A common question for Florida drivers who have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is, “If I’m convicted, how long will my license be suspended?” The short and honest answer to that question is, “It depends.”
Under Florida’s DUI laws, convicted offenders are subject to tiered sentencing. This means that each case is unique, and penalties depend on a number of factors, including whether it is a first offense, what the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level was at the time of arrest, and whether there was any bodily injury.
Each of those issues can impact the length of a driver’s license suspension according to information provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
For DUI offenders convicted for the first time, how long they will lose their license is largely dependent on whether bodily injury to another person occurred because of their DUI:
- First-time offenders convicted of DUI without bodily injury are subject to a minimum of 180 days revocation, with a maximum of one year.
- First-time offenders who are convicted of DUI that caused an accident involving bodily injury face a minimum of three years revocation.
First-time offenders are also subject to fines of between $500 and $1,000, with a maximum fine of $2,000 if they had a BAC level of 0.15 or higher, or there was a minor in the vehicle. Additionally, offenders who had a BAC level of 0.15 or under may be imprisoned for six months while those whose BAC level was above 0.15, or who had a minor in the vehicle, face imprisonment for nine months. Conviction for a first DUI may also result in the offender’s vehicle being impounded or immobilized for 10 days, unless their family will have no other means of transportation.
The Second Time Around
A second DUI offense, especially when it occurs within five years of the first one, means more severe potential penalties. These include an increase to the time a license may be suspended, larger fees and longer jail sentences:
- Second-time offenders who were convicted within five years of their last DUI face a minimum of five years suspension of their driver’s license, although they may be eligible for a hardship reinstatement after one year.
- Second-time offenders with fewer than five years between convictions are subject to mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days, with at least 48 consecutive hours of imprisonment, and they may have their vehicle impounded for 30 days.
- Second-time offenders convicted of their second DUI offense, but with at least five years between offenses, may only have their license suspended for the period it would have been under a first offense.
Fines for a second DUI offense may range between $1,000 to $2,000, or up to $4,000 if the offender’s BAC level was 0.15 or higher, or there was a minor in the vehicle. Prison sentences may be up to nine months, or up to 12 months if the offender’s BAC level was .15 or higher, or there was a minor in the vehicle.
The Third or Fourth Offense
Multiple DUI offenses may result in a long-term or even permanent revocation of the offender’s driver’s license. Suspension guidelines for multiple offenses include:
- An offender with a third DUI offense within 10 years of the last conviction may have their license suspended for a minimum of 10 years, although they may be eligible for a hardship reinstatement after two years. If there have been more than 10 years between offenses, then suspension guidelines for a first offense apply.
- A fourth DUI conviction, regardless of when the previous convictions occurred, carries a mandatory permanent revocation of the offender’s driver’s license, although they may be eligible for hardship reinstatement after five years.
Third or fourth convictions carry a term of imprisonment between 30 days and five years, depending on the length of time between convictions, the BAC level, whether a minor was in the vehicle, and whether anyone was injured. Fines for the third or fourth DUI offense range from $2,000 to $5,000. Multiple DUI offenses can result in impoundment of the offender’s vehicle for 90 days.
DUI Manslaughter, Serious Injury, or Vehicular Homicide
If the offender caused serious injuries or fatalities, their license will be suspended for at least three years. If the offender is convicted of DUI manslaughter, they will be subject to mandatory permanent revocation of their driver’s license. Causing death or serious injury in a DUI accident is a felony charge, and conviction carries significant fines and imprisonment of up to 30 years, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Getting a Hardship Reinstatement
A driver who has been convicted of DUI offenses may be eligible for a hardship reinstatement of their driver’s license for business or employment purposes. The provision of these hardship reinstatements are as follows:
- For a first conviction, the offender must complete DUI school and request a hearing with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for possible hardship reinstatement.
- For a second conviction within five years of the first one, the offender may apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing after one year. They must complete DUI school and remain in the DUI supervision program for the entire suspension period. Additionally, the offender must not consume alcohol or a controlled substance, or drive a motor vehicle for at least 12 months.
- For a third conviction within 10 years of the last one, the offender may apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing after two years, with the same provisions as a second conviction.
- For DUI manslaughter with no previous conviction, the offender may apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing after five years from the date of suspension, or from the date of the term of incarceration, provided the applicant has not consumed drugs or alcohol or driven a motor vehicle for at least five years prior to the hearing, has completed DUI school, and has remained in the DUI supervision program.
An offender who has had multiple suspensions for refusing to submit to BAC testing is ineligible for hardship reinstatement. Additionally, an offender who has been disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle by their conviction cannot apply for a hardship reinstatement to drive commercial motor vehicles.
Call Meldon Law if You Face a License Suspension for a DUI
If you have been charged with DUI, speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Regardless of the circumstances of your case, you deserve an attorney who will fight to protect your rights and your future. Contact Meldon Law at (954) 334-1276 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to help you. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.