Although many instances of a first-time DUI are honest mistakes, that does not prevent the courts from imposing punishments. There is some wiggle room when it comes to penalties for a first-time DUI in Florence, which is why it is beneficial to have a lawyer by your side to challenge certain pieces of evidence or argue for a fairer penalty. This is especially true if a judge is responsible for determining these punishments.
How Courts Treat First Time DUI Offenders
Typically in Florence, if the court finds someone guilty and gives them jail time, they must actually do the time. There is no home incarceration for DUI offenses. However, nearly everyone with this type of charge is out on bond instead of sitting in jail while awaiting their charges.
Juries tend to be a little more lenient than the judges do when it comes to first-offense DUI penalties in Florence. Given that the judges are elected officials, and it is politically unpopular to be soft on DUIs which could potentially cause death, they tend to be a bit stricter with punishments. Unless there is an aggravating circumstance, a judge will not send someone to jail if it was their first time; but as far as winning a trial, it is a lot harder to win a trial with a judge than with a jury.
Penalties for a First DUI Conviction
The penalties for a first-time DUI in Florence are laid out clearly in the state laws. For a non-aggravated DUI, a person can get a fine of anywhere from $200 to $500. They can also get up to 30 days in jail and there is a mandatory license suspension of six months. If they have an interlock device installed in their vehicle (where they have to blow into it to make their car start) then their license suspension could be reduced to 120 days if they are able to go 90 days consecutive of not blowing over the limit.
If a person is convicted of an aggravated DUI, all of the above still applies, but there will be a mandatory minimum jail sentence of four days and a maximum jail sentence of 30 days. These punishments increase with second offenses.
Probation and Diversion Programs
There is no diversion available for first-time DUI offenders. If the DUI charge had no other aggravating circumstances, a judge could potentially give the defendant jail time and simply call it conditionally discharged jail time. This means they do not have to serve any of those days as long as they meet certain conditions, such as paying fines or attending alcohol classes.
Can a Person Get Their License Back if They Are Acquitted of a DUI?
If a person is acquitted of a DUI, then any license suspension they have is terminated automatically and there will be a court order that terminates their pre-trial suspension. They must go into the county clerk’s office and get a new license, which might take a day or so to process.
Speak to a Florence Attorney Now Regarding First-Time DUI Penalties
Although you will not be given hard prison time or thousands of dollars in fines, you could still experience a driver’s license suspension, be forced to install an interlock device, or pay a few hundred dollars. One of our experienced defense lawyers could help you push back against penalties for a first-time DUI in Florence. Call us today to discuss your case.