Non-Jail Options for Florida DUI Cases
If you were arrested for violating Florida’s statute on driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), you probably know that you face many different punishment scenarios. Being a criminal offense, a drunk driving conviction could even lead to jail time depending on the circumstances. The last thing you want is to be incarcerated, since there can be devastating implications for your freedoms, employment, relationships, and reputation. As such, it’s essential to explore non-jail options that may be available in your case.
Unless you have a legal background or a significant amount of time to invest in research, your first priority should be retaining a Florida drunk driving defense attorney to represent you. You can also check out a summary of potential punishment and non-jail alternatives.
Potential Punishment for a DUI Conviction: Many first-time offenders will not spend time in jail, unless you have a prior record or were belligerent with the arresting officer. You’ll still receive a fine, a driver’s license suspension, and other penalties, and there will be a conviction on your criminal record. Still, even for a first-time DUI, you could be looking at incarceration when the circumstances are more serious. Examples include:
- You were driving with an excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .15 percent;
- You caused an accident that led to property damage, injuries, or a fatality;
- You had a minor in the vehicle at the time you were arrested for DUI; or,
- You were in violation of other Florida laws, such as by driving on a suspended license.
Pretrial Diversion May Be an Option: In some cases, you can avoid jail time by going through a process called “pretrial diversion,” which breaks down as follows:
- Pretrial: Your case is resolved before trial, because you’re agreeing to certain terms and conditions imposed by the court.
- Diversion: Your case is diverted from the traditional criminal justice system, instead going through a program similar to probation.
Many of the terms of pretrial diversion are the same as the sentence you would receive for a first-time DUI conviction, including a driver’s license suspension, community service, participation in DUI courses, and others. The difference is that you won’t have a conviction on your record – and you won’t spend time in jail.
Pretrial diversion may sound too good to be true, but there’s one important point: You accept the conditions of the court in exchange for a guilty plea. Therefore, if you violate the terms of the pretrial diversion order, you go straight to sentencing on the guilty plea that you entered.
A Florida DUI Defense Lawyer Can Assist with Alternatives
When you have a skilled drunk driving defense attorney to represent you, you have a better chance of avoiding jail as part of your sentence. However, the eligibility rules are strict and there’s no guarantee that you can take advantage of these options – especially if you try to represent yourself. Instead of putting your rights at risk, please contact Fort Lauderdale DUI attorney Kevin J. Kulik for legal assistance. We can set up a consultation to review your circumstances and determine effective defense strategies.