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Getting a DUI in Florida: What to Expect

Julia got a DUI in Florida in 2010 and wants to share her experience with others so that they can be prepared to go through this process.

Police car with emergency lights on

Police car with emergency lights on

On November 28, 2010, two days after my 41st birthday, I was at a Christmas festival with my mother. Over the course of the night—about six hours—I proceeded to drink six glasses of wine and a Belgian beer. I then got behind the wheel of my car and drove home. As I was turning into my subdivision, I ran my vehicle through a brick wall. The crash was so loud it woke up my entire family (including my two children) who were sleeping four houses down from the scene of the accident.

I was so intoxicated that at the time I thought I had run into a bush and was confused as to why the entire front half of my car was smashed in. At this point, you are probably thinking something along the lines of, "what were you thinking?" and rightly so. To be honest, anyone who drinks and drives is a bit of an idiot considering the consequences when a $30 cab ride was all it would have taken to avoid the situation. That said, if you find yourself in this situation, here is what you have to look forward to over the next year of your life.

Arrest and Subsequent Processing

Once the police are at the scene, you will be questioned, handcuffed, and taken down to the station. Here’s what comes next:

  • The police will ask you to take a breathalyzer test, which I now know is highly inadvisable. In my opinion, if you have had over two drinks, refuse this test. In my case, I was trying to be cooperative and ended blowing a .2 which made it a whole new ballgame.
  • Once they have determined you are eligible for arrest, you will be put into the "drunk tank" where you will sit for about three hours with anyone else who was arrested that night.
  • During this time, they will also take your mugshot which immediately goes on the Internet.
  • You will most likely be asked to change into prison garb at this time, be handcuffed, and taken to general population.
  • You will also be asked if you want to have a public defender. I recommend saying no. If you do sign up for this and later change your mind, you will be charged $50.
  • Eventually, you will be allowed to leave. In my case, this happened at 6 pm that evening.
  • You will be allowed to make a phone call, which should be to anyone who can and will post bail for you—it may be between $200 to $500 (it is usually 10% of the actual bail).
  • At some point during all of this, you will appear before a judge who will set your bail and future court date.
  • By now, some of the shock will be wearing off, and the magnitude of your situation will start to set in. Feelings of remorse, guilt, humiliation, and fear will take over.

Hiring a Lawyer

In my opinion, if finances allow it, you should hire a lawyer immediately. Here's what to expect:

  • It will cost around $4500 and may or may not help in the end, but the mental support a lawyer will give you is extremely beneficial to get you through what will probably be one of the most stressful times in your life.
  • Shop around, as many lawyers will work with you on payment plans. Mine accepted $2000 up front and then deducted $1000 from my total because he was not able to have my charge reduced.

Any form of support during this time will be welcome, as you will soon find out that very few people are going to be sympathetic. Instead, many will be judging you harshly. You will quickly learn who your true friends are.

Losing Your License and Obtaining a Hardship License

About ten days after your DUI, your license will be taken away. Following that, you will have a hearing with the DMV, who will decide if you are able to get it back before your court date or if you will have to apply for a "hardship" license. If you have a lawyer, they will go to this for you. If you took a breathalyzer and were above the legal limit, it is highly unlikely you will get your driving privileges back at this time.

  • Regardless of the outcome of the DMV hearing, there is a 30-day sit-out period during which you will not be able to drive at all.
  • During this time, you will want to enroll in an eight-hour driving class that usually costs around $250. The DMV will require proof of enrollment before they grant you a hardship license.
  • After your 30 days, you will call the DMV and set up a formal "hearing." Because Florida has so many DUI cases, this is typically done over the phone. The people are very nice, and the phone hearing lasts about five minutes, after which you will be able to go down to the DMV and obtain a hardship license. This is going to cost another $244.
  • The confusing thing about this phase of your DUI is that no one is going to tell you exactly where you can and cannot drive. You are absolutely allowed to drive to work and church. Anywhere else—like the grocery store—is up to the officer who pulls you over. This is just one of the many frustrations you will encounter while trying to get through your DUI.
  • According to my lawyer, you are absolutely allowed to go to the grocery store, but you should always be sure to get a receipt with the time and date. However, certain police officers would not consider this as something that affects your "livelihood" and would make you appear in court. While most judges will dismiss this, you will still end up paying court costs as well as going through the hassle of another court date. My advice is to drive as little as possible.
  • You will notice that you get pulled over much more these days because your tag shows that you were arrested for a DUI.

DUI Traffic School and Counseling

I highly recommend enrolling in traffic school for DUI-offenders as soon as you can. Here's what to expect:

  • The first step will be an evaluation to determine if you will be ordered to go to counseling. While it is tempting to lie on this evaluation, do not put too much effort into it because it is almost guaranteed that you will be ordered to go to at least three months of therapy.
  • As for the eight-hour class you must attend, I personally found it to be very informative and rewarding, though others I talked to felt it was painfully boring. Whatever your feelings are, you have to take it, so get it over with as soon as possible.
  • One warning: You will be tested for drug and alcohol use during class, so be very careful. If you test positive, you will be thrown out of class and have to pay the fee all over again. While this sounds like common sense, two people in my class were sent home because of drinking, so it must not be that obvious to everyone.

Preparing to Go to Court

As you await subsequent court dates, your lawyer will be a great source of comfort and information. Here's what to expect as the legal process begins to unfold:

  • Between getting arrested and potentially going to court, your lawyer will be doing "investigation" for your case. They will go over your arrest with a fine-toothed comb, looking for even the slightest mistake made by the police.
  • In my case, unfortunately, there was nothing to be found. I have heard, however, that many people get off because the officers didn't have their breathalyzer certification up to date or the machines had glitches.
  • This process takes a little over a month, and you will be given a report of what was found. Once this is completed, you and your lawyer will meet to go over your case and take what they think is the best course of action.
  • It's important to be realistic and realize that your lawyer may be trying to paint a rosy version of the incident. If you blew over a .15 blood-alcohol volume and the police department had all their ducks in a row, it is unlikely you are going to get off on a reckless driving charge.
  • Your lawyer will most likely try to persuade the prosecution to drop your charges to the penalty for a .15 or below. If you blew a .20 or above, however, there is no hope that this will happen unless there were serious mistakes on the police department's end.

