Nobody wants to spend money unnecessarily. If you were charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida, it makes perfect sense to see if hiring a lawyer is a wise choice or not.
Obviously, attorneys don't work for free. However, the long-term benefits of working with a legal professional really can outweigh the initial cost. Here are eight different penalties and problems that a DUI defense attorney may be able to help you avoid:
- Jail time. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles points out that even a first-time offense can carry up to six months of jail time. Driving with a child in the car, or having a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .15 or higher, carries up to nine months in jail. If you are considered a habitual offender, you're looking at up to five years in prison.
- Expensive fines. Even a first conviction means paying between $500 and $1,000 - and that's with a relatively low BAL. If your BAL is .15 or higher, the fines double. A third DUI conviction can carry up to a $5,000 fine.
- Skyrocking insurance rates. Your insurance company would love an excuse to raise your rates, and a DUI conviction is the perfect opportunity. Increased insurance costs can a significant burden to your monthly budget.
- Ignition interlock device. Depending on your situation, you may be required to install one of these devices in your vehicle. However, it isn't free. You are required to pay for it out of your own pocket.
- Loss of your driver's license. If you're convicted of a first-time DUI, you will lose your driving privileges for at least 180 days - and possibly up to a whole year. Getting your license back isn't free, either. You will have to pay a reinstatement fee.
- Car impoundment. Unless your family has no other mode of transportation, your vehicle may be impounded for a certain length of time.
- DUI classes and community service - You will need to complete an educational program to get your license back. Plus, you will be required to complete 50 hours of community service (or pay additional fines).
- Lost opportunities. A DUI conviction is a criminal offense, which means you will have a criminal record. This can make it very difficult to get a good job, be admitted to certain universities, rent an apartment or accomplish other goals.
The bottom line is that failing to fight a DUI charge can be far more costly than hiring a lawyer. When you add up the expense of court fines, higher insurance rates, license reinstatement fees, ignition interlock installation, lost job opportunities, etc., it makes financial sense to retain a legal advocate who can work to reduce the penalties you face.