Lakeland DUI Attorney and Criminal Law Firm

A DUI / DWI is not like any other traffic ticket. The State of Florida considers it a serious criminal offense. Experienced and knowledgeable representation must be in  your corner after you have been charged with this crime.

DUI / DWI and the law

One issue that is often important to discuss with a DUI lawyer is the issue of implied consent, as discussed in the testing provisions of the State Uniform Traffic Control statutes (“Tests for alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances; implied consent; refusal”: Title XXIII, Chapter 316.1932). The implied consent laws require people to take tests to gauge blood-alcohol level (BAL). If you do not agree to take a breath test, that evidence can be submitted by the prosecution during your court case.

It is wise to contact a DUI / DWI attorney immediately after you are charged with this crime. The attorney will defend you using their knowledge of the above testing provisions, along with other major factors such as the description of the crime and the delineation of penalties (“Driving under the influence; penalties”: Title XXIII, Chapter 316.193), rules for commercial vehicle operators (“Driving under the influence; commercial motor vehicle operators”: Title XXIII, Chapter 322.62), and the reckless driving provisions (“Reckless driving”: Title XXIII, Chapter 316.192).

Although it’s common for someone charged with a crime to feel vulnerable and unsure, DUI lawyer Art Fulmer, Jr., can create a solid defense with evidence such as:

  • Faulty equipment for testing BAL
  • Testing designed incompetently
  • Lack of officer experience
  • Mistakes made during the arrest

If you need a DUI / DWI lawyer, Art Fulmer, Jr., has represented many clients in your position and has repeatedly been successful defending them against their criminal charges.


DUI is the acronym for driving under the influence of certain drugs and/or high quantities of alcohol. According to Florida law (s. 316.193, FSA), it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle when your normal faculties are impaired.

Specifically, DUI meaning has been established by Florida lawmakers as a single criminal offense in which a person shows signs of physiological impairment or alcohol levels within the breath or bloodstream that are at or higher than .08%. Regardless whether a person is charged based on observation or specific measurement, the penalties are identical. Within the context of DUI definition, that percentage refers to a .08 blood/breath alcohol level (BAL). Florida law also creates a special category, with enhanced penalties, for anyone with a minor in the car or whose BAL measures .15 or above.

Many people also wonder, “What happens if you get a DUI?” The accused party (the person arrested) is held in jail until their first court appearance. The judge will read the affidavit from the arresting officer to determine if there is probable cause. Usually the judge finds probable cause and then issues a bond, after which the defendant is given a bond and released, provided that the bond (a.k.a. bail) is paid.

You may wonder what to do when you get a DUI. You do not plead guilty or not guilty at your first court appearance, and you are not usually appointed a lawyer at that time. You can, however, hire an attorney to represent you for this initial stage.

In essence, the answer regarding what to do if you get a DUI is to act fast. A DUI is extremely time-sensitive (with only 10 days to request an administrative review hearing), so it is important you contact us immediately after release if you haven’t done so while in custody. The administrative penalties are assessed to your driver license, and you want to address those immediately.

In the state of Florida, the first conviction for DUI carries with it the below penalties. Note that although this list and those for additional offenses are thorough, you should contact me right away for a comprehensive explanation and additional parameters (including those for DUI Manslaughter and Chemical/Physical Test Provisions). Penalties include:

  • Fines – You must pay the State of Florida between $500 and $1000 in fines. If your blood alcohol level falls within the enhanced penalty range, the minimum fine is between $1000 and $2000.
  • Community service – For a first conviction of DUI, you must perform community service totaling 50 hours. Alternately, the fine may be raised up to $500 ($10 per hour) to account for this requirement.
  • Probation – Probation can last a maximum of twelve months, but that also includes any time that is spent in jail.
  • Imprisonment – If convicted, you may be sentenced to a total of six months for a standard offense and up to twelve months with the enhanced penalty. However, the court may decide that you can spend part or all that time in an addiction rehabilitation center.
  • Impoundment – The consequences of a first DUI will also typically include impoundment of your vehicle for 10 days, provided that it is not the sole form of transportation for your family.
  • License revocation – Your driver’s license will also be revoked after a first DUI conviction. The period of time during which you must forgo driving privileges will be between six and twelve months.
  • Education – Another punishment for a first DUI is an informational course. You can potentially have your driver license reinstated during the revocation due to hardship, but that requires completion of the training program. After the revocation span has elapsed, you still must enroll in a DUI class in order to have your license reinstated.

