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  • DUI & DWI in Florida

    Because drinking and driving is so dangerous, the penalties for doing so are extremely harsh in Florida. The state is serious about curbing injuries and deaths from alcohol-related crashes. The more DUIs you receive, the worse the penalties become.

    Driving under the influence (DUI) is defined as operating a motor vehicle while impaired with a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .08% or higher, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance.

    First Conviction

    Even your 1st DUI conviction can cost you more than just dollars:

    • Fines of $500 to $1,000.
      • If you have a BAL of .15% or higher, or were driving with a minor in the car, your fine will be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000.
    • Community service. Mandatory 50 hours, or an additional fine equaling $10 per required community service hour.
    • Probation of no more than 1 year.
    • Jail time of up to 6 months. For BAL of .15% or higher, the sentence could last 9 months.
    • Vehicle impoundment for 10 days (not counted during your incarceration)
    • Driver license revoked for up to 1 year.

    Second Conviction

    • Fines of $1,000 to $2,000. For BAL of .15 or higher, or a minor in the car, minimum $2,000 to $4,000.
    • Jail time of not more than 9 months. A BAL of .15 or higher, or driving with a minor in the car, will require up to 12 months. If it's your 2nd conviction in 5 years, a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days will be required.
    • Vehicle impoundment for 30 days (if a 2nd conviction in 5 years).
    • Driver license revoked for 5 years (if it's your 2nd conviction in 5 years).
      • You may be eligible to apply for a hardship license after 1 year.

    Third Conviction

    • Fines of $2,000 to $5,000. If your BAL was .15 or higher or you had a minor in the vehicle, the minimum fine is $4,000.
    • Jail time. Mandatory 30 days if it's your 3rd conviction in 10 years. If it's outside the 10-year limit, the maximum jail time is 12 months.
    • Vehicle impoundment for 90 days for a 3rd conviction in 10 years.
    • Driver license revoked for a minimum of 10 years if it's your 3rd conviction within 10 years of the 2nd conviction.

    Fourth or Subsequent Conviction

    • Minimum $2,000 fine.
    • Jail time of up to 5 years.
    • Driver license revoked―mandatory permanent revocation. You won't ever be eligible for hardship reinstatement.

    Drivers Younger Than 21 Years of Age

    Young drivers who are found with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to an automatic suspension of 6 months. For most people, a single drink will put them over that limit.

    It Gets Worse

    The penalties listed above may sound harsh, but they're really the best-case scenario for a person who makes the decision to drink alcohol and then get into a car and drive. If you hurt someone while impaired or, worse yet, cause a death, the above penalties will seem like a slap on the wrist.

    DUI Misdemeanor

    If you cause property damage or personal injury to someone else while driving under the influence, you'll be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor. That means fines up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 1 year.

    DUI Felony

    If you receive 3 DUIs in 10 years, or receive a 4th conviction at any time, you'll be committing a 3rd degree felony. You'll also have a felony conviction if you cause serious bodily injury to someone else. Fines can reach $5,000 and jail time can last 5 years.

    DUI Manslaughter

    If you kill someone while driving with alcohol in your system, it's a 2nd degree felony, with penalties of a fine up to $10,000 and/or jail sentence up to 15 years. If you leave the scene of the accident after killing someone, it's a 1st degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or jail sentence up to 30 years.

    License Reinstatements

    Even if you haven't caused injuries or served jail time, losing your license can seriously affect other areas of your life, not the least of which is your job.

    In some cases, it might be possible to have your suspended license reinstated for hardship purposes, meaning to drive to and from work only. You'll have to complete a DUI program and probably have an ignition interlock device installed on your car for 6 months to 5 years.

    The ignition interlock device requires the driver to give a breath sample before starting the car. If the BAC is more than .05, the car will not start. The device even submits the driver to "rolling retests," meaning an alarm will sound and the driver must give a sample while operating the vehicle.

    Even if you don't apply for a hardship reinstatement, you'll still be required to take the DUI course and possibly use an ignition interlock device. There's no way to recover from a DUI conviction easily or quickly. The best idea is the simplest: Don't drink and drive, period.

    For more official details and regulations concerning DUI convictions, please see the state's website.

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