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DUI Defense: Got a DUI in Tampa While on Vacation, Now What?

You should leave your vacation with a suntan, some souvenirs, and great memories. Unfortunately for some unlucky drivers, you might leave your Florida vacation with a driving under the influence (DUI) charge.

The nice weather, sunshine, and laid-back, vacation-like atmosphere make it easy to get carried away. And when you get behind the wheel after having too much to drink, you can face serious consequences.

If you’re facing these charges, you need a DUI defense attorney who is based in Florida. Read on to learn more about what to look for.

Understanding Florida Laws

Even if you don’t live in the state of Florida, they can still arrest you and charge you with DUI there. By driving on Florida roads, you are consenting to follow Florida laws. Even if your driver’s license is from another state.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Limits

Similar to other states, the legal limit in Florida is 0.08. But, if your BAC is higher than this, you can be charged with DUI. And, if your BAC is 0.15 or higher, you can face enhanced penalties.

If you are younger than 21, the legal BAC limit is 0.02 and if you are driving a commercial vehicle, it is 0.04. You also may not drive under the influence of controlled substances.

Interstate Compacts

If you get arrested for a DUI in Florida, you can’t leave the state and ignore your charges.

Florida is part of the Driver’s License Compact, which is shared across 45 states and the District of Columbia. Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are the only states that are not members.

The Driver’s License Compact requires its members to share information with other member states. When a non-resident is arrested or cited. For example, if you have a driver’s license in one of the 44 other states that are part of the compact and you get a DUI in Florida. Then Florida will report that to the state that issued your license.

This also means that the state that issued your license agrees to treat the offense as if it happened in your home state, including the penalties and driver’s license suspension that would come with the offense.

In addition, Florida is a member of the Non-Resident Violators Compact (NRVC). The NRVC was created in the 1970s and 44 states are members. The goal of the NRVC is to ensure that moving violations are reported across states.

If you get a speeding ticket in a state that is a member of the NRVC but is not your home state, that state will report your violation to the state that issued your license. Not all violations fall under the scope of the NRVC, but most do. This means that you can’t ignore tickets in other states once you return home, as you will face points, fines, and license suspensions there as well.

What to Do if You Are Charged With DUI While in Florida on Vacation

If you are charged with a DUI in Florida, whether you live here or not, you will immediately receive an administrative suspension of your license. You have 10 days from the date of your arrest to file a request for a temporary driving permit, which will allow you to drive for work, school, or medical purposes. If you don’t file this request within 10 days, they will suspend your license.

Your first step after the arrest should be to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney to help with this process. Those are the first steps. Once you handle this first penalty, you can work with your attorney to focus on the penalties. If convicted of DUI.

If your attorney cannot get the charges dropped. Then you face fines, additional license suspensions, and potentially jail time, depending on your prior DUI record. Penalties for your first DUI offense include:

  • A fine of between $500 and $1000 (or between $1000 and $2000 if your BAC was 0.15 or higher or if there was a minor in the car)
  • Incarceration for up to six months (or up to nine months if your BAC was 0.15 or higher or if there was a minor in the car)
  • License suspension of between 180 days and one year (if there was bodily injury, the suspension is a minimum of three years)

If the court allows it, you could serve your time of imprisonment in a residential drug or alcohol treatment program.

Appearing in Court

When you are charged with DUI, you will receive a court date and you will be required to appear. In some instances, your attorney may be able to have your appearance in court waived and appear for you.

However, when you are charged with more serious offenses, such as a felony, or you are facing a trial, you will need to be present in court. If you do not show up to your hearing, a judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.

Your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for you to avoid appearing back in court. There is a possibility that the plea bargain could come with punishments in your home state, not Florida. So you can avoid having to travel back to the state.

Your attorney will be able to advise you on how to proceed. This is another reason why it is so important to hire an attorney who is based in Florida, not your home state.

Hire the Best DUI Defense Lawyer in Tampa

A DUI defense lawyer is a must if you are facing DUI charges in Florida. Don’t hire an attorney from your home state. As they may not be licensed to practice law in Florida and may not understand the laws.

Contact us at RHINO Lawyers for a free case consultation. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, don’t delay in doing this. We are available 24/7.


RHINO Lawyers can help and guide you through a system molded by law enforcement, judges, and lawyers for decades. Having won cases for our clients in similar circumstances, our criminal defense team knows what it takes to fight on your behalf.

Let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at (844) RHINO-77.