Taking a Plea or Going to Trial

Your lawyer will have a meeting with the prosecution to determine if you will plead guilty and take a plea bargain or go to trial. Generally, the sentence you receive in exchange for the plea will be less than what you'd receive if found guilty at trial.

  • This is where having a lawyer who is rooted in the community and has a lot of connections could be very beneficial. If your lawyer is dealing with friends, your chances of a good plea deal are much higher. This was not the case in my situation.
  • Take the time to find out who your judge is, as there is a huge variety of opinions on drunk drivers in the courts. My judge considered DUI offenders up there with animal and child abusers, so I was walking a very thin line.
  • I was given no breaks despite never having a ticket in my life prior to this DUI. Had I gone to trial, I most likely would have had to serve jail time because the judge felt she needed to make examples of people like me. Thus, it was in my best interest to accept a plea bargain.

Going to Court

Although the court hearing is brief and really not a huge deal, I found it somewhat traumatic and mentally draining. Standing in front of a courtroom full of people and a judge while saying, "Guilty, Your Honor," and then hearing a long list of punishments was hard. That being said, it's also the beginning of the end, so it's a huge milestone in your DUI. I would advise you not to put off your court date for two reasons:

  • First, the judges seem to find people who clog up the courts with rescheduling bothersome and will be less lenient in the long run.
  • Second, your sentence starts the day of your hearing, not the day of your DUI, so it is best to get it over with and move on.
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Here is the punishment I received and what you can expect for a first-time DUI with a high blood alcohol level of .15 or above:

  • I was ordered to attend three months of counseling at $135 per month.
  • I was ordered to attend 12 mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
  • I was required to call a number every Sunday through Thursday to see if I was to report for a random alcohol test the next morning. You will be assigned a color, and if your color is called, you must go in the next day for a urine test and pay $15. My color came up at least once a week, but I think this is unusual because many people report only having to do this twice a month.
  • I was required to install an ignition interlock breathalyzer on my car for six months. This cost $160 to install which included the first-month fee. It then cost $72.50 per month.
  • I was required to have FR 44 insurance for three years at $244 per month.
  • I was required to have my car immobilized for ten days for $100.
  • I was required to complete 50 hours of community service. I did mine at Goodwill, which clocks every single second. I have heard that parks-and-recreation departments are much more lax.
  • I was required to pay a $1000 fine.
  • I ended up paying $834 in court costs.
  • I was required to meet with a probation officer monthly. This cost $70 the first time and $55 every time after.
  • I was required to take a two-hour victims awareness class for $40.
  • I was prohibited from drinking alcohol for six months to a year
  • My license was revoked immediately after court. Applying for a new hardship license cost $100.

One frustrating thing about all of this is that you are going to be required to start doing a lot of this immediately, like calling in and appearing for alcohol testing as well as meeting with your probation officer. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to drive. It is what it is. The court has absolutely no concern for your convenience.

My advice is just to accept it and figure something out. At first, I was angry over the injustice of this, but it didn't change a thing, and I simply had to find someone willing to drive me around. Planning ahead can go a long way in reducing stress while you're on probation.

Interlock ignition breathalyzer

Interlock ignition breathalyzer

Tips for Carrying Out the Sentence

The punishment I received had to be completed in a year, but if I finished everything by the six-month mark I could be released from my probation at that time. My sentence was fairly typical, though I have had heard of worse, such as two years of driving with an ignition breathalyzer, a $2000 fine, and 150 hours of community service, all for a first-time DUI. On the other hand, if you blew below the .15 mark you most likely will not have to have the interlock device or have to call in nightly.

As for the punishments, they are all punitive. You will quickly realize DUIs are all about money rather than rehabilitation.

  • The group therapy is a joke. Our money is collected, we take roll, we read an article out of the paper, and then we go home.
  • The ignition breathalyzer is a bit of a nightmare, but I am learning to deal with it. It has a lot of quirks and it not incredibly reliable. That being said. if you have to have one on your car I would advise you to learn how to use it and drive only when necessary.
  • My probation officer does nothing but collect my money and say, "I don't know" to any question I ask.
  • Community service really isn't too bad. My suggestion is to see what is out there and go with an organization that supports something you believe in. It doesn't have to be picking up trash on the side of the road. A lot of people actually end up finding employment from their community-service hours, so don't just write it off as something dreadful.
  • One thing no one explained to me was that your license revocation ends before your probation does. In August I will be able to drive freely again despite the fact that I will have one more month of the interlock device on my car, as well as having to do my other probation requirements.
  • The time you are required to have the interlock on your car actually starts once you get your hardship license—which you cannot get without the interlock—not the date when the device is installed. My original plan was to have the device installed and simply not drive for six months. Unfortunately this isn't how it works.
  • Just getting started on your sentence is going to cost you around $500, so be prepared.
  • For your own peace of mind, get started fulfilling your sentence as soon as possible so that you feel like you are making progress towards completing this nightmare. I personally knocked my community service out first because it was free to do and I felt a huge relief when I was done. I then had the interlock installed and got my hardship license so that I could have a definite date that I knew it would be over. Next, I figure I will knock out having my car impounded for 10 days, though I'm still not sure what purpose this punishment serves except to have you spend more money.
  • One last warning: You will need to shop around immediately for your FR 44 insurance because the DMV will charge you an additional $150 to get your hardship license if you do not get this within about a month. There is a huge variety of prices out there. Some insurance companies will quote you $2500 up front every six months, while others will charge you around $200 a month without having to pay a huge up-front cost.

