How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Record In Florida?
A DUI is a serious offense that can stick with you for the rest of your life. The state of Florida has strict laws surrounding DUI charges.
A person that is convicted of DUI cannot seal or expunge their DUI conviction. That’s why it’s so important to hire a skilled and experienced DUI attorney, who can fight your DUI case from the beginning.
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Florida?
If you are convicted of a DUI in the state of Florida, the DUI conviction will stay on your Florida driving record for 75 years, and it will remain on your criminal record for life.
Ways to Prevent a DUI from Staying on Your Record in Florida
Although a DUI conviction can never be erased from a person’s criminal record, there are sometimes ways to prevent it from ever getting on your record in the first place. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and hire an experienced DUI attorney at the beginning of the case.
Pre-Trial Diversion Programs that Result in the dismissal of the DUI Charge
A Florida pretrial diversion program is a possible option to prevent a DUI from ever getting on your record. If you’re facing your first DUI charge in Florida, there’s a chance you may be eligible to enter a diversion program.
For example, the State Attorney’s Office in Orange County, Florida sponsors a DUI diversion program. To qualify, participants must meet specific eligibility requirements and sign a contract in which they promise that they will follow the terms of the program.
Upon successful completion of the program, the State Attorney’s Office will dismiss the DUI charge. This means there won’t be a conviction permanently appearing on your record.
Although this program is an option in some Florida counties, the requirements to enter are stringent, and not everyone facing their first DUI will qualify.
Those facing a second (or subsequent) DUI do not qualify for a DUI pretrial diversion program.
If you complete a DUI diversion program and your case is dismissed, you may be able to expunge your DUI arrest.
Programs that Result in the Reduction of a DUI Charge to Reckless Driving
Unfortunately, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Manatee County, and Sarasota County do not offer a DUI diversion program. However, all of these counties do offer a different type of DUI program that can lead to the reduction of a DUI charge to reckless driving.
In Hillsborough County, the program is called RIDR (Reduced Impaired Driving Recidivism). In Pinellas and Pasco Counties the program is called DROP (DUI Rehabilitation of Offenders Program). In Manatee and Sarasota counties, the program is called DETER (Driver Enhanced Treatment Education Rehabilitation).
All of these programs require that a person charged with DUI meet specific conditions before they plead guilty and in exchange the State Attorney’s Office agrees to reduce the DUI charge to reckless driving. The conditions that the person must meet to get their case reduced to reckless driving may include completion of DUI school, community service hours, the installation of an ignition interlock, and completion of a DUI victim impact panel.
In some cases, these programs allow for the accused person to receive a withhold of adjudication to a plea of reckless driving. A withhold of adjudication is not a conviction under Florida law. The benefit of a withhold of adjudication is that the person may later be able to seal his or DUI arrest and case.
A person that has sealed the record of his or her arrest and case can, in most cases, legally deny that they were ever arrested. Once a record is sealed, a judge will order that the information concerning the person’s DUI arrest be removed from public records, like the clerk of court’s webpage and the sheriff’s office arrest history.
Not all persons accused of DUI will qualify for one of these programs. For example, a person that has a prior DUI will not qualify for any of these programs. Also, some counties won’t allow a driver into the program if his or her DUI involved an accident, or or the driver’s blood alcohol content was above a certain limit.
If you qualify, an experienced DUI attorney can counsel you on whether one of these programs is a good option to resolve your case.
A Plea to a Lesser Charge – like Reckless Driving or Careless Driving
In some cases, even though a person accused of DUI may not qualify for a pretrial intervention program, or one of the other programs described above, prosecutors will agree to reduce a DUI charge to reckless driving or careless driving.
Typically, this can happen when the case against the accused person is weak. For example, let’s say that a person was stopped for having a broken tail light, that the person did reasonably well on field sobriety exercises, and that the person refused to give a breath sample. In a case like that, the prosecutor might not want to go to trial, because they may not be able to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was impaired. So, the prosecutor might offer to reduce the DUI to reckless driving. In other cases, when the evidence that a person accused of DUI is slight, the prosecutor may reduce the DUI charge to careless driving, which is a civil citation rather than a criminal offense.
Every DUI case is different. Only an experienced Florida DUI attorney can counsel you as to what might happen in your particular case.
Hiring a DUI Attorney
Hiring a lawyer is a good decision when facing a DUI charge. DUI cases are complicated. They involve both administrative law issues and criminal law issues.
An attorney that is well-versed in DUI law can help you navigate the processes and procedures associated with your charge. An experienced DUI lawyer can protect your rights. Having a knowledgeable DUI attorney can be the difference between experiencing a brief temporary inconvenience, and a life-long criminal record.
Your attorney can present you with all of your legal options to keep your record free of a DUI conviction. Enlisting the help of an attorney with experience or specialties in helping clients with DUI convictions is a wise idea.
Attorney David C. Hardy is board certified by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy as an expert in criminal trial law.
If you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s not something to take lightly. With the assistance of the Hardy Law Firm, you may be able to get the charge reduced, and then sealed or expunged. However, in some DUI cases, you may not be able to do either. Again, every DUI case is different.
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