An arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is already a very costly issue. Now, the City of St. Petersburg has made it even more expensive for those arrested for DUI.
Florida law already allows for substantial court costs and fines for a DUI. A first time DUI with a Breath or Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) below .15 in Pinellas County carries minimum mandatory costs and fines of $983.00, while a first time DUI with a BAC at or above .15 carries mandatory costs and fines of $1518.00. Costs and fines go up substantially for subsequent DUI offenses with even steeper costs and fines for subsequent offenses within five years of a prior offense.
St. Petersburg’s City Council recently approved an ordinance that will now allow St. Petersburg Police to charge a $500 fine above and beyond the statutory fines under Florida law. The ordinance went into effect on October 12, 2017. Additionally, towing and storage fees will be charged to get the vehicle back from the impound lot. Many drivers arrested for DUI in St. Petersburg may be confused as to why they are being fined $500 when their criminal court case may not have even started yet. Because the $500 falls under a city ordinance, it is a civil fine and not tied directly to the criminal DUI case or the final outcome of such a case. Only a DUI arrest, not a conviction for DUI, is required for the St. Petersburg Police Department to levy the $500 fine.
Council members interviewed about the fine stated that they see the additional penalty as a way to further dissuade individuals from driving while intoxicated.
A similar fine already exists in St. Petersburg for drivers who are charged with drug or prostitution related activity.
Other cities in Pinellas County are not considering or currently issuing a civil fine to drivers arrested for DUI.
Drivers can contest the fine and request a hearing with the City. In some circumstances the City’s decision may be appealed to the circuit or traffic court handling the criminal case according to St. Petersburg Police legal advisor Sasha Lohn. A criminal defense attorney can represent an individual in such an appeal in the circuit or traffic court.
If you have been stopped and arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) you should consult with a criminal defense attorney who can explain the criminal justice process and potential consequences. Contact the Morris Law Firm at (727) 388-4736, Option 1 for New Clients, for a strategic review of your DUI or criminal case and potential defenses. The Morris Law Firm represents clients throughout the Tampa Bay Area, including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, Pasco, and Manatee counties and is located in St. Petersburg, Florida.