DUI Law in Fort Myers, FL
What Is a DUI?
DUI, which refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is a criminal offense that can lead to weighty consequences. Also known as DWI, the process of going to court to face either conviction or exoneration can change the course of your life forever.
Learn more about your DUI law defense options below, and then talk to a local attorney in Fort Myers, Florida who will help you in this delicate situation. You don’t have to stare down consequences alone. You can take wise steps today to protect your interests.
Possible Consequences of a Fort Myers, Florida
Where you live, the severity of the incident, and your criminal record determine the sentencing for a DUI. The punishments can drastically increase if you have had previous DUIs, so be mindful of that. If this is your first DUI, do not go at it alone and risk costly mistakes. Get a Fort Myers law firm on your side to fight for you and your rights.
If convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Fort Myers, Florida, you can count on fines being a part of your sentencing. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, DUI fines for a first offense can range from $500 to $1,000. In addition, second and third offenses carry maximum fines of $2,000 and $5,000 respectively. However, while a fourth conviction carries a minimum fine of $2,000, there isn’t a set maximum fine.
However, other factors can drastically increase the amount you must pay, including:
- Any damage to property while driving under the influence
- If someone suffered injuries as a result of your intoxicated driving
- Cases that include child endangerment
- Any court costs associated with your case
Jail time is mandatory, even for first-time offenders in Fort Myers. If this is your first DUI offense, you may only have to face a day or two in prison. But if you have previous convictions for DUIs, you can be sentenced to several months or years, depending on the nature of the crime. Know that some circumstances can add even more time in a cell, including injury to other people while driving under the influence.
If you do not face jail time, you will likely be on probation, with the sentencing judge determining the duration. You will pay monthly fees, and you cannot commit any more criminal offenses, including traffic violations. If you violate the terms of your probation, count on facing time behind bars.
For your first DUI in Fort Myers, Florida, the combination of probation and jail cannot exceed one year. Probation fees for misdemeanors are generally $40 per month. Probation includes 50 hours of mandatory community service in Lee County and may require the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device. Violation of probation is treated as a separate criminal charge. If the violation is deemed willful by the judge, you could spend the rest of your probation in jail. For Fort Myers residents, your probation is managed by the Lee County Probation Department.
Drug and Alcohol Education Program
Following a Fort Myers DUI sentencing, the law states you must complete a drug and alcohol education program. This will teach you about the dangers of driving under the influence. These programs cost more fees besides the legal costs you already have to pay.
You will be ordered to complete DUI School on your first offense in Fort Myers. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles licenses DUI programs that can satisfy this requirement. The Level I course for first-time DUI offenders involves a minimum of 12 hours of classroom instruction. The Level II course, for multiple offenses, involves a minimum of 21 hours of classroom instruction. Programs can cost anywhere from $280 to $425. A list of state-certified programs, including locations in Fort Myers, can be found on the Florida DMV website. Reinstatement requires paying administrative fees, revocation fees and all license fees. All these fees could amount to $500 or more.
The education programs also include a DUI evaluation. An evaluator asks you questions about how alcohol and drugs affect your life. If they believe that you are dependent, you may have to enter a substance abuse treatment program.
Suspension or Loss of License
No matter where you may face a DUI conviction, you have to undergo a license suspension period, at the very least. If it is your first DUI, you may have a license suspension for a few months while you go through probation and the drug and alcohol education program.
If this is not your first DUI, you may have your license suspended for much longer, or you could have it taken from you permanently.
What Should You Do When Charged With a DUI in Fort Myers, Florida?
If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, you must take the following steps to protect yourself:
Step 1: Contact an Attorney Familiar With DUI Law
Immediately following your DUI arrest, you need to contact an experienced Fort Myers DUI attorney. Your attorney can help prepare for your arraignment and prepare a defense to vindicate yourself or reduce the sentencing.
Step 2: Learn About Your Local DUI Laws
Fort Myers, Florida has unique laws for DUI or DWI charges. Your lawyer will work with you to help you better understand your state’s laws on driving while intoxicated. It is critical to understand what charges you face and the potential outcomes of your case.
Step 3: Request a DMV Hearing
You or your attorney should request a hearing as soon as possible following your arrest. In Fort Myers, Florida you only have so much time to ask for a DMV hearing to keep your license until your court appearance. If you do not request a hearing, prepare for a license suspension.
Your license will be confiscated upon arrest for a DUI in Fort Myers, Florida. The officer will issue a temporary permit that is valid for 10 days from the date of arrest. Consequently, you have only 10 calendar days to request a hearing from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. You must include a $25 filing fee with your request. If you live in Fort Myers, you will typically have your hearing at the Lee County Bureau of Administrative Reviews Office.
Step 4: Prepare for Court Appearance
You and your attorney will prepare for your appearance and arraignment in Fort Myers. If you plead “not guilty,” your DUI defense attorney represents you in court, and a judge and jury oversee the DUI law case.
Step 5: Receive Sentencing or Exoneration
You will either be “not guilty” of the charges brought against you and walk free, or you will receive sentencing for a guilty verdict.
Work with an Experienced Local DUI Lawyer in Fort Myers, Florida
Should you ever find yourself charged with a DUI, you need to work with an experienced Fort Myers lawyer who can stand up for you in court. You cannot clear your name of the charges or reduce the consequences without help. Your life and future depend on having great legal representation during your DUI case. Contact an attorney near you today. We can even help you connect with legal help across Florida state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!