Anyone who thinks a Florida DUI conviction is not that big a deal has never had to pay the true costs of even a DUI first offense. When websites list the penalties that can be imposed by the court after a DUI conviction, the list usually doesn’t include all the expenses you don’t think of until you start to pay for them.
In this blog post, we will illustrate how many hidden costs are associated with a DUI conviction in Florida. We hope you see that hiring the most skilled DUI defense lawyers to prevent DUI convictions is the best investment you can make in a bad situation.
Fines, Fees, and Assessments
The Florida statute criminalizing DUI lays out what basic fines and fees will be imposed by the court for a DUI conviction:
1st Offense (BAC under 0.15)
- Fines $500 to $1,000
- Penalty Assessment $600
- FL. Restitution Fund $100
- Alcohol Abuse Education $ 50
- Chemical Test Fee $ 37
- Jail Release Fee $ 10
- Driving Alcohol Fee $200
- License Reinstate Fee $175
- Attorney Fee $2,500 (minimum) to $4,500
- Insurance Rate Hike $3,300 to $6,000
STANDARD COST RANGE = $4,172.00 to $6,472.00
These are the costs of a simple first offense DUI before counting the costs you didn’t think of. The list shown above assumes there was No Refusal of Chemical Tests, No Accident, No Injury, No Property Damage, and No Child in the Car. Any one of those additional factors would significantly increase virtually all the costs shown in the standard cost list.
Indirect Costs You Don’t See Coming
Other costs of a 1st Offense DUI that you might not anticipate can dwarf those that you expect. Many first-time DUI defendants are released from custody without needing to post any substantial bail.
Bail is sometimes required to be posted in cases where there is a risk of a defendant fleeing the jurisdiction due to the threat of more certain or longer jail time. This may be because the defendant is a repeat offender, the case involved some aggravating facts, or the defendant is from out of state. A bail bond may be needed to pay a high bail.
Bondsmen typically charge a fee of 10% to post the bond required by the court. If your bail is set at $10,000 or $15,000 and you can’t post that money yourself, a bondsman will post it for you if you pay them $1,000 or $1,500. That bonding fee is not refundable. If the bail is declared forfeit because you failed to appear for court when scheduled, the bondsman will look to you to pay the remaining 90% of the bail amount.
License Suspension Related Costs
One part of Florida’s DUI and Chemical Refusal penalty is a minimum period of driver’s license suspension. While a DUI first offense carries a minimum 6-month suspension, a Refusal charge imposes a minimum 12-month suspension.
You may petition for a hardship license to enable you to drive to work but obtaining that permit will require a timely filing of necessary documents and a hearing at which you may wish to be represented by an experienced lawyer. These attorney fees are not included in a standard DUI criminal defense.
The additional cost would likely cost at least $750 and $1,500.
No License? Expenses for Getting Around Adds Up Fast
If you are unable to obtain a hardship driver’s permit, how will you get around?
Some lucky defendants may live and work on a bus line. Otherwise, a family member may be available and willing to taxi you to and from work. If those arrangements are not available to you, other options include Uber or Lyft, taxi cabs, a bicycle, or walking. Paying for ridesharing or hiring a taxi will quickly become a financial burden you didn’t expect.
If your job requires that you drive, your employer might be able to transfer you to another position during your license suspension. If your company has no alternative position, you could lose your job entirely.
For many DUI defendants, no license means no job.
Insurance Premium Hike
DUI charges terrify insurance companies. Some first-time DUI defendants receive cancellation notices from their insurers even if they are longtime customers. If your policy is not canceled, you will certainly be notified that your premium will be raised by approximately $1,000 for at least three years.
Why the rate increase? An insurance company raises rates on convicted DUI drivers because they fear what will happen next. If your first DUI involved substantial property damage or a personal injury, cancelation will almost certainly follow. Your insurer knows that another DUI or similar driving offense could involve an extremely costly personal injury claim by a victim of your next DUI accident.
Do You Have a Professional or Occupational License?
It may sound unlikely that someone’s professional license could be threatened by having a DUI. But would you feel confident if your surgeon had a DUI that may indicate an alcohol use disorder, alcoholism, or some other substance addiction? State boards that oversee the licensing of certain professionals become very concerned when one of their licensees becomes involved in a situation displaying personal irresponsibility, especially if it relates to substance use.
Lawyers are also very likely to be summoned before the Florida Bar Division of Lawyer Regulation if they are convicted of DUI. This and other professional boards may insist that the professional license holder participates in long-term counseling. In some cases, the DUI driver’s alcohol or drug dependence could require residential treatment.
Probation Supervision Costs and Regular Random Chemical Tests
Probation supervision comes with a mandatory fee and urine tests are paid for by the person being tested. What’s more disruptive than just the costs of probation supervision and urine or breath tests is their randomness.
Probation officers can visit you at any time, without warning, even at work. While they do try to avoid drawing attention at your workplace, they may do so if necessary. Scheduled meetings with your probation officer can conflict with your work hours, causing your employer to resent your absences.
If you know when your breath or urine will be tested for alcohol or drugs, you could take steps to flush your system or refrain from drinking the day of the test. To defeat these evasive measures, urine tests are random and can be demanded on short notice. These sudden demands for samples to be tested often require late work arrivals or early departures, again, testing your employer’s patience.
Successful Defense Against DUI Charges Is the Most Cost Effective Investment
The only way to avoid most of these unexpected, persistent costs is to win your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.
Defeating the prosecution’s case means attacking the evidence:
- No reason for a traffic stop
- Improperly administered field sobriety tests
- No probable cause to arrest
- Improper verbal warnings
- Uncertified breathalyzer machine
- Pre-breathalyzer procedures not followed
- Breath test improperly administered
Don’t risk an unending stream of unexpected financial costs down the road. Get the best DUI defense lawyers available in the Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater area.
Call Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law at 813-280-1244 for a DUI case review today.