A DUI conviction entails many consequences beyond those that occur in the courtroom. Some of the penalties for a DUI conviction are fairly well known. For instance, most people probably know that a DUI conviction can lead to significant fines and a suspended license. It is also somewhat common knowledge that you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car, paid for out-of-pocket, as a result of a DUI conviction. While these are probably the most well-known consequences of a DUI conviction, there are other less commonly known collateral consequences that naturally flow from a DUI conviction’s interaction with other Florida Statutes.
One of these additional consequence of a DUI conviction comes as a result of Florida’s mandatory adjudication statute. Florida Statute § 316.656 states that a court may not suspend, defer, or withhold adjudication of guilt or imposition of a sentence for any violation of Florida’s driving under the influence statute.
The difference between a withhold of adjudication and an adjudication of guilt can have various legal implications. A withhold of adjudication is not considered a criminal conviction in certain contexts, and can spare the defendant from some of the collateral consequences of a conviction. For example, for the purposes of Florida Statute § 790.23, prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms, a conviction means an adjudication of guilt. Although an ordinary DUI charge is not a felony, this is just one example of why a withhold of adjudication is preferable to an adjudication of guilt. Many background checks will also only consider adjudications of guilt as convictions. The fact that adjudication cannot be withheld for a DUI conviction thus makes the possible consequences even more serious.
Another often overlooked consequence of a DUI conviction is the financial responsibility requirement. Under Florida Statute § 324.023, anyone convicted of driving under the influence after October 1, 2017, must provide proof of bodily injury liability insurance with limits of $100,000 per person, $300,000 per occurrence, and $50,000 for property damage. The driver can provide proof of this coverage through an FR44 form certifying financial responsibility. A driver must maintain this heightened liability coverage for three years from the time that his or her license is reinstated.
Insurance companies make money by assessing the risk presented by each insured driver and adjusting the rate in accordance with that driver’s risk. Requiring this level of liability insurance as a result of a DUI puts you in the high-risk category in the eyes of insurance companies, and as such, your rates will significantly increase. Although this heightened liability coverage is only required for three years, the increased insurances premiums can continue beyond that.
All criminal convictions are serious, but a DUI conviction in particular can have consequences and implications that will affect your life for years to come. It is essential that anyone facing a DUI charge to seek counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can navigate this legal minefield. If you or a loved one has been accused of driving under the influence, or any other crime, please do not hesitate to contact our firm to see how we can assist you.