Staying Positive and Moving On

In the end, if I can at least make this awful experience a little easier for anyone I will be happy. Here's what I've learned:

  • From my experience, the best asset you can have is perspective. I had to start seeing my arrest as a blessing in disguise. I could have killed someone or myself and since I'll never do this again, I now will never have to live with that.
  • I personally have stopped drinking which has created its own benefits in my life. This combined with the fact that I am actually getting through everything without a nervous breakdown (yet) has made me a much stronger and resourceful person. I rarely judge people anymore as I have been so harshly judged during this whole process.
  • You will get through this, but it takes diligence and the right attitude. Learn from it and make sure you have a plan going forward when you are in situations that involve alcohol and driving. I met plenty of people along the way who were arrested for sleeping drunk in their cars simply because they had their keys on them. I also met a lot of people who were on their second or third DUI. The return rate for offenders is somewhere around 40%. This is partially due to the fact you will find yourself profiled by police from here on out and have a much higher chance of getting pulled over after your first DUI.
  • Realize that as bad as your situation is, it could always be worse. Learn to say "it is what it is" and move on. I wasted a lot of energy getting angry over the fact that the laws were set up solely to punish and make money off drunk drivers as opposed to rehabilitating them to prevent future occurrences. I eventually realized that unless I wanted to get involved with trying to fight them I needed to just accept what I had to do and get on with my life.

As horrible and hopeless as it seems you will get through it, as countless others have. Your job now is to make sure it never happens again. Sometimes the worst things in life are actually the best things in life; it just depends on how you look at them.

Before you leave a nasty comment on what a horrible person I am for driving drunk, please save your energy. I have felt every angle of remorse, guilt, and shame possible. I am fully aware of what I did and accept full responsibility for my actions, and have learned from my mistake.

ps- If you feel compelled to leave a nasty comment on what a horrible person I am and how I deserve to burn in hell for driving drunk- please save your energy. I have felt every angle of remorse, guilt and shame over this possible. I am fully aware of what I did and accept full responsibility for my actions.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Kristi on February 15, 2020:

Thank you for this very detailed explanation. I have been (way too) lucky & have never been arrested, but my roommate just did & I was looking for something like this to know what to expect to be able to help. I think this will help her a lot. Thank you for being so forthcoming!

Alicen on January 31, 2020:

Thank you for this, i am going thru this now and can feel all what you are describing. God bless you, we should not judge but all be kinder to one another.

Holly Buentiempo on September 05, 2019:

Thank you so much for this...I really wish that I had read this 9 months ago. I am getting ready to be done with all of this, but felt very ill advised and clueless, I should have done my homework...I should have read this. I had my interlock device put on my car because that was part of the sentence, but I couldn't afford all of the things required to get my license back---so I have paid 6 months for it being on an immobile car and am not getting any credit from the DMV, and I see why now, but I am just amazed that Intoxolock, would just let me think every thing was hunky dory. Is there anything I can do? Suck it up? It is what it is...

Marc Mad on June 02, 2019:

I have yet to have my second court date and meet with the counselor this week. I am wondering if anyone had gone through that session and NOT been forced to do IOP. While it is inconvenient, that is not my concern, my sobriety is. I am what the book (AA) a "real alcoholic" i have neen involved with aa for 11 years, but have had some bad relapses (3 rehabs, countless hospitalizations) and am finally doing great with a new sponsor, my own psychologist and psychiatrist and a very aggressive meeting schedule. In short I'm scared IOP will completely disrupt my recovery and lead to me being resentful and drinking.

Mirza Khan on June 01, 2019:

Thank you so much for Sharing your story .

Kin on May 04, 2019:

Very informative and helpful. I admire your taking the time to outline the process to try to help others. It’s a shame so many judges you. But you persevered and have made a positive out of a negative in your life.

Dawn Pauline on October 19, 2018:

It is what it is.. You are so correct and so brave. Keep sending your story going. I have been there and done that.. Everything you have written is true..

Bambi on September 29, 2018:

Thank you for sharing. Now I kinda know what to expect. I drank three beers and a rum drink. I’m taking all this very well cause it could have turned tragic. We are good people that made a bad choice. This was definitely a lesson learned. Thanks again for sharing.

tom on July 19, 2018:

Oh!!!!! Lisa guess child is not special just by virtue of being a child. I can tell by your comment she comes from average stock...she is not going to find the cure for cancer. Wait!!!... I see her future, pregnant and ignorant like most children of child worshipping parents. Stop ruining peoples lives over what they could have, would have done to your precious children.

Lys Salazar on May 22, 2018:

Well, I really start reading this because the need of support I like Patrice got a DUI on 04/14 /2018 .. Crazy scared I was a few blocks fron my house and because I am leaving the country for a few years I had to speed up my situation. A night out in a mexican restaurant turn in to hell.. I recognize that I did something really dangerous for Te community and for myself but I didn’t hurt, crashed or eat a ltraffic light why can they make me work hard, pay my penalties and lbelieve me those few hours in jail made me realize that I don’t want to go back there anymore in my life. I have lived in 5 different countries and never got issues w police here in America I am clean and I do care about my community. All the trauma trough this is back when you have a friend calling you that she saw your mugshot. Another day thinking and estressing over life .. lucky me I have my husband support but it hurts tht that night I told the officer ( a woman) to come and check on my 13 y old that was waiting for me she did sent an officer at 2 am and told my son that he needed to go to a neighborhood bc I was arrested on a DUI. I mean WHY ? Does the officer really needed to scared my child like that ? I get it we have to be punished, but on top of lawyers cost, school cots Community service, suspension of the DL, a night in jail, being treated like you kill someone,being treated like you are a piece of garbage, worthless, insurance high costs. Isn’t that enough ? A fricking picture of the most horrible night ( for many of us posted on line ? I feel terrified only to drive and people say to me who cares ? You are leaving but still husrts. This evening receiving this call made me see, feel and think all over about this awefull time I am trying really hard to put behind .. seriously I will be writing letters to congressman after all we all deserved a chance WTF didn’t I pay my debt and now this ? It is so humiliating and something needs to be done ...I refuse to let myself down it looks to me that the system more than teach me wants to destroy me. Again I do get it what if I did kill someone or my self, and I consider myself blessed, but I did not damage anyone or anything. I got and accepted my DUI and in the state of FL we probably die with this mark but a frocking mugshot really needs to be out there? So now who is the real criminal ? Me that I had Few drinks with my dinner and was able to drive but another human determined that I couldn’t ?( Ok I did something wrong, and I will never do it again thatnks to this experience.) or the real criminal is out there getting easy money earning with the pain of other humans .. I mean mugshot company oweners don’t care if anyone commit suicide out of depression or lost their life because this .. so who is the criminal ? I am pain for my mistake does it have to be eternal ? What else does the system wants ? It is crucial that we take actions and fight this.. we need to go against the real bad people.. and never and ever DD again .. I tried to start a blog is call DUIHell but not many people reacted it is trough google .. Very thanksfull I found this .

