The act of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly forbidden in Florida. Drivers in the state who are found guilty of this offense typically face a variety of penalties. These legal punishments range from monetary fines to jail sentences.
The DUI laws are designed to prevent drivers from engaging in this illegal behavior. Motorists who plan on driving in Florida can avoid a DUI by knowing what the legal blood alcohol content levels are and what punishments are commonly given for this crime.
DUI in Florida
Like most states, Florida defines driving under the influence for most drivers as having a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher. This definition applies to drivers who are 21 years old and older and driving passenger cars, motorcycles and other privately owned motor vehicles.
The definition does not apply to commercial drivers, however. People who drive large commercial vehicles can be arrested for DUI in Florida if they have a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. They are held to a lower BAC because of the danger that their vehicles present to the general public.
Florida has zero-tolerance laws for underage drivers. Drivers under the age of 21 will be arrested for DUI if they have BACs of 0.02 percent or higher.
An aggravated or enhanced DUI in Florida is defined as having a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. An aggravated DUI is met typically met with harsher punishments than a standard DUI.
DUI Penalties in Florida
Florida judges use a variety of penalties to address driving under the influence in the state. Someone who is charged with DUI for the first time can receive a fine of $500 to $1000. He or she can also have his or her license suspended for 180 days to one year and be required to use an ignition interlock device or IID for up to six months if his or her BAC is 0.15 percent or higher.
A first-time aggravated DUI can also be punished with 50 hours of community service and a 10-day vehicle impound. The offender can also get up to nine months in jail and a fine of $1000 to $2000.
A second DUI conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to nine months and a fine of up to $2000. The offender can also have his or her license suspended for 180 days to one year and be required to use an IID for up to two years.
If the prior DUI conviction occurred within five years, the offender can receive 10 days in jail and a five-year license revocation. His or her car can also be impounded for up to 30 days. If the offender is found guilty of an aggravated DUI or had an underage passenger in the car, the punishments can include a 12-month jail sentence and a fine of $2000 to $4000.
A third DUI conviction can result in 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $5000. The person’s drivers’ license can be suspended for 180 days to one year, and he or she could be ordered to use an IID for up to two years.
If the person’s last DUI occurred within 10 years, the current DUI will be charged as a felony. The penalty will require a jail term of 30 days to five years. The person’s vehicle will also be impounded for up to 90 days.
The felony DUI will also be punished with a 10-year license revocation. If the driver had an underage passenger in the vehicle, he or she can incur a fine of at least $4000.
Underage DUI in Florida
Florida has separate DUI laws for underage drivers. Drivers under the age of 21 but at least 18 years old can have their licenses suspended for up to six months for a first-time conviction. A second or subsequent DUI conviction for people in this age category can result in a loss of driving privileges for up to one year.
If someone in this age group refuses to comply with DUI testing as part of Florida’s implied consent laws, he or she can lose driving privileges for up to one year for a first refusal. A second or subsequent refusal can result in a suspension of one’s license for up to 18 months.
Someone who is younger than 18 and found to have a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher can be charged with a DUI and lose driving privileges for up to six months for a first offense. The underage driver can also be sentenced to a mandatory evaluation at an addiction facility or completion of an alcohol education program.
A driver who is under the age of 21 and found with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher faces the same penalties for DUI as a person over the age of 21. The first offense can result in a fine of up to $1000 and a license suspension of up to one year. He or she can also serve up to six months in jail and perform 50 hours of community service.
Implied Consent in Florida
Motorists in Florida are bound by the state’s implied consent laws to submit to DUI testing. They must agree to provide samples of their blood, breath or urine if law enforcement suspects that they are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If they refuse, they can face penalties like a fine of $1000 and loss of driving privileges for up to one year. Their refusal can also be submitted in court as proof of their guilt. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Florida is a serious crime that results in punishments that are just as dire. People found guilty of this offense can serve time in jail and pay steep monetary fines. They can also be compelled to use an IID on their cars or face the loss of their driving privileges for months or years depending on their blood alcohol content levels and prior DUI records.