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What You Need to Know About Florida’s DUI Laws and Penalties


Having one alcoholic drink too many, and then deciding to drive a motor vehicle can come with severe consequences. While under the influence of alcohol, the risks of getting into a motor vehicle collision increase exponentially. The consequences of causing an accident while driving after drinking can impact you and your family for the rest of your life. Because drinking and driving poses a risk for everyone on the roadways, Florida law views the act as a serious offense.

If you are caught driving under the influence (DUI), you will likely face criminal charges with strict penalties. Florida’s Implied Consent Law requires drivers to comply with any breath, urine, or blood test the responding officer requests the driver provides. Failing to comply with the requested testing may necessitate a suspension of your driver’s license for a year or more.

Understanding and abiding by Florida’s DUI laws are critical for keeping you and others safe on the roadways. Choosing to drink and drive can have severe consequences including serious injuries, suspension of your license, and even jail time. If you do make a mistake, however, you still have legal rights that a DUI attorney can help you protect. And if law enforcement made the mistake, a DUI attorney can provide even further protections. An attorney can also assist you with any of the necessary paperwork, documentation, and even the DMV DUI hearing during the legal process.

Florida Statistics and DUI Laws

In just one year, Florida alone issued 43,899 DUI violation tickets, which led to 24,334 DUI convictions. Of those DUI violations, 3,104 occurred in Broward County. Under Florida’s DUI laws, a DUI occurs when someone is driving or is in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence.

The term under the influence is often proven by an individual’s impairment of normal faculties. Individuals are legally impaired when they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher. The Florida penalties for DUI offenses vary depending on the individual’s BAC level and number of prior DUI offenses, as well as the circumstances leading to the DUI charge.

Zero Tolerance Law for Drivers Under 21

The Florida Zero Tolerance law was created to prevent those under the age of 21 from driving after consuming any amount of alcohol. Under this rule, drivers under the age of 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher face an automatic 6-month suspension of their license.

Florida Penalties for the First DUI Conviction

Even in situations where drivers are facing their first DUI conviction, they may still face severe consequences. The penalties for a single DUI’s conviction may include fines, license revocation, and even jail time. The punishment imposed will depend on the specific circumstances leading to the DUI charge. Judges have the discretion to assign the penalties that they find are appropriate for the situation.

However, the following are the general guidelines that judges use when imposing penalties:

  • Fines:
    • On average, the fines imposed will be between $500 and $1,000.
    • When a driver’s BAC was 0.15 or higher, or there was a minor in the vehicle, the fines may be between $1,000 and $2,000.
  • Jail time:
    • The average imprisonment for first DUI convictions is typically not more than six months.
    • If a driver’s BAC was 0.08 or higher and there was a minor in the vehicle, jail time may be extended up to nine months.
  • License revocation:
    • Driver’s licenses must be revoked for a minimum of 180 days.
  • Community services/ DUI school:
    • Judges may require offenders to perform up to 50 hours of community service and 12 hours of DUI classes.
  • Probation:
    • Those charged for DUI may be sentenced to up to a year of supervised probation.
  • Impoundment of your motor vehicle:
    • After being convicted of a DUI, your vehicle may be impounded for up to 10 days.
  • BAC is 0.15 or higher or if a minor is in the vehicle:
    • In these situations, even if it is your first DUI conviction, the penalties may be significantly increased. In addition, drivers may be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device in their motor vehicle for at least six consecutive months.

Florida’s Penalties for Multiple DUI Convictions

Carey Meldon DUI Attorney

Carey Meldon, DUI Attorney

It is important to note that in Florida, most second-offense DUIs will be considered a misdemeanor. However, any DUI can rise to a third-degree felony if the impaired driver was involved in an accident where another individual suffered serious bodily injury. Further, Florida also follows the look-back period approach. This approach allows courts to look-back at previous DUI convictions. A driver’s prior violations may determine whether the DUI will be punished as a second offense or a third offense. Typically, the look-back period is five years.

Repeat DUI offenders usually face significant penalties resulting in huge fines and extended jail time.

  • Fines:
    • The fines will average between $2000 and $5,000 depending on the number of prior DUI convictions.
    • In circumstances where a driver’s BAC was .15 or higher, or there was a minor in the vehicle, the fines will increase. For a second offense, the minimum fines imposed will be $2,000, which increases to a minimum of $4,000 for any additional DUI offenses.
  • Jail time:
    • The average imprisonment for multiple DUI convictions can vary between nine months to five years. The period of imprisonment will depend on the number of previous DUI convictions, the look back period, and the judge’s discretion.
  • License revocation:
    • When the driver has a previous DUI conviction, further DUI offenses can lead to a license revocation of up to five years.
  • Impoundment of your motor vehicle:
    • An offender’s vehicle may be impounded for 30-90 days, depending on the number of prior DUI convictions and the judge’s discretion.
  • DUI school and probation:
    • The judge will set the number of hours of DUI school and probation offenders are required to complete. Judges may also include drug and sober monitoring as conditions of the sentence.
  • Ignition interlock device installation:
    • Depending on the number of previous DUI convictions, drivers may be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device for six months to two years.

Facing criminal charges is difficult. Florida DUI cases create extraordinary stress for everyone involved. When facing DUI charges, consult an experienced DUI attorney to help you navigate the legal process and provide you with an in-depth understanding of your legal options. An established and dedicated law firm with the skills, resources, and the attention you deserve can protect your rights. If you are charged with a DUI, contact a DUI defense attorney today. For more information on Florida DUI laws and how to find a good DUI attorney review our legal resource blog section.

Meldon Law
Phone: (954) 334-1276

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