Patrice on May 10, 2018:

I got a DUI 4-14-18 it is forever burned into my memory as the second worst day of my life. I started drinking in hopes to coping with my fiancé’s death but I was met with many more issues and stress by driving drunk. It’s hard to cope with the pain and this so I’m wanting to drink even more now but of course I can’t and I feel as if everything is crashing around me. The highlight to this is I found this article and found it very informative and enlightening. Thank you for sharing this very personal yet embarrassing moment in your life. I currently feel like a piece of shit for what I did and I’m traumatized from the experience of jail because that was my first time ever and I never want to go back.

Lisa on April 21, 2018:

My 16 y/o was driving for 4 days. She was stopped at a red light and rear ended at 60mph by a drunk driver! He lived 5 minutes away... He could have gotten a Uber! He made a bad choice that caused injuries to my daughter! Rest assured he will not forget this!!! I will ensure he is given all he is due!!!

Jess on March 18, 2018:

I needed this thanks :)

Leo on February 28, 2018:

Thank you sharing. Good luck!!

J on January 24, 2018:

No judgement from me.

E on November 28, 2017:

great article. thx

ken on November 24, 2017:

very informative-I do hope many read this-and thanks for taking the time to write this--

KB on November 13, 2017:

Thank you - very good article

Cheryl Bruce on March 22, 2017:

God Bless you. I'm going through my 1st ever DUI now and it's hell. Thanks for writing about your experience it is helpful. For all those righteous judgers crap on them...

Larry on March 18, 2017:

I am scared to death of my fate. I hope all works out. Like you said it is what it is. I am afraid of losing everything if found Guilty Job , Home , Wife. I have panic attacks and they are not good for me. I have been given my first offer. Plead Guilty 12 months probation, Random urine tests etc. GOD HELP ME AND ALL WHO HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS!

Remy on January 07, 2017:

Your advice was more useful than all the legal advertisements. Thank you for you courage in posting and helping so many in the process.

KM-Just got of probation=DUI #2 on January 04, 2017:

You are right on and good for you for posting this for those who have not had the horrible experience of going through this. Hopefully, it will make people who have not done it, or not gotten caught, think twice and don't make this mistake. It is hardcore and life changing. Mine was a first one, I made the mistake of refusing the test.....bad because "swear to the Good Lord, I had not had a drink for days, just a bad attitude......Second, I blew a .09........Never thought for a second that if I blew that I would be over. No more for this girl! NEVER AGAIN! This was HORRIBLE! Stupid, bad mistake.....and you are right, it was all about the money....and I am still paying, as you mentioned about the breathing device and FR-44, etc. So for those who have not had this happen, don't let it. You will be sorry in more was than.....$5,000 min............

CBR on November 03, 2016:

I got arrested for DUI and refused to breathe on the machine. Got my hardship license the next day I got arrested. I already did the dui classes and now I'm going to do the treatment because I was required and just found out that out when I went to court or pretrail?. I also don't have a lawyer which I'm about to because I want this to get this over with. they told me my speedy trial is waived and now I spoke with a probation officer in court which they suppose to send me a contract for my case. And also I have a motorcycle not a car. What else do I have to do after my treatment?

Brenda on October 30, 2016:

For those of you wanting to know from the author about information on FR44 insurance - just google it and it all comes up. Where to get it, who is cheapest, etc etc.


I have a question pertaining to the "additional counseling" or as they call it - "second opinion" of my evaluation. I am 56 yo and take several medications. The one is Adderall (I have ADD bad) that medication honestly had me feeling absolutely NO effects of the 3 -16oz beers that I drank in a period of 2 hours. At the time of my DUI, I had an argument with my roommate who I found was stealing my medications. I packed up my personal belongings, laptop, change of clothing, all my medications and was on the way to stay with a friend. After my arrest the cop was "logging" in and counting my medications. There were almost 15 pills missing from my brand new refill of "clonipin" and a few from my new refill of "lunesta" at the driving school I told the woman about what happened the night of my arrest, she also asked me about the day before my arrest. I was very honest with her and NEVER expected to be kicked to "additional counseling or treatment". I was pretty pissed when at the end of the interview she said - "You know what has me concerned right" and I said, no tell me. She said I am concerned that you are abusing prescription medication! AND... your BAC of .109 and .111 were very high for what you said you had to drink. I weigh 118 lbs. and did the math and I don't see what her issue with THAT is.. Anyway... now that I have to go (and its ALL ABOUT THE MONEY)

Am I going to have to submit to chemical testing of my urine? I feel that is a segway into them wanting to speak to my Psychiatrist who prescribes my Adderall which frankly is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS!!! My medical issues do not concern the State of Florida Highway & Safety (or whatever they call themselves) and to make matters worse.. about a week ago, contractors were remodeling my house and I smelled pot. I ended up buying like an 1/8th of some pretty dank stuff and naturally smoked it - all of it. Since my PO only did breath tests on me it was not an issue at the time, but NOW it is a BIG ISSUE if in fact they are going to chemical test my urine. Is there any way around this? I heard several ways to flush it but I am concerned this will show up. Am I required BY LAW to go to "their" counselors because frankly it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Why can't I go to a licensed psychologist for an unbiased opinion? They are all "in bed" together and the fact that she wants to send HER opinions and findings to them I feel is collusion!

