Do you always have to lose your license after a drunk driving arrest? That’s the question on the minds of millions who occasionally drink alcohol. Because US states have widely differing drunk driving laws, it’s impossible to answer the query without knowing to which state it applies.
However, Florida criminal lawyer Christopher Hersem understands the implications of drunk driving arrests because he has handled hundreds of such cases. In Florida, the drunk driving laws tend to be stricter than they are in other US states. This means that it is completely possible for a person to lose his or her drivers license after getting convicted for drunk driving.
Drunk Driving Laws
To use Florida as an example, especially considering its tougher than normal driving laws, one can easily see that there are harsh repercussions for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The general answer to the question above is a yes, at least in Florida and about twenty other US states.
But the strategy employed by most criminal attorneys who deal with drunk driving issues is to avoid a guilty plea in the first place. This can be achieved by pleading to a lesser offense that does not mandate loss of license, such as the “wet reckless” in Florida terminology. Other states have similar plea bargain routes for those who are borderline inebriated or on the cusp of having enough alcohol in their systems for conviction.
It should be noted, however, that when a Florida driver is able to keep his or her drivers license by plea bargaining down to a wet reckless charge, a subsequent drunk driving arrest can be problematic. The court could look back at the prior wet reckless plea and consider it the legal equivalent of a drunk driving conviction. This could mean both a much harsher sentence and a significant financial penalty for the defendant.
It is important for Florida residents to know that there are four separate ways of punishing people convicted of driving under the influence (DUI is the term used in Florida and many other states).
First, there are jail and prison sentences, which range from no time all the way up to five years, depending on whether the conviction is a first, second, or third offense.
Second, there are hefty financial penalties for DUI convictions. They range from a minimum of $500 up to $5,000 for a third offense. Note that there is no way to avoid a financial penalty because the $500 level is the minimum for a first offense. The only way to avoid paying is to plea bargain down to a lesser offense.
Third, convicted defendants face loss of license. This category of punishment ranges from a minimum of 180 days (or six months) to a maximum of ten years for a third offense. Again, note that the minimum is 180 days, which means that even for a first offense, a defendant will have to endure life without a drivers license for six months unless there is a lesser-offense plea-bargain agreement.
Finally, every DUI conviction in Florida means that the defendant has to place an interlock ignition device on his or her car for a set period of time. The so-called IID is a device that is essentially a small breathalyzer gadget that measures the driver’s blood alcohol level before allowing the car to start.