Failure to Appear for a Florida DUI

Court & DUIBeing arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) is a nerve-wracking event. Not only that, but the initial DUI arrest is only the beginning of the DUI case. Once a DUI case is started, the DUI defendant is going to have to secure a defense attorney, and they’re going to have to appear before a judge.

Let’s face it, no one looks forward to standing in front of a judge – it’s a lot like getting in trouble and being sent to the principal’s office only a lot worse. Still, going to court is necessary and you have to show up for your scheduled court hearings.

Whenever you’re facing criminal charges, including charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be required to “show up” in court at a specific date and time.

If you fail to attend your required court appearances, you can face entirely separate criminal charges, which involve fines and imprisonment. Failing to appear can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the original offense and the circumstances of the case.

For example, if you’re facing felony DUI charges and you don’t show up at your scheduled court hearing, you can face third degree felony charges – which are entirely separate from the original DUI offense.

Failure to Appear Under Florida Law

In Florida, “failure to appear” is covered under Sections 901.31 and 843.15 of the Florida Statutes.

Under Sec. 901.31, if you fail to appear at a scheduled court appearance, you face a fine that is up to the fine for the original charge, or you can be imprisoned for the maximum amount of time for the offense that you are being charged with, or both can happen.

Whenever a DUI defendant is released on bail, and he or she fails to appear in court, he or she will be charged with a separate offense under Section 843.15 of the Florida Statutes. Under this section, the penalties for failing to appear after being released on bail include:

  • If the defendant’s original charge was for felony DUI, he or she will be charged with a felony of the third degree for failing to appear.
  • If the defendant was released in connection to a misdemeanor DUI, he or she will be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree.

No matter what, it’s critical that you show up for all of your scheduled court dates, whether it’s for a traffic ticket, a DUI, or another criminal offense. The courts take failure to appear very seriously as is evidenced by the harsh punishments imposed on defendants.

Even if you are supposed to work on the day of your court date, and even if you have non-refundable airline tickets to Europe, you must show up in court. Otherwise, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest and your driver’s license can be suspended if it isn’t already.

If you are facing DUI charges in Miami, or if you missed a scheduled court appearance, I urge you to contact my firm, Jonathan Blecher, P.A. for a free case evaluation. As a former prosecutor with over 30 years’ experience, I have the knowledge and tools to defend you in court.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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