In Florida, individuals may be considered driving under the influence based on their blood alcohol content, or BAC. The maximum allowable BAC depends on a number of factors, including the person’s age. A person who is under the age of 21 may be charged with DUI if his or her BAC is reported to be .02 percent or higher. The threshold for individuals over the age of 21 is a BAC of .08 percent, which is standard across the country. A person operating a vehicle commercially may be charged if his or her BAC is .04 percent or higher.
DUI charges in Florida are initially misdemeanors but graduate to felonies under certain circumstances, such as after multiple offenses within a period of ten years or if another person is seriously injured or killed. Penalties may be aggravated under a number of circumstances. This may include a recorded BAC of over .15 percent or the presence of a minor under the age of 15 in the vehicle.
Penalties for a First DUI Offense
The fine for a first DUI ranges from $500 to $1,000. Defendants may also be sentenced to 50 hours of community service. The potential maximum sentence of incarceration is six for a first offense. In cases involving a BAC of greater than .15 percent, the maximum is nine months. The vehicle will be impounded for 10 days upon conviction. A person’s driver’s license can be revoked for a period of 180 days to one year. In some cases a person may be required to use an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for a minimum of six months, if hardship is claimed.
Penalties for a Second DUI Offense
The fine for a second DUI ranges from $1,000 to $2,000. The period of incarceration can be up to nine months. The vehicle will be impounded for 30 days, and the minimum driver’s license suspension is five years. A person may also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device for a period of one to two years.
Penalties for a Third DUI Offense
The fine for a third DUI ranges from $1,000 to $5,000. The period of incarceration can be up to a year. The vehicle will also be impounded for 90 days, and the person’s driver’s license ma revoked for no less than 10 years. An ignition interlock device may also be required for the two years following the conviction.
Penalties for a Fourth DUI Offense and Beyond
A fourth or subsequent DUI becomes a felony and is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years and a minimum fine of $1,000 with a maximum of $5,000. A convicted person’s driver’s license may be permanently revoked. However, a bill was passed in 2010 that allowed some drivers who were convicted a fourth time to apply for restricted reinstatement. This is only possible if the person was not charged with manslaughter and if the person completes an alcohol treatment program within six months of reinstatement. Additionally, the vehicle involved may be seized and disposed of.
Penalties for Refusal to Submit to Testing
Florida’s implied consent law requires drivers to submit to a blood, breath or urine test. Refusal to submit to these tests is a separate violation that carries an automatic license suspension. The penalties for refusal include fines and mandatory license suspension.