The Plot thickens: The day I was supposed to report to Probations (intake) I was looking for my ID at my storage facility when I got locked inside the gate. I climbed the fence and fell breaking both my ankles and crushing both heels. After surgery on my one badly broken ankle I spent 3 months in a nursing facility and a total of 6 months in a wheelchair. Although once out of the nursing facility I began my PO visits, paid for all the incidentals required by the PO, did the victim impact panel, paid most of the fines, but financially couldn't come up with the nearly $300 for the DUI school. Finally, I went to the school two weeks ago.... but now that I have to go to this additional counseling (and everybody says it will be 12 weeks) my PO said ALL MY REQUIREMENTS must be completed by Dec 3rd 2016. Since that is NOT going to happen, and she said THERE ARE NO EXTENSIONS ON PROBATION Now what? If they are going to put me in jail anyway, why should I bother with the balance of the requirements? If you could please give me some insight to this nightmare I would appreciate it. Just give it to me straight, I'm a big girl, did make a mistake, further complicated the issues with the smoke, and I just want this OVER. Oh and one other thing.. I don't want a Florida license. I am a NY resident and once all this crap is over, I want to go home! What should I do. I will keep checking this site for an answer - answer from anyone with any suggestions.. A friend told me to transfer my probation to NY and move home and finish my stuff up there. They are not as punitive as they are down here ?? Is that an option? PLEASE ADVISE ASAP. Thank you, Brenda!

raj on October 19, 2016:

you said you had counseling for 3 months but how long were the classes and how many times per week?


some guy on November 03, 2015:

Also, you can sell your vehicle, get the non-owner's policy (paying for it for 6 months up front), then buy a car to install the interlock device on and insure that car for max limits, which you'll only have to pay by the month. You can have two policies and they will reinstate your license. This saves a ton of money, even though it's inconvenient. Just a heads up.

Also, for anyone wondering the answer to the question Scaredbeyond posted above, yes, every time you visit the jail, you get a new mugshot.

Hope some of this helps you poor fools.

John J. on October 01, 2015:

Been a long time since I've visited the blog and want everyone to note that Joe Schmoe is totally incorrect. You cannot just take public transportation for 3 years and avoid the insurance issues any longer. It may have been true at one time,but no longer. You can sit it out if you wish,but the moment you go for insurance you'll still have to acquire the state maximums once you reinstate your license or register a car. I argued with DMV direct in Tallahassee as I was told that I could sit it longer. Your best bet is to lie as to where you live,not with a family member and acquire the non-owner insurance policy. We're all getting ripped off. If they can dish it out then they should be able to take it as well.

Scaredbeyond on May 02, 2015:

Apart from getting your photo taken on the night of your arrest, can some people answer this question. If you are found guilty and the judges sentences you to some time , does you photo get taken again ? In essence two mug shots , different times which mean you have to pay twice to get your photo/s off the websites ?

Scaredbeyond on May 02, 2015:

Julia is on point with everything that happens after a DUI. Permit me to digress a bit, and let me tell you the three things that you need to worry about after a DUI , these days

1. Will you be found guilty, or not in the Court System.

2.Will the DMV reinstate my full driving privilege.

3. Clearing you name off of GOOGLE, and all the extortionist websites.

I want to elaborate more on number 3. Apart from the thousands of dollars that you will need to spend in number 1 and 2. You will need to spend at least another $1000, to have these extortionist mug shot websites, remove your arrest photo. You will spend this if you care about your reputation, and hopefully if the proposed bill against mug shots websites pass. I hope that if the bills past I will be able to I will be able to sue, these sites for taking my money.

I want to tell you lazy people this, start WRITING YOUR SENATORS AND GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT. I say lazy because Julia wrote this article since 2013, and none of you people, perhaps herself , couldn't get a bill passed, to stop these extortionist websites from preying on the misfortune of others. I have already written three lawmakers in Florida and I suggest you do the same NOW, or else you will never get you mug shot off the internet. The two senators you need to write are Darren Soto and Maria Lorts Sachs. Find their respective websites by doing a google search, and send them an email, stating that you would like them to pass a law to prohibit mug shot websites from taking money and to remove your photo if you request so. You also want them to have a free opt out feature.

I had written to former senator Carl Zimmerman about the issue, and he replied to me stating that this bill was very important to him, but it was turned down because of the special interest groups with lots of money from the opposition. He said that he wouldn't be surprised if those mug shot websites did fund the opposition. Unfortunately Carl was not re elected into office, so now,Darren Soto, and Maria Lorts are the only hope left for us. WRITE THEM FOR YOUR OWN SAKE.

Google said that they made an algorithm by the name of HUMMINGBIRD, to prevent mug shot website from ranking high. While I think it may be true and it did work at the time it was created, I don't think it is effective anymore, because these mug shot websites are getting around the algorithm, to rank high on the first page of GOOGLE. I would suggest writing MATT CUTTS of GOOGLE. He is an important figure at GOOGLE and will perhaps look into the matter if he gets a lot of requests to do so. The only way I found a way to make contact with him is via Facebook , because his blogger website doesn't have a way to contact him. Write Matt Cutts and tell them to ban these extortionist website who are taking money from us, and you want him to ban these website from preying on us. Tell him how sketchy and shady these websites are. These website are so shady that they hide in foreign countries or in-corporate their business in a foreign land , their only address is outside of the USA. They don't post phone numbers, and whenever you send them an email, they respond with an automated message, and that's it .

The first amendment law is stupid here in America, for this reason, and here is why. The mug shot websites say it is free speech, and publishing this info is in the operating interest of public safety. Public safety my behind !!!! , when you take money in exchange for removing the arrest info. I will tell you guys something, I did pay one of these sites and I was able to track down the address of the owner of the site. The owners live in SCAM FLORIDA. The owner of one of these sites lives in Palm Coast Florida, and has a big yacht in the front of their home. They just sit down and collect money the wrong way, when you earn bad money or money that isn't blessed , bad things will happen to you. I see stories of people gaining riches overnight but never lived long enough to enjoy the money. I know without a doubt people are hurting because of their reputation on the internet, and I read in some places that people committed suicide because of the embarrassment. I strongly feel that one day these mug shot operates will be their fate in a bad way. I cant enjoy life with money that wasn't earned honestly , or cursed money.

I gather that some here all well educated and professional people who just want to put the DUI behind us. My case is pending, I refused a breath test, and all I can say is that some people say it is good and bad. I think the laws in Florida need to be changed for DUI people that didn't cause a crash or did property damage. I thought that the law was unfair because I would have much rather that the cops do this

a. arrest me.

b. tow my car which I would have to pay and get back.

c take me to the station.

d. leave me there for a day as punishment.

e. don't take my mugshot.

f. Call my family member to pick me up after 24 hrs.

G.Make me pay them $4500 fine instead of this money to a lawyers and let me go. I know many of you don't have this money, but the fact that you would have to pay this is a major deterrent in itself for never letting it happen again.

