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Florida Drunk Driving Penalties
Drinking and driving is illegal across the country, and for good reason. In Florida alone, there were 17,067 accidents related to driving under the influence. Florida drivers who take the risk and get behind the wheel while intoxicated could face jail time, license suspension, and huge fines even on their first conviction of driving under the influence.
In all 50 states, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher is a crime. In Florida, a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction will encompass driving with a .08 BAC as well as driving under the influence of a chemical or controlled substance. Even on your first offense, if your BAC is higher than .08, your punishment will be more severe. And, while other traffic tickets — running a stop sign, illegal lane changes, etc. — will drop off your driving record after a certain amount of time, the Florida DHSMV will keep a record of your DUI conviction for 75 years!
If you choose to drink and get behind the wheel, the law is not in your favor. Florida DUI laws are strict in order to discourage this dangerous driving behavior and keep the roads safe. From the very first moment you're pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence in Florida, you'll face serious consequences.
Florida is an "implied consent" state. This means that if you hold a Florida driver's license, you are required to comply with the request for a chemical test during a DUI stop. If you refuse to take a breath, blood, or urine test, your license will be suspended for 1 year – regardless of whether you are guilty of DUI or not.
Even your first conviction for DUI in Florida comes with a high price tag. Florida drunk driving penalties continue to get more severe the higher your blood alcohol content is, or if you're brazen enough to get multiple convictions. Here is a breakdown of the fines and penalties you'll face in Florida for up to 3 DUI convictions.
|Conviction||Fine||Jail Time||License Suspension|
|1st||$500-$1,000||Up to 6 months + 50 hours mandatory community service||6 months – 1 year|
|2nd||$1,000-$2,000||Up to 9 months |
Note: if conviction is within 5 years of 1st offense, mandatory 10 days in jail
|6 months to 1 year |
Note: 2nd conviction within 5 years = 5 year revocation
|3rd||$2,000-$5,000||Up to 1 year |
Note: if conviction is within 10 years of previous offense, mandatory 30 days in jail
|Revoked for 5 years, |
Note: if 3rd conviction is within 10 years of previous offense = 10 year revocation
That's not all. Other penalties could include impounding of your vehicle, probation, and court-mandated completion of a state-approved Drinking and Driving course before driving privileges will be reinstated. The higher your BAC, the more severe your drunk driving penalties and fines in Florida. And don't forget – down the road when you do decide to reinstate your driver's license, you'll be faced with much higher insurance premiums.
If you are under the legal drinking age and you're stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence in Florida, you could be in a lot of trouble. Drivers with a BAC of .02 or higher who are under 21 years of age will lose their license for 6 months. In addition, just like adults on their first offense, you could face hefty fines, jail time of up to 1 year, 50 hours of community service, and vehicle impoundment fees.
A DUI conviction in Florida can be a severe burden on many levels. Not only will you face the penalties and fines listed above, but without your driver's license, you could jeopardize your livelihood. Some drivers can apply for a Florida hardship license if they meet certain criteria. First, you'll have to complete a court-mandated DUI program and pay all your fines. You can then apply for a hearing to request a hardship license allowing you limited driving privileges for work, school, or medical purposes. In addition, the Florida court will require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) for the duration of your hardship license period and into your license reinstatement. On your second offense, you must wait a full year before you can even apply for a hardship license, and on your third offense you'll have to wait 5 years!
The steps for reinstating your license are similar to earning a hardship license. You will be expected to complete a DUI course and pay your fines. Depending on the severity of your offense, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car, or any car you plan to drive. Drivers convicted of DUI with a BAC over .15 will be required to install a device for 6 months.
An IID requires you to blow into it before your car will start, ensuring your BAC is below .05. And the device isn't cheap. You'll be required to pay an interlock fee of $12, plus $75 for installation, a $100 refundable deposit, and $72.50 per month for the device use.
In addition to completing your court-mandated drunk driving course and installing an interlock device if required, you're also required to take the driver's license exam and pay a revocation reinstatement fee in order to get your driving privileges back.
As you can see, a Florida DUI conviction is serious business. Learn more about the risks and dangers of drinking and driving, license suspension, and Florida driving laws by taking an Florida online traffic school course.
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