Each year, roughly 5,000 motor vehicle crashes in Florida involve someone driving under the influence. However, this number grossly underrepresents the number of Floridians pulled over and arrested for a DUI yearly. Just how long does a DUI stay on your record in Florida? Unfortunately, it is impossible to expunge a DUI law violation in Florida. If you are convicted, it will remain on your record permanently.
The good news is that you can hire a criminal defense attorney to help prevent a DUI conviction. Keep reading to learn more!
Why Does a DUI on Your Record Matter?
If you have a DUI arrest or conviction on your record, you may face criminal penalties such as:
- Jail time
- License suspension
The same is true for a DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction. Unlike other states, Florida uses the terms DUI and DWI interchangeably.
There are additional consequences that can affect the rest of your life. For instance, you may lose or have difficulty finding a job with a DUI conviction, especially if you previously worked as a professional driver.
Insurance companies are also notorious for raising auto insurance rates after a DUI conviction. After a first conviction, you can expect to pay around 80% more for your car insurance premiums for the next several years. Renting a car also becomes difficult.
Further, some countries prevent travel by those with a DUI conviction. You’ll likely be unable to enter the following countries:
Lastly, in Florida, any criminal offense arrest is a public record. Even if you win your case and have a clean criminal record, the public record of the charge will still exist.
How Many Years does a DUI Felony Stay on Your Record in Florida, and Can You Remove a DUI From Your Record?
If you’re wondering whether you can remove a DUI from your record, the unfortunate truth is that in Florida, it is not possible to expunge a DUI conviction. Unlike some other states, Florida law explicitly prohibits the expungement of records related to DUI charges
Once you have a DUI conviction on your record in Florida, it will remain there indefinitely. This means that a DUI conviction carries long-term consequences and will stay on your record forever.
How Can You Prevent a DUI Conviction?
Fortunately, you can prevent a DUI from staying on your record by preventing a DUI conviction from the beginning. A skilled DUI attorney can help you accomplish this.
When it comes to preventing a DUI conviction and ensuring it does not leave a lasting mark on your record, the key lies in proactive measures and securing the assistance of a skilled DUI attorney. Here’s how they can help:
Lack of Evidence
A knowledgeable DUI attorney will thoroughly assess the evidence the state has against you. If there are weaknesses or gaps in the evidence, your attorney will argue for a lack of sufficient evidence to support a DUI conviction. This can be crucial in persuading the prosecution or the court to reduce or dismiss the charges.
Court Finds You Not Guilty
If your DUI case proceeds to trial, there is a possibility that the court, whether it be a judge or a jury, may ultimately find you not guilty. This outcome occurs when the court determines that the evidence presented by the prosecution fails to establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A not guilty verdict absolves you of the DUI charges and prevents a conviction from being entered on your record.
It is important to understand that the decision to go to trial should be carefully considered in consultation with your DUI attorney. While a trial provides an opportunity to challenge the evidence and present a defense, it also carries certain risks. The outcome is dependent on the judge or jury’s assessment of the evidence, witness credibility, and arguments presented by both the prosecution and defense.
On the other hand, if you choose to pursue a plea bargain, you will be entering into an agreement with the prosecution. This typically involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge or accepting reduced penalties in exchange for avoiding a trial. It is essential to be aware that by entering a plea bargain, you willingly admit guilt and forfeit your right to a trial.
How Can You Prevent a DUI From Staying on Your Record?
Although you cannot expunge a DUI from your record, you may be able to prevent it from remaining through the methods below.
Pre-Trial Diversion Programs
Some facing a first DUI charge are eligible for a diversion program. Once you complete the program, the State Attorney will drop the charge. As a result, it will never appear on your record.
Note that this option is not available in all Florida counties, including Hillsborough.
Reduction of Charge
Hillsborough county has a slightly different program that allows you to reduce the DUI charge down to reckless driving.
You will need to meet all the program conditions in exchange for the State Attorney to lower the charges. The requirements typically include the following:
- Complete DUI school and victim impact panel
- Community service
- Install an initial interlock device (IID)
You can expunge a reckless driving charge in Florida or seal your records. However, it’s also possible to acquire a withhold of adjudication, which means you don’t receive a conviction after pleading guilty.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Florida?
Let’s review the basic penalties for a DUI conviction.
Disclaimer: the DUI laws and penalties below do not apply to those charged with drunk driving under the age of 21 or DUI offenses involving a car crash. They also don’t discuss possible imprisonment, which the court can include in the sentencing terms at its discretion.
The penalties for a first-time DUI conviction are a driver’s license suspension of 6-12 months and a fine of $500 to $1,000.
However, the minimum suspension is three years if someone suffers serious bodily injury.
Additionally, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was above 0.15 or there was a minor present, the fine is $1,000 to $2,000.
Getting a second DUI conviction within five years of the first DUI means the state will revoke your license for a minimum of five years.
If the second conviction is more than five years after the first, the state will abide by the revocation periods for a first offense.
The fine is either $1,000 to $2,000 or $2,000 to $4,000 for a BAC over 0.15 or the presence of a minor.
A third offense within ten years of a second offense leads to a license revocation of at least ten years. The fine is $2,000 to $5,000, or a minimum of $4,000 for a BAC over 0.15 or the presence of a minor.
If the third conviction is more than ten years from the second, the state will abide by the revocation periods for a first offense, but the fine remains the same.
How to Fight DUI Charges
Hiring a DUI lawyer is a must to help build your criminal defense. To fight your DUI case, your defense lawyer will investigate what occurred during the arrest. They may find the following:
- A medical condition artificially raised your BAC
- Poor weather conditions or a medical emergency affected your driving
- The law enforcement officer made an unlawful arrest or didn’t administer the breathalyzer test properly
Hire an Experienced Florida Attorney to Help
Since a DUI is a serious offense and it remains on your record forever, you need to hire a lawyer if arrested for a DUI. Get help now from the law firm of Mike G. Law in Tampa. You can speak directly with a DUI defense attorney during your free consultation.