DUI charges and convictions in Florida

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Drunk driving offenses are criminal offenses in Florida. Convictions may be able to be expunged under certain circumstances.

Being arrested for drunk driving charges can be a very scary thing for a Florida resident. Concerns can include everything from whether or not driving privileges will be lost to how much a defense or fines might cost and more. Another thing that a person needs to be concerned with is the potential of having a criminal conviction on a record for life. Just how is this handled in Florida?

What is a conviction?

As explained by Black's Law Dictionary, the law uses the term "adjudication" when referencing convictions. An adjudication with guilt is essentially a conviction. In some criminal cases, a person may receive what is called an adjudication withheld. This means that the person has been found guilty but that a final adjudication, or conviction, has been withheld.

What happens with an adjudication withheld?

According to the Florida Bar, adjudication withheld generally is issued in exchange for the agreement by the defendant to complete specific actions. This may involve paying certain fines, completing a probation sentence, or something else. It gives defendants a way to avoid having a criminal conviction on their records. This can be very helpful in providing for future opportunities as no convictions will appear on background checks, for example.

What types of charges can receive adjudication withheld?

There are specific guidelines governing with what types of charges courts may use the adjudication withheld decision. The Florida Statutes reports that they may not be used for any first-degree felony charges, capital charges or life charges. Some second- or third-degree felony charges may be able to receive an adjudication withheld but they must meet very specific criteria.

Can DUI defendants receive adjudication withheld?

Florida law expressly forbids courts from granting adjudication withheld decisions in drunk driving cases. This therefore makes it impossible for drivers to avoid criminal records unless they are successfully found not guilty of the charges.

Can a DUI adjudication be expunged?

Florida law does allow for some drunk driving convictions to be permanently removed from a person's record. However, this process is extremely complicated and defendants must meet very stringent requirements in order to have such a request approved.

The process of applying for and receiving a criminal expungement should always be done with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. This is the best way for defendants to know that all of the required details are properly tended to and any potential problems are appropriately addressed up front.