First DUI in Florida

Being arrested for DUI is a shocking, embarrassing, and stressful experience. After you get out of jail, the search for the right attorney begins.

The stakes are high because a DUI conviction will be a permanent mark on your criminal record. A conviction for DUI means you can never seal or expunge the arrest record. Additionally, a DUI conviction will cause a dramatic increase in your car insurance premiums as well as cause other expensive indirect consequences that can last a lifetime.

The best way to avoid these consequences is to hire an attorney to contest the administrative suspension of your driver’s license through a formal review hearing and to fight the criminal charge in court. If you can avoid a DUI or reckless driving conviction, then you might be eligible to seal or expunge the record (assuming you have never been convicted of any other crime in Florida).

Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in DUI Cases.

Especially for a first offense, it is important to consider the pros and cons of entering a DUI diversion program. In Hillsborough County, “RIDR” or the “Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism” is the new diversion program that became effective on March 1, 2018.

An attorney can help you determine whether you are eligible for the diversion program, the best ways to complete the sanctions as quickly as possible, and the reasons you might be better off fighting the charges.

Attorneys for the First DUI in Tampa, FL

At Sammis Law Firm, the attorneys in our office focus on fighting DUI cases in Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, FL. The best results are getting the charges dropped or at least reduced to the less serious offense of reckless driving.

We also help clients understand the possible benefits of completing enhanced sanctions in order to enter the DUI diversion program called RIDR in Hillsborough County, FL.

After a DUI arrest in Tampa or Hillsborough County, FL, you have two cases pending against you.

  • Civil Case – The first case is the civil case with the DMV in which they are trying to administratively suspend your driver’s license immediately after your arrest.
  • Criminal Case – The second case is the criminal accusation pending against you in County Court for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you fight both cases. Call 813-250-0500 today to discuss your case.

Administrative Suspension After a First DUI Arrest

After the arrest, the officer will seize your driver’s license and give you a 10-day driving permit. If you do nothing, your driver’s license will be suspended for the following time period depending on whether you took the breath test or not:

  • Breath Test: If you took the breath test and blew over a .08, then your Florida driver’s license will be suspended for six (6) months with a thirty (30) day hard suspension; and
  • Refused Testing: If you refused to take the breath, blood, or urine test, then your Florida driver’s license will be suspended for twelve (12) months with a ninety (90) day hard suspension.

You can fight this administrative suspension by hiring an attorney to request a formal review hearing within 10 days after the arrest. The request for the hearing will entitle you to a 42-day driving permit so that you can continue driving while your attorney fights the suspension.

If you win the hearing, the suspension is REMOVED from your driving record completely (as if it never happened). On the other hand, if you lose the hearing because the hearing officer refuses to invalidate the suspension, then your hard suspension period will begin once your 42-day driving permit expires.

Find out more about why it might be in your best interest to fight the administrative suspension of your driver’s license – “How to Demand a Formal Review Hearing within 10 Days of the DUI Arrest.”

Criminal Penalties for a First DUI in Florida

A first DUI is a misdemeanor. Although it is often classified as a hybrid between a first degree and second-degree misdemeanor, it has a slew of minimum mandatory penalties not imposed for other types of misdemeanors.

Listed below are the First DUI minimum mandatory statutory penalties that must be imposed by the Court unless you avoid the first DUI conviction:

  • Jail Time or Incarceration: Up to six (6) months in the Hillsborough County Jail (if the BAL is .15 or higher or a minor was in the vehicle then the jail time is up to nine (9) months);
  • Terms of Probation: Up to twelve (12) months (however the total period of probation and incarceration may not exceed 12 months);
  • Community Service: Mandatory 50 hours of community service (but the court may allow you to buy out a portion of the community service hours at a rate of $10 per hour);
  • Fine: The required fine for a first DUI in Florida is between $500 and $1,000 (with a BAL of .15 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not less than $1,000, or more than $2,000;
  • Driver License Revocation Period: A minimum of six (6) months and a maximum of twelve (12) months (which is in addition to any administrative or “on the spot” suspension imposed immediately after the arrest);
  • Business Purposes Only or Employment Purposes Only Reinstatements: Requires the driver complete DUI school and then apply for hearing for possible hardship reinstatement;
  • Vehicle impoundment or immobilization: Unless the family of the defendant has no other transportation the Court must impose ten (10) days of vehicle immobilization which cannot be served at the same time as the jail term (exception for vehicles operated solely by the employees of the defendant or any business owned by the defendant);
  • DUI School: Level I twelve (12) hour class which includes a substance abuse evaluation and requires completion of any recommended follow-up treatment before any hardship reinstatement (if reinstated after revocation period expires, failure to complete DUI school within 90 days after reinstatement will result in license cancellation); and
  • Ignition Interlock Device: Not required unless Court ordered (except Court is required to order the ignition interlock device for six (6) months if the BAC was .15 or higher or a minor was in the vehicle).

If you have been arrested for a First DUI in Hillsborough County, FL, contact a Tampa DUI Attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the particular facts, the best way to avoid the typical penalties, and the circumstances of your case.

Reinstating Your Driving Privilege After a First DUI Conviction in Florida

After a first DUI conviction, at the time you apply for reinstatement of your driving privilege, you must show proof of liability coverage or FR-44 insurance, pay an administrative fee of $115, a reinstatement fee of $60, and a driver’s license fee.