As stated (on the “What Happens for Your First DUI Offense?” page), a first DUI fine is a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $1000, assuming it is a standard offense. If a minor is onboard or with a BAL at .15 or above, the fine for a first DUI is a minimum of $1000 and a maximum of $2000.

As stated (on the “What Happens for Your First DUI Offense?” page), for a first conviction of DUI, the penalties are manifold and subject to mandatory minimum sentencing. Punishment for a first DUI can include fines, community service, probation, imprisonment, impoundment of your vehicle, revocation of your license, and the completion of a DUI instructional course.

The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) places the average DUI cost at at least $8000 (an aggregate of legal fines, attorney’s fees, and auto insurance rate adjustments).

First DUI offenses in Florida generally result in fines of $500 to $1000.

Second DUI offenses can lead to $1000 to $2000 in fines.

Third DUI offenses result in fines of $2000 to $5000.

Additional requirements, such as license suspension, mandatory participation in DUI classes, alcohol and drug treatment, use of the state ignition interlock device (IID), and imprisonment may also be applicable.


Usually a first or second offense is a DUI misdemeanor. Often a third DUI is also a misdemeanor.

Anyone who commits a misdemeanor DUI and destroys property or injures someone is charged with a First Degree Misdemeanor.

The three situations in which the crime is considered a DUI felony include:

  • Conviction of a fourth DUI (at any point in life).
  • Conviction of a third DUI within 10 years of the second DUI offense.
  • DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, and, in some cases, when the driver seriously harms other people.

Florida has a Zero Tolerance law for teen drunk driving, so license suspension will occur after the teen blows a just a .02 blood alcohol level (BAL) on a breathalyzer.

Here are the penalties for anyone under the age of 21:

  • First suspension – 6 months
  • Second suspension – 1 year

Similar to the enhanced offense for older drivers, if teen drinking and driving occurs with the BAL at .05 or above, the individual must complete a substance abuse course before the driving suspension is lifted.

After a DUI arrest, you will have only a 10-day temporary driver license. You have this short window, just 10 days, to request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension once you are released. Your criminal law attorney will handle all of the paperwork to request the hearing, since subpoenas will be issued. It is extremely important to contact a lawyer right away because of this 10-day window. A DUI is unlike any other crime due to this time restraint. A court-appointed lawyer is not able to assist you in this manner because they do not practice this area of the law.

Once you receive your hearing date in the mail, your temporary driving privilege is extended up to 30 days.

At the hearing, your lawyer will contest the legitimacy of the license suspension and you could possible get your license back.

If you blow over the legal limit, which is .08 in Florida, your license is revoked and suspended for 6 months. If you refuse to blow into the police officer’s breathalyzer, your license is revoked, and it is suspended for 1 year. This type of license suspension is called an administrative suspension. You may be able to obtain a temporary driving permit for the 10-day period, which is discussed on this page. For information on additional convictions, start here.

DUI expungement is only possible in Florida for one charge. If your DUI charge lead to a conviction, you cannot expunge it. Since you have to be adjudicated on a DUI in Florida, you could move to have it sealed.

If you have not yet been convicted of DUI, it is possible for a criminal law attorney to successfully negotiate to have it reduced to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving. If there is an evidentiary problem (e.g. no probable cause for the initial traffic stop) or if the state can’t prove the DUI, the charge will likely be reduced. Usually the defense for DUI is based on a pretrial evidentiary problem or lack of proof of faculty impairment.

DUI, like all criminal convictions, stays on your record forever, unless you have it sealed or expunged. There is a form to download with instructions on how to have your record sealed or expunged on the Polk County Sheriff’s website and/or the FDLE website.

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