Accessible and Fair Counsel You Can Trust Schedule a Consultation
Law hammer, alcohol and car keys on wooden table

How Long Does a Florida DUI Stay on Your Record? Can It Be Expunged?

Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin April 11, 2024

The harsh reality of DUI in Florida: a conviction lingers on your criminal record for 75 years. 

It gets harsher. Per state law, DUI charges can’t be expunged or easily sealed. Only those charged with DUI not resulting in a conviction, with an otherwise clean record within the state of Florida, may have their records sealed. Expungement is not possible under any circumstances. The high bar of removal serves as an additional deterrent to driving dunk in the state of Florida.

But conviction isn’t the only outcome of a DUI charge. There are also fines and community service imposed on anyone convicted of driving with blood alcohol beyond legal limits. 

If you need to discuss a DUI charge in Florida, contact Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin today. Our firm is located in Cocoa and serves clients throughout Brevard County, including the communities of Titusville, Melbourne, and Palm Bay. We’re ready to fight for your best result.  

Plead to a Lesser Charge 

It’s not uncommon for prosecutors to agree to reduce DUI charges to reckless driving. Of course, there is no formula for this so there’s no way to say under what circumstances this outcome is possible. 

But pleading guilty to a lesser charge allows the court to withhold adjudication. Without adjudication of the DUI, the trial can be expunged from your record. You can then also seal the record of reckless driving. 

When a record is sealed, you can legally deny the conviction. In practical terms, it’s as if it never happened. The conviction to the lesser charge will still be visible to certain government agencies, but not the public. 

Pre-Trial Diversion Program 

If you are facing your first charge of DUI in Florida, you may be eligible to enter a diversion program sponsored by the State Attorney’s Office of Brevard and Seminole County. 

Participants must meet a series of eligibility requirements and sign a contract to agree to the program terms. Successful completion will lead to the dismissal of the DUI charges. That means no conviction to permanently mar your record. 

But space in the program is limited and the requirements are stringent, so this isn’t always an option. 

Hire an Experienced DUI Lawyer 

Any time you face a complex or significant legal challenge, hiring an attorney is a wise decision. But if you’ve been charged with DUI in Florida, it’s critical. 

Even if you want to try for a lesser charge or be accepted into a diversion program, an attorney can make the process less stressful for you. Plus, you are often more likely to be accepted into a diversion program or have charges reduced when you have legal representation. 

Attorneys are comfortable with the legal system and know how to navigate processes and procedures. They are fluent in the language of law. They know how to protect and exercise your rights. 

Having that kind of professional in your corner when facing a DUI in Florida can be the difference between a short-lived difficulty and a life-long criminal record. 

Attorneys with experience helping clients charged with DUI know what to do to help you get the best possible outcome. They understand that avoiding conviction is most people’s goal. When you hire an attorney, he or she can present you with all legal options for keeping your record clean of a DUI conviction. 

Factors to Consider 

There can be many circumstances that make your DUI charge complex. Examples include: 

  • It’s your second DUI (or third or fourth). 

  • You’re under the legal drinking age. 

  • You were driving without a valid license. 

  • There are co-existing charges. 

In reality, many DUI cases are complex, and hiring an attorney to represent you is essential. Remember, a conviction of a DUI in Florida cannot be expunged for 75 years. Essentially, that's the rest of your life. 

The Ins and Outs of License Suspension 

As soon as you are arrested for DUI, your license is suspended by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). If it’s your first offense, the suspension will be for 6 months. If you’ve faced previous suspensions for DUI, you’ll lose your license for 18 months. 

An attorney can advise you on any possible exceptions to those terms. For example, they know that for the first 10 days after your arrest, the ticket presented during your arrest acts as a permit to drive but only to and from your place of business. 

During those same 10 days, you can request an Administrative Hearing. This is a procedure to determine if the arresting officer had probable cause for the arrest. If there is reasonable doubt about the cause, the DUI charges can be dropped, and you avoid a conviction on your permanent record. 

An attorney has the experience to advise on the benefits of exercising your right to an Administrative Hearing. 

If you don’t opt for an Administrative Hearing, you can receive a Business Purpose Only (BPO) license right away, provided you are facing your first DUI charge. 

Don’t Treat a DUI in Florida Lightly 

The consequences of drinking and driving in Florida are serious, and penalties grow more severe with every previous conviction you may have. This is also true if you cause an accident where there is a loss of life. 

And while facing DUI charges, follow all restrictions, limits, or requirements imposed by the court or State. Every act of compliance can only help improve the chances you’ll avoid conviction. 

Florida's Criminal Statute of Limitations 

A criminal statute of limitations is a legal time frame within which the state must begin criminal prosecution. This period varies depending on the severity of the offense.  

For misdemeanors in Florida, it's generally 2 years, while for felonies, it can range from 3 years to no limit at all. Specifically, for first-degree felonies, there is a limitation period of 4 years, but certain crimes, such as murder, manslaughter, sexual battery, and DUI manslaughter, have no statute of limitations, allowing the state to prosecute these offenses at any time, regardless of how much time has passed since the commission of the crime.  

This legal structure ensures that justice can be sought while also imposing constraints to prevent the indefinite threat of prosecution. 

Florida DUI FAQs 

How much can a DUI conviction cost me in Florida? 

The financial cost of a DUI conviction in Florida can be substantial. First-time DUI offenses can result in fines ranging from $500 to $2,000. If your blood alcohol level was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, fines can increase to between $2,000 and $4,000.  

These figures don't include legal fees, increased insurance rates, costs associated with DUI school, vehicle impoundment, and the potential for an ignition interlock device to be installed at your expense. Overall, costs can exceed several thousand dollars. 

What impact does a DUI conviction have on my insurance rates in Florida? 

A DUI conviction in Florida will likely result in a significant increase in your car insurance premiums. DUIs are viewed as high-risk behavior by insurance companies, and as a result, drivers convicted of DUI may be moved to a high-risk insurance category.  

This categorization often leads to higher premiums. Also, Florida law requires DUI convicts to carry increased amounts of certain types of car insurance, further driving up costs. The increased rates can last for several years following a conviction. 

Can a DUI in Florida affect my employment opportunities?  

A DUI conviction in Florida can indeed have long-lasting effects on employment prospects. Many employers perform background checks as a part of their hiring process, and a DUI conviction on your record could potentially make you less attractive as a candidate, especially if the position requires driving.  

Additionally, some professions that require state licensure or certifications may deem a DUI conviction as a disqualifying factor. It is essential to understand that a DUI doesn't just carry immediate legal consequences but can also hinder your career advancement and opportunities in the future. 

Take Action Today 

If you’re in the unfortunate and stressful position of being arrested for DUI, hire an attorney with DUI experience right away. 

Once you’re comfortable with their approach and you hire them, listen to their advice. Your attorney knows better than anyone that facing DUI charges in Florida can be serious. Your lawyer is there to represent your best interests. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Florida, contact us right away. We’re available 24/7 and have Spanish-speaking interpreters available.