Party drinksBeing charged with a DUI for the first time can be quite scary because you may be uncertain about how this might affect your future. Even if you have no history of drunk driving convictions or any other criminal charges, being arrested for driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol can still be a very serious problem. Any person who gets charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in the state may be subject to serving time behind bars, steep fines, and various other sanctions. Having one DUI charge on your record means you will face even harsher sanctions for any subsequent DUI conviction.

Because of this, seeking professional legal guidance when dealing with first-time DUI in South Florida can be especially vital to protecting your long-term interests. The expert DUI defense lawyers at Rossen Law Firm can discuss your options with you, including the potential for alternative sentencing if you have no existing criminal record and/or are considered a low-risk offender.

We have your back when it comes to keeping harsh DUI penalties at bay. Rest assured, we don’t ever settle for less and will fight for your freedom and liberty.

What is a DUI Crime in Fort Lauderdale?

DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs. Under Florida Law, a DUI is proved by a person’s “normal faculties” being imparied or a person having an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level (impairment of normal faculties, of course, can make this more subjective). 

A DUI Offense occurs when a person is found to be in a vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or a controlled substance with a breath or blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. 

The Florida Statute states a DUI offense is the illegal act of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle when under the influence of alcoholic beverages resulting in impairment to someone’s normal abilities and/or if they have a breath or blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 or above. 

Actual physical control of a vehicle means a person must be physically on a motorcycle, bicycle, car, or any other vehicle and have the capability to operate it – regardless of whether or not the person is actually operating or running the vehicle at the time of an arrest.

(In fact – you even could get a DUI while sleeping in your car).

Criminal Penalties for a First-Time DUI

Anyone found to have operated any car, truck, or other motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration over 0.08 percent and/or while “under the influence” of alcohol to an extent that impairs their “normal faculties” may be charged under Florida Statutes §316.193 with DUI. Under this section of state law, a first-time DUI offender in South Florida may be subject to a maximum of six months of time in jail with no associated mandatory minimum, as well as a minimum fine of $500 up to a maximum of $1,000. There is also a mandatory 12-month term of probation applicable to anyone convicted of first-time DUI, as well as 50 hours of community service.

Importantly, these penalties increase in severity for people who are arrested for DUI while having a BAC exceeding 0.15 percent, or while they have a minor child in the vehicle with them. Under these circumstances, the maximum applicable jail term would be nine months in length, and the applicable fine would increase to $1,000 minimum and $2,000 maximum. Likewise, any first-time offender who causes property damage and/or physical injury to anyone else while driving drunk may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor offense, punishable upon conviction by a maximum $1,000 fine and/or one-year jail sentence.

Certain first-time DUI offenders may avoid jail time by instead applying for participating in an Electronic Monitoring Program and/or residential alcohol/drug treatment. A DUI defense attorney could explain these programs in more detail over the course of an initial meeting.

Administrative Sanctions for First-Time Drunk Drivers

A first-time DUI offender in Fort Lauderdale who is convicted of violating Fla. Stat. §316.193 may face various administrative penalties in addition to any jail sentences, probation, and/or fines assessed against them in criminal court. For example, a first-time DUI conviction will result in mandatory impoundment or immobilization of the defendant’s vehicle for ten days which will not run concurrently with incarceration.

First-time offenders convicted of DUI without causing any bodily injury will have their driver’s license revoked for 180 days minimum up to a maximum of one year. In cases where someone else suffers bodily injury, you could be subject to a mandatory three-year license revocation. There are limited exceptions to these punishments, but a knowledgeable lawyer can help you understand the situation you are facing and your possible defenses.


Many believe that they can get away with not hiring a DUI defense attorney for their first DUI because it is their first offense. Regardless if it is your first or fourth DUI charge, it is important that you find an experienced DUI defense attorney to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Not every defense attorney or law firm has the legal experience and training necessary to defeat a South Florida DUI charge. Decisions made on your case are permanent and have long-lasting consequences. 

Rossen Law Firm has many years of experience with all types of DUI charges. We know dealing with this charge is a struggle, but with our help you can feel relieved knowing you have someone on your side to fight for you. We know how to protect your rights and provide you with a personalized and aggressive defense to your DUI case. 

If you are facing a new DUI charge, call our office today. We will begin working on your case immediately and collect all evidence that the State has against you to begin forming a plan to defeat your DUI charge.

DUI Defenses

  • Valid Explanations for Your Appearance and Behavior: Having allergies is not a crime in the State of Florida. For some officer observations, you might be able to provide an explanation—other than intoxication—for what happened. For example, fatigue and physical disabilities can lead to poor FST performance. And bloodshot eyes can be caused by allergies and other irritants.
    • Necessity – When a person must drive to prevent a greater evil. The driver must prove that he or she had no other options and that the “greater evil” they wished to avoid was more serious than the potential harm caused by a DUI.
    • Duress – When the defendant drives in order to avoid serious injury or death, he or she is doing so under duress. For example, someone forces an intoxicated person to drive by threat of force.
    • Improper Stop -This is one of the most common arguments used by defense attorneys in DUI cases, and involves the claim that the officer lacked probable cause to make the initial traffic stop.

Discuss Your First-Time DUI Case with an Expert Fort Lauderdale Attorney

If you get charged with a DUI, contact an experienced DUI attorney. Don’t get tricked into believing all criminal defense attorneys know DUI law. It is very intricate and different from criminal law. Rossen Law Firm knows how to protect your rights against your DUI charges.

This is just a broad overview of the consequences you may face upon being convicted of DUI for the first time. Different standards and sanctions may apply to you if you have a Commercial Driver’s License, or if you are under 21 and/or driving with a learner’s permit.

Consulting with our award-winning DUI defense team at Rossen Law Firm will give you your best chances of proactively dealing with your first-time DUI in South Florida. We offer potential clients FREE strategy sessions so they can see for themselves how knowledgeable we are and how determined we are to defeat their DUI charge. Call today to get started.

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