Penalties for a DUI

A first DUI offense with a BAC less than .15 percent is punishable by:

  • A fine up to $1,000
  • At least 50 hours of community service
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • A combination of jail time and probation up to 1 year
  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • 10-day vehicle impoundment or immobilization
  • License revocation for 180 days or up to 1 year
  • DUI school prior to license reinstatement

However, for a first offense with a BAC at or above .15 percent, the penalties are harsher, including a higher fine, more time in jail, and a longer license suspension.

A second DUI within 5 years of a first DUI conviction comes with serious consequences, including:

  • A fine up to $2,000
  • Mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days
  • Up to 9 months in jail
  • Probation
  • Drug and alcohol treatment
  • 30 day vehicle impoundment or immobilization
  • License revocation for at least 5 years, possible hardship reinstatement after 1 year
  • DUI school

If you’re an out-of-state driver, the Florida courts may take into account any DUIs you were convicted of in other states when deciding if this offense is a first DUI, second DUI, or subsequent DUI.

Also, if you’re convicted of a DUI in Florida but you live elsewhere, you will still have to complete your punishment. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to come back to Florida for jail time, treatment, or to suffer through a license suspension. Instead, interstate agreements require you to fulfill your penalty back home.

Consequences of a Florida DUI for Out-of-State Drivers

Many drivers don’t realize more than 40 states and Washington, D.C. are part of a Driver License Compact. This is an agreement that says these states will give each other information about certain traffic offenses and license suspensions that take place within their boundaries. The driver’s home state will then treat the situation as if it occurred at home, enforcing the penalties there.

You can’t simply drive or fly home and assume that the arrest that took place in Florida will go away or take care of itself. Florida is a part of this compact. If your home state is as well, Florida will tell your state about your DUI conviction and you may undergo the penalties back home. If a Florida court revokes your license, your state may do so as well. If you are sentenced to a certain time in jail and probation, you may go to the country jail near where you live and have probation supervised in your state. This ensures drivers don’t escape punishment simply by leaving the state.

In addition to the Driver License Compact, many states are part of the Nonresident Violator Compact. Under this agreement, which Florida is a part of, states inform each other when an out-of-state individual doesn’t pay a fine. If you fail to pay the fines associated with a DUI conviction in Florida, your home state may enforce the punishment for this nonpayment.

The bottom line is that if you are an out-of-state driver when you are arrested for a DUI, you need to pay attention to not only Florida’s consequences after a DUI conviction, but how those penalties will affect you back in your home state.

Call a Florida Out-of-State DUI Lawyer for Help

One of the major obstacles to dealing with an out-of-state DUI is that you have to go home before all of your court appearances or trial. You can’t simply take off work or school until your DUI case is complete, and you likely cannot afford to return to Florida for every court date. This is why you need an experienced Sarasota out-of-state DUI attorney like Erika Valcarcel to represent you in court while you’re away. You may not be able to avoid coming back to Florida for some hearings or the trial, but you will not need to appear at every court date during your DUI case – your DUI lawyer in Sarasota can appear on your behalf.

For more information about defending yourself against an out-of-state DUI charge in Florida, call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900 for a free consultation.