Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that risks the safety of all on the road. Florida has penalties in place that include fines and prison time. You will also lose your license for a time and may need to take driver's education to get it back. Here, we'll help you learn more about DUI laws in Florida.
What Is a DUI in Florida?
A DUI is breaking the law by driving impaired with alcohol and/or illicit substances in your body. With alcohol, the law has established different legal limits for drivers under and over the age of 21. This limit is measured by alcohol concentration measured in a breath or blood test.
Drivers over 21. The legal blood/breath alcohol limit (BAL) for Florida drivers 21 and over is 0.08% or higher. At the 0.08% limit, you can expect to have some impaired judgment and coordination, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.
Drivers under 21. The DUI BAL for teens is 0.02% or higher. That's four times lower than the legal limit for people older than 21.
Illicit drugs and driving. Unlike alcohol, there is no acceptable range for marijuana and other drugs in Florida. Using drugs at all may mean a driver could be charged with a DUI.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence?
Penalties can include imprisonment and fines, even for a first offense. The exact nature of penalties will vary, although anyone convicted of a DUI should expect consequences. For repeated convictions, there are mandatory prison sentences. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles unit provides detailed information on DUI penalties. Below, is a handy summary of this information.
First-time conviction: If charged and convicted, Florida can issue the following penalties:
Fines of at least $500 with a maximum of $1,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.
Fines are higher if the BAL was 0.15% or greater or if a minor (person under 18) is in the vehicle. In these cases, fines from range $1,000 to $2,000 and imprisonment for up to nine months.
Repeated convictions: If you were previously convicted, the state of Florida issues more severe penalties.
A second DUI conviction carries a $1,000 to $2,000 fine. The minimum prison time is 10 days and goes up to a maximum of nine months. If the BAL was 0.15% or higher, it could be up to 12 months with up to a $4,000 fine.
A third conviction carries a minimum fine of $2,000, but not more than $5,000, as well as mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. If the BAL was 0.15% or higher, or if there was a minor in the vehicle, then the minimum fine is $4,000. Also, this carries with it a prison sentence of up to 12 months.
For a fourth offense or habitual offenders, then imprisonment at a maximum of five years. There's also a fine of at least $2,000. Having a 0.15% BAL means the minimum fine is $4,000.
When a person is convicted of a DUI after having crashed and damaged property or a person, then the conviction is a first-degree misdemeanor, and penalties are greater.
Do I Lose My License if Convicted of a DUI?
Yes, you will lose the privilege to drive even if it's your first offense. For a first-time offense, if no one was hurt, then you lose your license for at least 180 days to up to a year. If someone was hurt, then you lose your license for at least three years.
If you're convicted of repeated DUIs, you lose your privilege to drive for five to ten years. If it's your fourth offense, you have your driver's license taken away from you permanently.
To prevent this from happening, you may want to take Florida driver's ed classes to learn to be safer on the road. Driver's education may even be mandated by a judge to get your driver's license back.