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Some States Impose Harsher DUI Penalties

December 21, 2015 • DUI Defense

The offense of driving while impaired can result in criminal charges nationwide. However, the consequences can differ dramatically depending on the location where the drunk driving was alleged to occur. Each state sets its own laws to punish people convicted of drunk driving and some states are far harsher than others.

Florida ranks 21st in terms of how strict it is, so Floridians accused of impaired driving will face harsher penalties than people in more than half of all other locations in the United States. If you are arrested for impaired driving, you need to ensure you take steps to try to fight for your future -- especially in light of the harsh penalties you will face. A DUI lawyer can provide assistance in exploring all of your options, including plea bargaining and raising defenses in court, to try to avoid being found guilty.

Florida Imposes Harsher DUI Penalties Than Half of All States

Wallet Hub recently conducted a comparison of DUI penalties across every state in the country. A number of different metrics were compared, including minimum jail terms for first and second offenses; situations where DUI is charged as an automatic felony; whether a vehicle is impounded; and whether an automatic administrative suspension of a driver's license was imposed by the DMV upon a failed BAC test or DUI arrest. Other factors were also considered, including the length of time DUI convictions count against you, when ignition interlock devices are required, additional penalties for a high BAC, the length of a license suspension and fines for DUI offenses.

Based on the metrics, Arizona was found to be the strictest state in the country, while Florida tied with Nevada as the 21st most strict state in the country.  Florida was more lenient than many other locations in that no minimum jail sentence is required for a first offense; however, Florida has a minimum 10-day jail sentence for second offenses that occur within five years of the first offense. The state also has a lengthy license suspension period, an administrative license suspension policy and other penalties that are more serious than many other states. These penalties can change your life, so you need to take DUI charges seriously.

It is also important for Floridians and for visitors to the state to realize that DUI consequences will follow them home. If you are charged with impaired driving while visiting Florida and your license is suspended, you will not be able to drive in your home state and you will have to return to Florida to face a trial and possible jail time. Likewise, if you are a Florida resident who lives elsewhere, you can end up with a suspended license in Florida as a result of a DUI in another location.

Anyone in Florida who is charged with DUI needs to understand the severity of the consequences and aggressively fight the charges to try to avoid a guilty verdict or at least reduce the possible consequences. Call a Panama City DUI defense attorney now to get assistance developing a legal strategy and fight to protect your driving record and your freedom.