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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Real Cost of a DUI Charge

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Last month I covered the costs incurred when a driver gets a traffic citation.  This month I thought I'd concentrate on one of the costliest infractions.  If you should be charged with driving while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, you're going to find out just how costly the legal system can be in terms of time and money.  That's because a DUI is taken very seriously by the courts, especially in Florida, which is a zero-tolerance state.  Just how seriously depends on three things: How intoxicated you were, whether it was your first time being so charged, and if there were other charges filed that related to the DUI.  Below are ten things you need to know about when it comes to driving while under the influence.

#1: Just because it's your first time doesn't mean the court is going to go easy on you. - Some of the penalties imposed on first-time offenders can include everything from fines that range from $500-$5,000, to license suspension, impoundment of a vehicle, and possible jail time.  While there is no mandatory jail time required of first-time DUI offenders, offenders can be given sentences ranging from six months to five years depending on the charges.  Florida judges are currently required to place all first-time offenders whose sentences don't exceed one year on probation.  However, one of the conditions for those on probation is to complete at least fifty hours of community service.  The judge may also require those convicted of DUI who had a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher to install an Ignition Interlock Device that disables a vehicle should the device detect even a hint of alcohol on one's breath.  (The cost to install an IID is $75-$150 with a monthly service fee of $60-$90.)

#2: Party now, pay later. - As nightmarish as being arrested for a DUI might seem, depending on your situation when pulled over, you could be facing enhanced penalties that can make your situation even worse. If your blood alcohol concentration was at or above .15, this can double the fines and criminal penalties.  The same is true if you had a passenger in your car aged eighteen or younger or caused minor damage to property or injured another person.  Should you cause serious bodily injury while under the influence, you may face jail time of five years and a fine of $5,000 as a first-time offender.

#3: Can you be stone cold sober and still be charged with a DUI? - You bet you can.  Driving while under the influence includes everything from alcohol consumption to drug use.  Even the legal use of prescription drugs can land you in jail if you display impaired judgment while behind the wheel.  If you're arrested for a DUI, expect to spend a minimum of eight hours in jail, provided you can afford to pay from $100-$750 in bail.  If you can't make bail, you'll be incarcerated until you can go in front of a judge to plead for what's known as a supervised pretrial release in lieu of bail.

#4: In Florida, you don't have to be convicted to have your license suspended. - Innocent until proven guilty doesn't apply when it comes to having your license suspended if you're charged with a DUI.  Any motorist who is arrested on such a charge can expect to have their license suspended for six months should they register as little as .08 BAC.  Those who refuse a breathalyzer test face a suspension of one year.

#5: What other expenses can you expect to pay if you're charged with DUI? - Aside from court costs and legal fees, a judge can require a person charged with DUI to participate in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program.  The cost for such programs can range from $2,000-$25,000 depending on the treatment and facility nominated by the judge.  While some of the rehab costs may be absorbed by health insurance, those who are uninsured will be required to pay these expenses out of pocket.  

#6: How long does it take for DUI charges to be processed? - That depends on where you live.  In rural areas, charges may take anywhere from 3-6 months to be filed. In major metropolitan areas, those accused of a DUI can expect it to take upwards of a year.  In the meantime, you'll have to contend with all the inconvenience and stigma that the charge can bring.

#7: How can you get around if your license is suspended? - Those whose license has been suspended due to a DUI can apply for a hardship license.  This will only allow driving to and from work, school, doctor's appointments, and church.  An administrative suspension can apply regardless of whether a person is convicted of the charge or not.  If the accused refuses a breathalyzer test, a hardship license will be withheld for the first ninety days of the suspension.

#8: How long will a DUI conviction stay on a driving record? - In Florida, a DUI conviction will stay on a driver's record for 75 years.  This means even a first offense can result in complications that can last a lifetime.  Anyone running a criminal background check will discover a DUI conviction.  This can affect everything from obtaining gainful employment to obtaining auto insurance.

#9: How much worse can the situation get if you've had a previous DUI? - Those who wind up convicted of a second DUI can expect increased fines and mandatory jail time of ten days to nine months.  Those who are charged three or more times within ten years could wind up in state prison for five years.  They may also find their driver's license revoked permanently by the court if you are a repeat offender

#10: How will a DUI conviction affect your auto insurance? - A DUI conviction can not only cost you thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of inconvenience, the final ignominy is that it will affect your auto insurance coverage as well.  That's right, many insurers can and do cancel auto coverage for motorists who are convicted of a DUI.  Those who do provide coverage to those with a DUI on their record will charge significantly higher rates for coverage.  That's because not only do insurers consider those with a DUI on their record a high-risk driver, that same driver is required by the state to increase their coverage levels to $300,000 death and disability coverage, $100,000 bodily injury, and $50,000 property coverage.  Drivers who do secure a 300/100/50 policy can expect to pay the increased cost of coverage for 3-5 years.  

