First DUI

Attorneys for a First Drunk Driving Charge in South Florida

Any DUI offense is a stressful situation. For many drivers, their first DUI arrest is the first criminal charge they've faced, and the issue may seem overwhelming. If you were arrested for a first DUI in Palm Beach County, Broward County, or the surrounding areas, there may be certain options available to you. From the administrative suspension to the ultimate resolution of the criminal allegations, a first offense can present more opportunities for an attorney to seek out a positive alternative to your case.

First DUI Charge in Palm Beach County

The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. take a full-service approach to helping a person charged with a first DUI. We understand that you have questions and that you are concerned about your future. Call us to find out about the important steps that you can take within 10 days of the arrest to protect your driving privileges. Find out why it makes sense to fight the allegations against you even in cases involving a refusal to submit to testing, a high breath or blood over .15, or a crash causing property damage, and let us tell you about how we can help to protect your future.

The experienced attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. proudly represent clients facing DUI charges throughout the Main Courthouse in West Palm Beach, the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach, the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, and the West County Courthouse in Belle Glade, FL, or the Judicial Complex, North Regional, West Regional, or South Regional Courthouses of Broward County.

Overview of First Drunk Driving Charges

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Administrative Suspensions After a First DUI Arrest

Every arrest for a suspicion of driving drunk immediately causes an administrative suspension of the driver's license, for a standard period of 6 months. If the arrested individual refused to submit to a chemical test, then the suspension is for one year, unless it is for the second instance of refusal.
The DUI Attorneys in South Florida at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can help you contest the administrative suspension of your driver's license. If retained during the first 10 days after the arrest, we will demand a formal review hearing. We can also help you obtain a 42-day permit (if your driver's license was otherwise valid at the time of the arrest) so that you can continue driving while we contest the suspension.

A first offense for DUI also carries a "hard suspension" period after the arrest. During this period, the driver cannot obtain a hardship license, which would allow limited driving in certain situations. For a standard DUI arrest, this hard suspension lasts for 30 days, but a refusal to submit to a BAC test then it is extended to 90 days. However, an attorney can guide you through the steps to avoid this hard suspension. For many individuals, being unable to legally drive for a month could cause extreme difficulty for daily activities such as going to work, school, or caring for loved ones.

To avoid the burden of a hard suspension, the person must enroll in DUI school and personally appear at the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) office within 10 days after the arrest. The driver must request a waiver review hearing, where the person must forever waive any right to a formal review hearing in exchange for immediate reinstatement of driving privileges. If eligible in this situation, the driver could receive a hardship license for Business Purposes Only (BPO). 

This waiver hearing and the entire process can be extremely stressful to navigate in a successful and timely manner. The attorneys of Meltzer & Bell, P.A. have completed this process for many clients charged with DUI in Broward County, and they can confidently take over all of the paperwork and scheduling for you. The lawyers at our firm can help you decide if this process would be in your best interest, and, if so, they will strive to minimize your stress during each step.

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Penalties if Convicted of a First DUI

If you are convicted of DUI in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida law states that the court must adjudicate you guilty of the offense and impose 12 months probation. The court must also order the completion of the following special conditions as part of the minimum mandatory penalties:
successfully completion of DUI school and all recommended follow-up treatment;
a fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000 (if the BAC was .15 or over or a minor was in the vehicle then the fine is not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000);
50 hours or community service (although the court can allow a buy out for some or all of the hours at a rate of $10 per hour);
mandatory court costs;
costs of supervision, prosecution, and investigation;
a 10-day vehicle impoundment or immobilization; and
a six (6) month revocation of your driver's license (which runs concurrently with any administration suspension).
On a first DUI in West Palm Beach or other areas of Florida, no jail time or incarceration is required. The statutory maximum amount of jail time that the court is allowed to impose is six (6) months unless the driver's BAC was higher than .15. If a driver is sentenced to prison time, the court can choose to assign alternate sentencing, such as participation in a residential alcohol treatment program, instead of jail time. An attorney with DUI experience can be invaluable when seeking out this type of option for you.

If a person is convicted of DUI for the first time with a BAC level above .15, they will be required to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle between 6 months and one year. This device requires a clean breath sample in order to start and operate a vehicle. The installation, maintenance, and removal costs of the device are the responsibility of the driver, and these fees can run very high.

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Reinstatement of Driving Privileges After a First DUI Conviction

If the person does not avoid the DUI conviction, then the court will order a driver license revocation of at least 6 months and up to one year. This court-ordered revocation runs concurrent with any administrative suspension, meaning that if an administrative suspension lasts 6 months, both of the suspensions will be served at the same time. After the first DUI conviction, the person is immediately eligible to apply for a Business Purposes Only (BPO) or Employment Purposes Only (EPO) Reinstatement under Florida Statute Section 322.271 and 322.28.

To receive the hardship reinstatement the person must complete DUI school and attend a hardship reinstatement hearing. A lawyer can work on your behalf to make arrangements that work around your schedule and ensure that all of your paperwork is handled smoothly and correctly so that you can get back to your daily routine as soon as possible.

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Finding a First DUI Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale

With experience in both Broward's Public Defender's Office and in the Broward County State Attorney's Office, the attorneys of Meltzer & Bell, P.A. are ready to confidently take on your DUI charges. If this offense goes on your record, it could impact your life for years to come. Let us ease your stress by keeping you informed through every step of the way and answering any questions that you may have. We will aggressively seek out a positive resolution for your individual situation.

If you're facing your first DUI charge in Palm Beach County, we can help you. To schedule your appointment to discuss your unique circumstances, call (561) 557-8686 today.

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Client Testimonials for Meltzer & Bell, P.A.
Client Testimonials
  • ...A long weekend vacation in Palm Beach resulted in the potential for serious consequences that could have set me back in unimaginative ways. M+B was a truly incredible legal advocate and was always accessible within minutes to answer questions and discuss the progress of the case within the system - truly remarkable. I could not have retained better legal representation in my case in Palm Beach County.

  • I just had to commend you on the outstanding job you did on behalf of your client in court yesterday. If my clients were ever to ask me if I know of a good DUI defense attorney, I know to whom I can refer them!

  • I was facing hard prison time and punishment. [Larry] did everything to pull strings and get me into rehab. After meeting with many therapists I finally got one to diagnose me successfully with Bipolar. Thanks to Larry I have been sober since 6/19/09. My health is great and my family life is amazing. It's because he saw something in me and my family that I wasn't just an alcoholic there was something that told me it was something else.

  • I was charged with a felony and facing the scary thought of losing my job, but thank you Attorney Steven Bell for helping me. Now I’m able to keep my job and take care of my family. I am truly amazed by your service, and you for understanding what I have to deal with. To me I’m very impressed by way you handled my case and was here to listen and make things OK!

  • Mr. Steven Bell, Words cant explain how thankful I am for you and your firm. I was facing felony charges and even looking at doing 5 years in jail! Not only did you fight for me, you got my case dismissed and dropped. For that, I don't have words to say “thank you” you were always kind and believed in me. You looked for every opportunity and you won! Thank you for being my guardian angel in disguise and steering me in the right direction. You are forever my “too go guy” thank you soooo much!

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