Driving Under the Influence

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a misdemeanor charge most commonly charged as a criminal traffic offense.  Driving Under the Influence is controlled by Florida Statute 316.193.  It is an enhanceable offense, which means the penalties get subsequently worse for one who has been previously convicted of DUI.




The penalties associated with a DUI case can be severe.  They can include, but are not limited to a loss of license, a criminal conviction, probation, substance abuse counseling, community service and even jail.  A first DUI is punishable by up to six (6) months in jail pursuant to statute and a second is punishable by up to nine (9) months in jail.


If you have been charged with a DUI it is extremely important to contact a Florida Keys DUI Lawyer.  Many times DUI cases have legal issues that may put a defendant in a favorable position for trial and/or for negotiating a reduced charge, such as reckless driving.

In Monroe County, many first time offenders will be eligible for a diversionary program in which the end result is a plea to reckless driving.  This distinction between the charge of DUI and reckless driving is extremely important for many reasons, but most importantly because the judge is not required to adjudicate (convict) the defendant in a reckless driving plea.  In contrast, the Florida Legislature has passed legislation which requires a judge to adjudicate (convict) a defendant the pleas to the charge of DUI.  Additionally, if the conviction is withheld to reckless driving, these first time offenders will then be eligible to seal their record, such that the arrest can be lawfully denied and removed from one’s record pursuant to Florida Statute.


In a DUI case, time is crucial, particularly for your driver’s license.  You have ten (10) days from your arrest to challenge your license suspension with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).  This is done by requesting a formal review hearing with the Department.  When you request a formal review hearing, you are issued a temporary business purpose license that will last during the pendency of your hearing.  If you win the formal review hearing, your license will be returned.  If you do not win the formal review hearing, there will be a period of “hard time” when you will not have eligibility for a business purpose license.  For a first time DUI, this is a thirty (30) day period for those who have taken the breath test, and a ninety (90) day period for those who have refused.  Of course, it is important to keep in mind that this “hard time” period is only imposed in the event that one loses the formal review hearing.

A fairly recent administrative change also allows first time offenders to waive a formal review hearing and be immediately issued a business purpose license.  However, the ten (10) day time period from your arrest still applies. You must still fill out the necessary paperwork and enroll in an approved DUI school, all before the ten (10) day period has run.  While you have lost the opportunity to challenge the suspension and are guaranteed to have a DUI license suspension on your driver’s license history, some people elect this option because there is no risk of the “hard time” period mentioned above.


The experienced DUI attorneys at Robertson & Hunter, LLP can help you decide whether opting for a formal review, or waiving into an immediate business purpose license is right for your situation.

Both the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Key West Police Department aggressively pursue DUI cases.  If you have been arrested for a DUI, contact the experienced Florida Keys Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Key West Law Office of Robertson & Hunter, LLP for a consultation regarding your DUI case today.