The bottom line is every driver needs to think twice before they drink and drive.   It's much cheaper to take an Uber than it is to shoulder the cost of a DUI.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more about saving money on all your insurance needs, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

How to Prevent Identity Theft

By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

If you're like most people, you value your privacy.  The problem is in this wired world of ours, privacy is hard to come by.  Cameras using facial recognition monitor your movements. Corporations mine the data you produce when you surf the web or send a text.  Government agencies monitor your phone calls.  Even your boss might be snooping on you when you use a company computer.  As bad as all that sounds, there's one invasion of privacy that trumps all of these by far.  That's when a cybercriminal steals your identity for financial gain.  Not only can this kind of crime result in a financial loss, it can also come to haunt you for years to come.  Below are ten ways you can help prevent identity theft.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

All About Business Insurance

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

Owning a successful business is nothing to take lightly.  It takes the vision to see a need that begs to be fulfilled.  Then it takes the guts to risk your hard-earned money to enter a competitive marketplace to acquire a piece of the pie.  It also takes a long-term commitment of personal time to make sure your ship of commerce stays afloat.  Even if all of the above are accomplished to perfection, a successful business still needs to avoid many obstacles that can derail or destroy it without warning.  That's why business insurance was created.  If you own a business, or are thinking of starting one, you need to understand the perils that potentially lay ahead of you as well as the products that can protect your venture from calamities large and small.  Below are ten ways business insurance can help you protect your enterprise.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

10 Ways to Build a Home-Based Business

 By Catherine Powell

Courtesy of Pixabay
Courtesy of Pixabay.com

While much of the news surrounding COVID-19 has been bad, there was at least one positive note.  More people got to work from home.  If you were one of them and are looking to build your profit base, or you were sucked back into the corporate world and want to build a home-based business of your own, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.  Like any business venture, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about creating, marketing, and growing what's known as a SOHO business. (Small Office, Home Office) Get it right and you'll be able to create a second income or even a primary income that will allow you to break those corporate shackles.  Get it wrong and you could wind up deep in debt, or even in violation of the law.  To help you steer through the minefield of running a profitable business from home, I've come up with a list of ten do's and don'ts that will make sure your ship of commerce doesn't wind up on the rocks.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Interested in Owning an Electric Vehicle?

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

While gas prices may have fallen a bit as of late, who can forget paying $5.00 a gallon or more at the pump?  I know I won't and this isn't something that most people will forget for quite some time.  As a result, many motorists have expressed an interest in owning an electric vehicle.  A few years ago, EVs were something of a rarity.  But today, every major car manufacturer has an e-car or two in their inventory.  While many consumers were put off by the high sticker prices of many EVs, not only have the prices dropped on some models, but the federal government offers up to $7,500 in tax credits on many EVs.  So, if you're looking to trade that gas guzzler for a vehicle that you can plug-in instead of paying through the nose at the pump, here's what you need to know.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Terrible Truth About Traffic Tickets

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

If you're a licensed driver in Florida like I am, then it should come as no surprise that there are lots of drivers who don't follow the rules of the road.  In fact, on average a traffic accident occurs every 90-seconds in the Sunshine State.  (401,170 in 2021) That doesn't count for all the traffic tickets written to drivers who committed infractions. (2,479,904 statewide and 155,424 in Duval County alone in 2021)  While getting a traffic citation can mean paying a heavy fine, it can also cause your auto insurance rates to rise.  To keep you from having to find out the hard way just what a traffic ticket can cost you in the long run, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share some thoughts on that subject.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

How to Rid Your Residence of Rodents

 By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy Pixabay

The pitter-patter of little feet is usually something that makes most folks smile, unless the sound is the result of rodents running overhead as they scamper through your attic.  Living in the city means that rodents are everywhere.  The reason most people don't see rats and mice all that often is because they're nocturnal by nature.  That means when we go to bed they clock in for the night shift.  Cagey by nature, they know how to avoid our pets while pursuing the three things that make life worthwhile: food, shelter, and mates.  While wild creatures, they are not averse to setting up housekeeping in our homes or yards.  Once entrenched, these furry little rascals can be extremely hard to evict.  Worse still is the fact that any damage to your property caused by rodents is NOT covered by homeowner's insurance.  The best way to deal with a rodent infestation is to avoid one.  In today's blog I'll teach you ten ways to convince Mickey and Minnie to try someplace else other than your home to live in.

The Real Cost of a DUI Charge

 By Catherine Powell Image courtesy of Pixabay Last month I covered the costs incurred when a driver gets a traffic citation.  This month I ...