Many of you who will be reply to this post , need to say how much money are you paying for insurance now, tell us the amount you are paying, so that some of us can get an idea. I also sympathize with you now, because I know the pain and suffering you are feeling now. This is the time when you need to get god into your life. Make him come into your life and forgive you for all the bad in your life. I felt this my DUI was my karma, It was to happen because I was never always an angel, I pray to god everyday that the outcome of my case will be favorable. I might want too leave this country because I know for a fact that the police will harass me whenever, they pull up behind my car. I don't want to go through another DUI ever again !!!!! I have heard stories of cops fishing people when the see previous DUI from your license plates. This is how people get caught with their 2nd and 3rd. If your eyes are red they will arrest you on suspicion of DUI . You better not be driving after " bar hours" even if you are sober, because the stakes get high at these times. I don't want to live my life on thin water. I am also contemplating transferring my car registration out of my personal name, and into the business name, so that they wouldn't have reason to pull me over. I hope this will work. I am not sure though, but I would welcome your input on this idea. A DUI isn't the end of the world, but your life will be a battle or a few months , so be strong and welcome the support you get from those that care about you. Last piece of advise get a dash camera for you car like what everybody who drives in Russia has. Just go on YouTube and type if Russian dash camera video, you will see what I am talking about. Having a dash camera can be your evidence if you ever get caught again, and especially when you are accused of doing something. You need probable cause to make a DUI go away in some instances. Make the investment and buy a dash camera with audio.

janey on March 01, 2015:

A best friend of mine just received a DUI and its such a shock but I am so greatful she is safe and no one was hurt. We are trying to support her by searching all we can about this process and keep her sane through it. This post was very informative and supportive. Thank you very much!

Florida Kid on January 28, 2015:

I thank you all for your sharing, honesty, and openness. I (really, really) enjoy my daily beer, and thank all of you for your blogs. Thanks to your blogs, I refuse the urge to drink until the end the day, when I am in the comfort of my home. I read your posts, every now and then, to remind me of what can and will happen, if I don't stick to my "drink at home" rule. Again, I thank you all for what "could have/should have" happened to me in the past.

God Bless, Florida Kid

DumbGuy0219 on October 19, 2014:

I was arrested one week ago for my first DUI in the State of Florida. I am lucky I have a job where my employer was very understanding about the situation. I spent the night in jail was released on my own accord, however did blow above .15 BAC but below .20 BAC. in the state of Florida this brings some additional penalties. Don't give up if you are in a similar situation. You are allowed to get a hardship license after your 10 day period which will allow you to go to work, school and church (although you must sign up for DUI School first). The hardship license will cost you $206 plus a $25 admin. fee. My attorney will be $2,000, (get a good attorney mine was a former head prosecutor with connections in the court system), although this may still not get me off. I've registered and paid for DUI class which is $276.00 and am attending these courses next weekend ( My attorney suggested I get this course out of the way immediately). If or when you are found guilty you will pay a fine of around $1,000 a $500 dollar reinstatement fee and in my case I will most likely have to install the interlock device, FR 44 insurance which will need to paid up front my quote was $1,620 for 6-months and pay for probation and counceling if ordered by the court. At the end of the day a mistake that will cost me over $8K.

My advice is if this is your first DUI, let it be your last! I've learned my lesson before any penalties. You cannot sit around and feel sorry for yourself, if you are an adult it's just another adult problem that can be solved and as you know in today's America most can be solved with some $$$. Keep working saving money pay the penalties and move on!

HELP on June 16, 2014:

Is this blog still active?

CEE on May 21, 2014:

Well now I have to say your account of what happens is very target spot on for I am going through this now. Yes at first it was anger and resentment that they just want the money and now it is I did this it is part of my life and I must get past it and as with other things in my life. I will prevail for I have been hit with harder health situations than this DUI! I beat cancer in 04 and will get through this situation! I have already done my DUI school and am two weeks away from completing my counseling and got victims impact class already scheduled. All this done before I even go to sign Pretrial Diversion contract. So the only thing I will have to do is report and community service and have boot put on car for 10 days. I actually will have had my 6 month suspension done by the 16th of June and yes it sucks that one has to go and get around with no care from the system, yet hey I did this for no one else did it but me. I was one fo those who was actually home in my aprkign lot and was sleeping 10 feet from my apartment door! Yeah well that is the way the ball bounces and life goes on. I just wish I could get the car booted before the contract as well yet hey all things in good time. My only problem is that I will have to walk everywhere as I had a bike to ride till it was stolen and everything will be accomplished before I get my lic back except for the 12 months of reporting! oh and the community service and the 500.00 contribution to M.A.D.D. Thanks for our story and it is one that millions can tell daily. It is all about the money and nothing more yet who is going to fight for the right of a drunk driver

John J. on May 16, 2014:


It's all well and good for you because you're now known by a different last name,probably divorced and remarried? You also don't have to worry about housing nor being employed and your significant other I'll bet pays the majority of your bills. So its all good for you as you don't have to do anything but ignore what's now the past. Live in my shoes and then start your post over.

The initial posting however should be drafted as a handout and you and all friends and family members should be hanging out outside all the clubs in every corner of Florida…or if you really want to help get involved with the judgmental old hippies with MADD who during their college years were partying every chance they got…just never got nailed. They have so much money and have very high paid lobbyists,actually some of the strongest in Washington D.C. Give them the initial post and let them acquire a nationwide NCOA list and mail the scenario you've laid out to all Americans.

You really want to help,then post your phone number and supply it to all environments that serve alcohol so you can take those who become intoxicated home for free!

The facts you gave are great but need to be publicized everywhere so that any idiot who has prior knowledge may not make a mistake that will haunt them for life….yes life!!!

I'm sure you still drink,that's my guess and I hope you get nailed again.

You can also start a campaign to address the expungement laws so people don't suffer a mistake forever.

matt on May 09, 2014:

Very helpful and insightful.

elf on April 18, 2014:

yes drinking and driving is dangerous.

the laws in florida have gone over board. i paid my dues for dui,completed requirements ( including early termination of probation)

and supervision.

( didn't have good counsel) convicted without evidence.

i hav moved on with my life. having this on my record for 75 yrs is over

kill. florida does not have expungment laws.

