No matter where you live in the United States, a DUI arrest is a very serious matter. Every state has strict laws prohibiting drunk or drugged driving because of the universal sense of tragedy when someone is seriously injured or killed in an alcohol-related accident.
In Florida, even a first offense DUI conviction could result in a permanent public record, a lengthy license suspension, fines, community service, and possibly even jail.
If you are charged with DUI or Refusal anywhere near Tampa or St. Pete, Florida, get immediate DUI legal representation from a criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience successfully defending DUI and other intoxicated driving-related cases.
Other States’ DUI Laws and Penalties Vary
If you are convicted of a DUI or a chemical test refusal in another state, that state’s laws will determine what the main penalties and other consequences will be. The sentences imposed for a first offense DUI vary from one state to another.
For example, a first offense DUI in Pennsylvania with a BAC between .08 and .10 carries no jail and no minimum mandatory license suspension. But in Oregon, a first offense DUI includes a mandatory minimum of 48 hours in jail or 80 hours of community service in addition to one-year license suspension fines and other penalties.
Florida Law — Reciprocal License Suspension for Out-of-State DUIs
Florida joined with 45 other states and the District of Columbia in enacting the Interstate Driver’s License Compact and the Non-Resident Violator Compact which oblige every participating state to exchange information relating to any driver’s moving violations, from speeding tickets to DUIs and Chemical or Breath Test Refusals, and to enforce driver’s home state license suspensions equal to the one imposed by the state in which the offense occurred.
These interstate compacts were entered into because before their enactment, drivers who were found guilty or plead nolo to DUI or other lesser driving offenses would suffer sanctions and a suspension of their driver’s license only in the offense state and then return to their home state with a chance that the foreign state conviction would not be discovered. Some states shared the information and others did not. In fact, some drivers were licensed in more than one state. When one license was suspended, the other state’s license would often remain active.
During those pre-interstate-compact years, whether your home state imposed a reciprocal driving suspension or did not was a matter of luck. When the breadth of the problem was recognized, and with the availability of the easily shared National Driver Register databases, reports of out-of-state driving violations are routinely communicated to the driver’s home state to make sure the suspension can’t be evaded.
NOTE: Florida also counts out-of-state DUI and Refusal convictions as prior offenses if the driver is later charged with DUI or Refusal in Florida.
When Does Florida NOT Honor Out-of-State License Suspensions?
There are some circumstances in which Florida does not automatically impose a reciprocal license suspension.
If a driver is charged in Florida with DUI, their driver’s license is automatically suspended 10 days after their DUI arrest. If a driver files a petition within those 10 days to prevent the license suspension, they may obtain some relief. That’s why hiring an experienced DUI lawyer right away is so important. If the driver refused to take the breathalyzer test, their license to drive is suspended immediately.
However, if you are arrested and charged with DUI in another state, and the state orders the suspension of your license before your case is resolved, Florida will not follow the preliminary administrative suspension order. Instead, Florida waits until the charge is sustained, either by an admission of guilt or by a guilty finding after a trial. If the Florida licensee prevails in the DUI case in the foreign state, then Florida has no grounds to impose any suspension.
Another instance in which Florida will not impose an out-of-state suspension of a Florida driver’s license is when Florida’s corresponding statute covering the particular offense does not include license suspension as part of the Florida penalty.
States Where First Offense DUI Will Not Result in Florida License Suspension
In several states, the penalty for a first offense DUI does not include suspending a driver’s license. Since the foreign state does not impose a license suspension, Florida has no obligation nor any grounds to suspend the Florida license at home.
States that do not impose a license suspension for first offense DUI are listed here:
- New Hampshire
- New York
- North Dakota
Florida Will Honor Out-of-State License Suspensions Longer Than Florida Statute Imposes
Just as Florida will not act against a Florida driver’s license if the foreign state does not suspend a first offense DUI driver’s license, Florida will honor a foreign state’s license suspension even if the period of suspension is longer than would be imposed under Florida law.
In Florida, the penalty for a first offense DUI includes a 6-month suspension of your driver’s license in addition to other sanctions. However, there are several states in which a DUI first offense carries a mandatory minimum period of suspension much longer than Florida’s statute requires.
If you are convicted of a DUI in one of these states, Florida will suspend your driver’s license for the length of time required in the foreign state.
This is a list of states where a first offense DUI conviction carries a minimum license suspension longer than Florida law requires:
- Connecticut — 1 year
- Delaware — 1 year
- Massachusetts — 1 year
- Oregon — 1 year
- Tennessee — 1 year
- Virginia — 1 year
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Get the Best DUI Defense Lawyers You Can in Tampa and St. Petersburg
No matter where you are facing DUI or Refusal charges, you need to contact the best criminal defense lawyers to fight what could become a permanent stain on your public record and to prevent the court from imposing expensive sanctions, fines, and even jail that you don’t deserve.
Our DUI defense lawyers have earned years of valuable experience successfully defending alcohol and drug-related driving offenses in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. Don’t settle for less. Contact Stechschulte Nell today; 813-280-1244.