First DUI in Polk County, FL

If you were arrested for a first DUI in Polk County, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. First DUI cases are treated differently in Polk County.

The goal in these cases is avoiding the administrative suspension of your driver’s license by demanding a “formal review hearing” within 10 days of the arrest. Call us to find out why we ALWAYS recommend demanding the “formal review hearing” within 10 days.

We can help you obtain a 42-day driving permit at the Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR) office in Tampa, FL, so that you can keep driving while we fight the administrative suspension.

Other people might recommend that you waive all your rights and stipulate to the administrative “on-the-spot” suspension remaining on your driving record for the next 75 years, but we take a different approach by ALWAYS recommending that our clients demand the “formal review hearing.”

Read our case results to find out more about how we fight DUI charges – click here to read our recent DUI case results.

We can also represent you in court as we fight to avoid a DUI conviction. Many DUI cases are dropped to less serious charges such as reckless driving, especially for a first DUI when the person has no prior record.

Attorneys for a First DUI in Polk County, FL

When the stakes are high, the attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients arrested for a first DUI throughout Polk County, FL. Depending on where the arrest occurred, these cases are prosecuted at the courthouse in either Bartow or Winter Haven, FL.

For any arrest in Polk County, FL, the formal review hearings take place at the Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR) office in Tampa, FL.

Although some people might tell you to waive your rights to contest the administrative suspension, find our why we ALWAYS recommend having a formal review hearing to contest the administrative suspension. The formal review hearing is often the most important part of the case and it occurs within 42 days of the arrest.

Call us to discuss your case at 813-250-0500.

Types of First DUI Charges in Polk County, FL

A person is guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) if a person drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle and the person:

  • has a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath;
  • has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or
  • is under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any controlled substance set forth in s. 877.111, F.S., or any substance controlled under ch. 893, F.S., to the extent that the person’s normal faculties are impaired.

The criminal penalties for DUI vary depending on numerous factors listed in Section 316.193 F.S. including:

  • the number of prior convictions;
  • the length of time between convictions;
  • whether the defendant’s blood alcohol level of .15 or above;
  • whether a child passenger was in the vehicle at the time of the offense; or
  • whether a crash occurred causing either property damage or injury.

Although the vast majority of DUI cases are misdemeanors, the DUI becomes a felony for a third offense within ten (10) year of any prior or for any fourth or subsequent offense.

Even for a first DUI, if a crash occurred that resulted in serious bodily injury or death, then you can be charged with a serious felony offense including:

  • DUI with serious bodily injury, third-degree felony; or
  • DUI manslaughter, a second-degree felony.

The most serious penalties are reserved for anyone who left the scene of the crime in a hit and run case that resulted in injury or death.

Penalties for a First DUI Conviction in Florida

The penalties for the typical first time DUI offense include:

  • a period of probation not exceeding twelve (12) months;
  • a fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000;
  • up to six (6) months imprisonment in the county jail;
  • at least fifty (50) hours of community service;
  • a requirement that you complete DUI school and any recommended follow up treatment;
  • a mandatory ten (10) day vehicle immobilization or impoundment; and
  • a court-ordered driver’s license suspension for six (6) to twelve (12) months.

DUI charges in Florida are particularly serious because Section 316.656, F.S., prohibits a court from withholding adjudication of guilt for any violation of s. 316.193, F.S., a DUI offense. This means, if you are convicted of DUI, you can never seal or expunge the record.

On the other hand, if the DUI is reduced to reckless and the court agrees to withhold adjudication, then you will be able to seal the record if you are otherwise eligible.

Level One DUI School in Polk County

Talk with your attorney about whether you should enroll in Level I DUI school after the arrest. Level One DUI school is required after a first DUI arrest if either:

  • the administrative suspension is not invalidated during the formal review hearing; or
  • you are convicted of DUI in court; or
  • your case is reduced to reckless driving but the completion of DUI school is required as a special condition of probation.

In some cases, your DUI defense attorney might want you to voluntarily complete DUI school upfront so that a better plea deal can be negotiated.

Anyone who lives or works in Polk County can enroll in DUI school at the Tri-County Human Services, Inc., located at 1815 Crystal Lake Drive in Lakeland, FL.

The DUI Program of the Tri-County Human Services, Inc., is licensed by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), according to Administrative Code 15A-10.

Level I DUI School includes twelve (12) hours of classroom instruction and a one (1) hour substance abuse evaluation. Follow up treatment might be required, especially for a first DUI with a breath/blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or above, a child passenger, or a crash causing property damage or injury.

If you have a prior DUI arrest or conviction or if you have ever attended DUI school in the past, then you must enroll in Level II DUI school. Enrolling in Level I DUI school is only allowed for a first DUI.

The fees for Level 1 DUI School is $295.45. This fee includes a $5.95 card payment fee and a $7.00 online processing fee. All fees are paid to “Tri-County Human Services, Inc. DUI Program.”

Keep in mind that all fees paid to the TCHS DUI Program are non-refundable (even if your administrative suspension is invalidated and you are found “not guilty” of DUI at trial).

If you decide to waive your right to a formal review hearing and stipulate to the administrative suspension remaining on your driving record for the next 75 years (not recommended) then the BAR requires additional registration information, including proof of class assignment before you can obtain the 10-day Eligibility Review For Restricted DL/Waiver.

This article was last updated on Monday, December 31, 2018.