DUI & DWI in Florida
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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 (BAC) of .08 or higher, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance (316.193, F.S.). A DUI will remain on your driving record for 75 years.
Even your first DUI mistake can cost you more than just dollars:
- Fines of $250 to $500. If you have a BAC of .20 or higher, or were driving with a minor in the car, your fine will be anywhere from $500 to $1000.
- Community service. Mandatory 50 hours, or an additional fine equaling $10 per required hour.
- Probation of no more than one year.
- Jail time of at least eight hours, but could last up to six months. For BAC of .20 or higher, the sentence could last nine months.
- Jail time of at least two years if you kill or injure someone.
- Vehicle impoundment for 10 days (not counted during your incarceration)
- Driver license revoked for a six month minimum
- Fines of $500 to $1,000. For BAC of .20 or higher, or a minor in the car, minimum $1,000 to $2,000.
- Jail time of not more than nine months. A BAC of .20 or higher, or driving with a minor in the car, will require up to 12 months. If it's your second conviction in five years, a mandatory 10-day jail sentence will be required.
- Vehicle impoundment (if a second conviction in five years) for 30 days.
- Driver license revoked for six months minimum. If it's your second conviction in five years, you'll lose your license for five years (but will be eligible to apply for a hardship license after one year).
- Fines of $1,000 to $2,500. If it's your third conviction in 10 years, you'll be charged $2,000 to $5,000.
- Jail time. Mandatory 30 days if it's your third conviction in 10 years. If it's outside the 10-year limit, up to 12 months.
- Vehicle impoundment (third conviction in 10 years) for 90 days.
- Driver license revoked for a minimum five years. If it's your third conviction in 10 years, a minimum of 10 years revocation will apply.
- Fines of $1,000 minimum; with BAC of .20 or higher, minimum of $2,000 fines. No maximum.
- Jail time of up to five years.
- Driver license revoked―mandatory permanent revocation. You won't ever be eligible for hardship reinstatement.
Young drivers who are found with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to an automatic six-month suspension. For most people, even one drink will put them over that limit.
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.
If you cause property damage or personal injury to someone else while driving under the influence, you'll be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. That means fines up to $1,000 and jail time of up to one year.
If you receive three DUIs in a 10-year period, or receive four at any time, you'll be committing a third-degree felony. You'll also have a felony conviction if you cause serious bodily injury to someone else, even if it's your first conviction. Fines can reach $5,000 and jail time can last five years.
If you kill someone while driving with alcohol in your system, it's a second-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 first-degree felony, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or jail sentence up to 30 years.
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 six months to two years or more.
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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