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A DUI can crush the holiday season

Some of the biggest parties of the year take place in the month of December. That is when friends, families and co-workers gather in various configurations for holiday celebrations.

It is also the time when Florida law enforcement agencies, including the Fort Myers Police Department, ramp up efforts to detect and arrest drunk driving suspects. For many of those arrested for DUI, the end of the year will find them facing the possibility of spending time behind bars, paying significant fines and having their driving privileges yanked.

The state of Florida has some of the nation's harshest DUI penalties. On its website, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says that for a first DUI conviction, the fine is not less than $500 and not more than $1,000. For people who have a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher, or who have a minor in the vehicle, the fine will be at least $1,000 and at most, $2,000.

Community Service
Those convicted of a first-time drunken driving offense are also required to perform a mandatory 50 hours of community service. They can opt out of the service by paying an extra fine of $10 for each hour of community service required.

Probation and imprisonment
A first DUI conviction can also result in probation of up to a year. It can also mean jail time of a maximum of six months. Note: your total of jail and probation for a first conviction cannot exceed one year.

Other penalties include vehicle impoundment and substantial fines. It is also likely that DUI offenders will pay significantly higher car insurance.

Add it all up and it's clear that a year-end mistake at a party could wind up costing thousands of dollars in the new year. You can discuss ways to avoid the harshest penalties with a Fort Myers attorney experienced in DUI defense.

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