Ryan on April 10, 2014:

Just got done going through this. I blew a 0.322 (yea, you read that right). The kicker was, though, that I wasn't driving. I was sitting on my parked car with the ignition off and the keys in my pocket. I happened to be in my usual parking spot in a church parking lot right next to the house of a girl I was seeing at the time. I hadn't driven at all that day. We just happened to be in my car when a cop rolled up to bother us. He asked me if I had been drinking and I quickly told him yes as I figured I was only guilty of curbside drinking at best. Long story short, I ended up getting a DUI without actually driving under the influence. I filed a motion to dismiss based on the fact that he illegally detained me. This was true and we had plenty of case law precedents of this same situation. They judge must have had a shitty night's sleep because he denied my motion. They STILL let me plea no contest to a reduced charge of DUI alcohol or drugs (reduced from DUI .15 or higher or with minor). Ended up with a years probation which was terminated early after 6 months, 100 hours community service, $1000 fine, dui school, "treatment," victim impact. I still have to pay for the FR-44 insurance and get the interlock device as I never even bothered going and paying for the hardship. My suspension is already up, I just have to fork over the rest of the money to cover the DMV portion of the requirements.

Let this be a lesson - you CAN get a DUI without driving a car. My lawyer told me if I was ever in this situation again, make sure I put my keys in the trunk or throw them in the bushes; somewhere they could not possibly be in reach. Obviously the hassle-free option would just be to not drink in your car, but I figured I'd offer that little tip.

Pharme464 on April 02, 2014:

Your goal is to breed all the different dragons cbekkfb

John J. on March 30, 2014:

Hey LeeAnn,

The company I personally used to remove mugshots was/is called Clean Search.

I also wanted to add a tidbit. Don't think for a minute that it's all over and done with after going through the classes fines and all the other state collection/money making processes. I've,after 2years have been denied housing and let it be noted that you will be considered to have a criminal history for the rest of your life unless you live out the 99 years of notation on your record. Your character will always be under attack unless you were under the age of 21, in which case I believe you can have it either sealed or expunged? I am really having a hard time with this as in some cases, convicted felons can after a period of time have their records sealed or expunged. Fact being that I recently ran across someone who works in a county position who was arrested and convicted of trafficking narcotics and assault with a deadly weapon(gun). Not only was he employed by the very state where he was convicted but is also licensed to carry a concealed weapon. He stated that after ten years that the state allows this. What is wrong with this picture.

Florida is simply screwed up in so many ways. The corruption is rampant and I'd bet that most of the police can look back at a time when they were out drinking with their buddies either before becoming a sworn officer or after. I guess they're not normal, well I know most just think who they are once they adorn a badge. Let's not forget the judges and lawyers who are the biggest drunks going, not all but a very large portion.

I'm tired of the comments as the one posted above which stated, well you should not have been drinking and driving.(da!) I guess you live your life in a closet and have been sheltered.

Did you ever hear of a mistake and have you ever been forgiven and not have it held against you for your entire life. I hope that at person gets nailed at something,it doesn't have to be a DUI and let's see how you feel afterward.

I have not had one drink in over 2 years,so what makes me any different now than you now squeaky clean MJ? You are obviously judgmental and not someone who I'd ever want to be around. I'll bet you talk behind the backs of even those people you know.

Truth is it's over but never over!

John J.

still no driving on February 28, 2014:

Was charged in MICHIGAN almost 3 years ago , my first was on my Florida lin. I did all that the court of law required me to do. I moved back to Florida and once again did all over!!! Everything I did there I did over here.

Classes , seen a councilor. ..... etc As I went in to see the councilor I had just received my certification from Michigan. And told him I have it. His exact words to me" if you would have brought this in to them in the beginning I wouldn't have had to do this!!! (Again) then he looks at me and says" I think Michigan was too easy on you, I am requesting treatment" WTH!!!!!I still have no license. I have paid double in everything , both states!!!

tyFromFL on February 06, 2014:

Thanks for posting this Julia. It really helped me through my DUI. Mine was reduced to reckless, but it still matched up with most of what you posted here. After a year, I'm almost finished and ready to move on...

Tony on January 25, 2014:

Ask yourself how many times have you had a DUI. Not how many times you've been cited with one. I don't have enough toes and fingers to count them on. Scary to think about. I never got in trouble for what I did in life, Only the things I got caught at, because I wasn't going to tell on or turn myself in.

Lee Ann on January 24, 2014:

Hi Does anyone know about MUGSHOT REMOVAL services. They all seem like scams. Does anyone know if there is a trustworthy one that can have them removed? Its expensive but I would do it, just don't want to get ripped off. Any info would help. Thankyou

bellthru on January 08, 2014:

Starbucks Cup,

When you are found guilty of DUI, the courts will notify the DMV, the DMV will issue you a timeframe, about 2 weeks, to get covered with DUI insurance. If your insurance company does not report that you are covered with the new premiums, the DMV will issue another suspension on your license. If you have a hardship, it will be suspended. Part of the DUI punishment in Florida is carrying DUI insurance for three consecutive years. There is no wait out period. No lawyers will tell you about this. This is something that happens after your lawyer time is over, your sentence handed down and you go to shop for new DUI insurance. This is the insurance company's own punishment on you that has nothing to do with criminal courts or the DMV/administrative side.

StarbucksCup, you may have escaped DUI rates temporarily. But you will have to carry DUI coverage for 3 straight years no matter when you start.


Good luck, if you beat the system then congrats.

StarbucksCup on January 03, 2014:

the scary thing is, a lot of auto insurance companies do not even run a driving history check before they give u an insurance quote. this helps drunk drivers get back on the road with affordable insurance.

trust me, i needed an fr44 filing for a while too, so i have experience. i did not need to pay the $244/month you needed to because my insurance company didn't even check to see if I needed one. i paid one third of that.

in my experience, 4autoinsurancequote doesn’t check and i’m sure a lot of others don’t either. although i got away with it, IMO, drunk drivers should not be able to get insurance THAT easy.

Anonymous on December 31, 2013:

I had my first DWI 7 months ago and going through this painstaking process and I have interlock. I see the probation officer once a week and am forced to attend AA 7 days a week. Almost done with counseling and I don't know when my next court date is. Its very scarey. Please don't drink and drive, its not worth it and once you are in the system, they will make your life very difficult and extremely inconvenient! Be safe and always get a designated driver! God bless you.