You must personally appear at the DHSMV Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR) office to obtain a hardship license. Because the BAR is experiencing significant delays in scheduling hardship hearings, your attorney can help you obtain a 45 day temporary permit immediately after the conviction in court. In other words, you should be able to leave the courtroom and go directly to the BAR to obtain a 45 day hardship license the same day.

To obtain the 45 day hardship license for a first DUI, you must present an “order of reinstatement” pursuant to Section 322.282(2)(a) and the order must be signed by the judge. The order of reinstatement often provides:


On ______day of ________, 2022, this Court adjudicated the below-named Defendant guilty of DUI and has granted this order of reinstatement pursuant to Florida Statute Section 322.282(2)(a). Defendant may use this order of reinstatement, along with proof of completion of a DUI School and a written request for a hearing pursuant to statute 322.271, to obtain a temporary driver permit from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (hereinafter “the department”), if otherwise eligible.

According to , the department shall issue a temporary driver permit to a licensee who presents the court’s order of reinstatement, proof of completion of a department-approved driver training or substance abuse education course, and a written request for a hearing under s. 322.271, if otherwise eligible.

Therefore, pursuant to Florida Statute Section 322.282(2)(a), it is ordered that the department shall issue a temporary permit if the Defendant presents the aforementioned documents and is otherwise eligible.


Judge’s Signature


Driver’s Name


Driver’s Date of Birth


Driver’s License Number


Court Case Number



* The driver should submit this form, all other sentencing paperwork and the completed Application for Hardship Hearing to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Bureau of Administrative Review office at the time of the driver’s hardship hearing.

Effect of a First DUI Conviction on a CDL Holder

What happens if a CDL Holder or commercial driver enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of DUI in Florida? The first DUI plea will result in the DHSMV triggering a one-year administrative disqualification.

Sometimes the Defendant doesn’t know that the DUI plea will cause the collateral revocation, suspension, or disqualification of the commercial driver’s license. (Although the attorney’s failure to tell the Defendant that fact might result in post-conviction relief after the filing of a Rule 3.850 motion to set aside the plea for ineffective assistance of counsel).

For example, in Sayles v. State, 14 So. 3d 1269, 1271 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009), the court found that the “[r]evocation of a driver’s license is a collateral consequence of a plea, and therefore, neither defense counsel nor the trial court is required to inform a defendant about such a consequence before the defendant enters his or her plea.”

Instead, § 322.61(3)(b) requires that if the Defendant holds a commercial driver’s license when he or she operates a noncommercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, the Defendant “shall . . . be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for a period of 1 year.”

The rule means that the Florida legislature mandated the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to disqualify the Defendant from operating a commercial motor vehicle for a period of one year.

Read more about the consequences of a first DUI for a CDL holder or commercial driver. Learn more about why a second or subsequent DUI conviction will result in the driver being permanently ineligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

During the period in which the individual is ineligible to drive a commercial motor vehicle, there is no provision for a hardship license (either a business purpose only or an employment purpose only) driver’s license to operate any commercial motor vehicle.

Additional Resources

NHTSA on Drunk Driving – Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website to learn more about drunk driving laws for a first offense. Find information on the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. Learn more about how alcohol affects driving ability, the effects of blood alcohol concentration, risk factors for driving after drinking, and consequences of driving a vehicle while impaired.

First DUI Administrative Suspension Laws in Florida – Visit the website of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to learn more about Florida laws for a first administrative suspension after a first DUI including the right to a formal review hearing, the issues for review, the periods of suspension, and the procedures for reinstatement.

Finding an Attorney for a First DUI in Hillsborough County, FL

If you have been arrested for a first DUI in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, contact an experienced lawyer to discuss your case. Call 813-250-0500 to speak with an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm today.

Even a first DUI can be subject to enhanced penalties if your BAC was over .15, you were involved in a traffic crash, or there was a child passenger in your vehicle.

In many cases, the fact that you have no prior DUI conviction or criminal record can be used to your advantage. Call us to find out more about the DUI diversion program in Hillsborough County for a first DUI called RIDR. Find out whether you might qualify for the Level 1 or the Level 2 RIDR program.

An attorney can help you decide the best strategy for fighting the accusation against you. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call 813-250-0500 today for a free consultation.

Back to top

Free Consultation

Submit this form to request a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.

Our Office Locations

Tampa Office:

Sammis Law Firm, P.A.
1005 N. Marion St.
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 250-0200

map + directions

New Port Richey Office:

Sammis Law Firm, P.A.
7509 Little Rd.
New Port Richey, FL 34654
(727) 807-6392

map + directions

Clearwater Office:

Sammis Law Firm, P.A.
14010 Roosevelt Blvd. #701
Clearwater, FL 33762
(727) 210-7004

map + directions

Our Attorneys

Leslie M. Sammis

Leslie M. Sammis

Jason D. Sammis

Jason D. Sammis

Joshua L. Monteiro

Joshua L. Monteiro

Dominique Celerin

Dominique Celerin

Katherine A. Aranda

Katherine A. Aranda

Idalis Vento

Idalis Vento

BBB accredited business rating A+
DUI Defense Lawyers Association - DUIDLA
National College for DUI Defense
National College for DUI Defense state delegate
The Florida Bar Criminal Law Section
NORML Legal Committee - Lifetime Member