Will on December 20, 2013:

Thank you for taking the time to type this and tell your story...very informative and helpful.

Angela on December 14, 2013:

First off thank you so much for taking the time to write this article. It was very insightful. But for some reason...I am having a hell of time getting the "hardship Lisc" issue taken care due to the following....

I was arrested in Florida for a DUI back in April 2013. I did have my Georgia Lisc on me because I am a resident of Georgia: I was only visiting , however when arrested they did not put the DUI on my Georgia Lisc., instead they slammed the DUI on an old EXPIRED NON EXISTENT Floirda lisc., I had many years ago when I lived there. Since then I have moved to Georgia over 6 years ago where I am and have been a resident. I am trying to get my hardship lisc., but because it's on a lisc that doesn't exsist this is complicating matters. Hope this makes sense and any help would be appreciated.

Let me add when this happened, I hired an attorney in Florida who represented me, because I returned home ( Georgia) and I got probation which I am currently on and received 6 months probation. So today I go and get my hardship lisc here in georgia and was told I could not get the hardship because it shows that there is a "Citation" on my record. Clearly their is, the DUI on the EXPIRED Florida Lisc which I turned over to the DDS here in Georgia when I got my new Georgia Lisn. . So confusing...why would a police officer arrest me and not put the DUI on my VALID Georgia lisc???

Corey on December 11, 2013:

What do I do about insurance? State Farm won't have me for 5 years! Who should I talk to that would help me find all this out?

emt on December 10, 2013:

Ms. Julia,

I only wanted to take a moment of your time to sincerely thank you for your informative "What to expect when getting a DUI in FL.."

It was informative so much so that I printed your blog to keep with me as "reference" throughout this trying process.

I am at my wits end on how to handle this obstacle as I too have a family, career, etc. on the line. Lots of Praying and continuous diligence to stay on top of the issue at hand along with your experienced words of wisdom seem to be the best answer.

Best of Luck to you and your family and Happy Holidays

AlrightyThen on December 03, 2013:

Harmony, I know this reply is about two weeks late, but no need to stress out about the evaluation. Almost everyone gets referred to treatment anyways. Check any "yes" boxes on the questionnaire and you get flagged as an alcohol abuser; but if you don't click any "yes" boxes then they say you are lying and get referred anyways.

Whatever you say, just stick with it. I brought in my arrest affidavit to the eval which had lots of LOL and embarrassing details in it. At my eval, the person was really confrontational - accusing me of lying within the first 3 minutes of sitting down. Pretty awkward and it felt like I was definitely going to be referred. But I wasn't. No rhyme or reason to any of it. They have a lot of discretion. Also, just as Julia said above, someone showed up to my class really high on pills of some sort and got booted from the class.

As it turns out, the providers who do the evaluations in one part of my county are the treatment providers on the other side of the county (and vice versa). So they keep referring people to providers so that they will return the favor on the other side of the county. Quite the racket indeed.

I am also hoping for a reckless driving in my case. Similar story to other folks on here, clean driving record, first DUI, no accident/kids in the car, didn't blow or do the exercises...etc etc. I will follow up for the sake of future readers once I find out my fate. I wish more people who have posted on this thread would follow up with their results.

Harmony on November 13, 2013:

Hi All...just found this post when searching for DUI evaluation questions. I have my evaluation this afternoon and am a nervous wreck. What can I expect? I didn't blow. Does that look like I'm already trying to be deceptive and an automatic trigger?

gabs on November 01, 2013:

karl who was your layer?

Karl on October 25, 2013:

This is a really good description of what happens when you get a DUI. I wish I had found it when I went through mine, I went through a year of court and was a nervous wreck the entire time. "Don't worry about it" is what I kept hearing, easy for others to say. The lawyer I hired is an ex-prosecutor for Hillsborough County who now has a his own firm, and he was able to get the escalated DUI charge reduced (i had over a .3 BAL). The vehicle impound and interlock were waived. I had to plea to the DUI, but it was a lot less painful and inexpensive.

Jessica on October 07, 2013:

My boyfriend just received a DUI so this article was very helpful in realizing what he will (and lets be honest, so will I), are going to be going through for the next few months. I know everybody makes mistakes, I am not judging you, it just sucks people have to get a DUI just to learn the hard way. Again, thank you!

bellthru on September 29, 2013:

Oh, and I did DUI counterattack in Brandon. I had the old cop as my instructor, he was pretty cool. I had my evaluation in Tampa though, over by HCC.

bellthru on September 29, 2013:

Anonymity123, I typed up another reply and hit post, but I guess it didn't go through cuz it's not showing.

I'm feeling lucky you hit up this site again. I really appreciate you going into detail like that. I think I'm gonna find out this week if I'm getting a reckless plea. My pretrial is next week.

I have already been to DUI school. I got "treatment recommended, but not required," during my evaluation. Basically the only two questions that flagged me as an 'addict' are that I admitted to having a hangover once in my life and then that I refused the breath test. Those were the only two flags. I actually lied on the very first question saying I drank nothing at all the night of my stop. The counselor LOLd asking why I refused the breath test then, to which I replied "I heard you should always refuse b/c the calibration is frequently messed up." That blatant lie got me treatment recommended and not required. I'm assuming I'll still have to do it regardless of the verdict.

As far as my field tests, Braxton says I have some good things and some bad things in it. I dont get a straight answer from him on much, but I know he's being a good lawyer in the way he is answering. He does seem like you could BS with him on the phone, using words like "Bro" and "see ya man." Overall I think he is a good guy, and I retained him for 4500, maybe your retainer was more because you had an accident.

And thanks for the advice on keeping my head up. I haven't been doing a good job at easing my mind. Dwelling is also the worst part for me.

anonymity123 on September 29, 2013:

Bellthru. You are lucky. I randomly checked this site again while looking up info if Reckless will require fr44. Some grey area here regarding reckless and required insurance. Google wet and dry reckless in FL.

Did you do the road side tests? If so, how did you perform? In my case, the trooper was careless and I wasn't even in most of the video. So that gave Braxton some more to work w