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The Consequences of Drunk Driving in Florida

You may have heard the term, driving under the influence, at one time or another, but do you know what it means and what the consequences are for someone in Florida?

In Florida, if a motorist has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more and is in physical control of a vehicle, they can receive a DUI for driving under the influence. If the BAC is .08% or higher, they are also guilty of per se DUI. A per se DUI is a charge based on the driver having a certain amount of drugs or alcohol in their blood.

Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Florida

The penalties for this kind of charge in Florida are set by statutes and governed by how many prior DUI convictions the person has and other circumstances. The judge can assign a fine, jail time, and even license revocation as long as it all falls within the parameters of Florida law.

First Offense

For a first offense, a motorist may receive a sentence of up to six months in jail, a fine between $500 and $1000, and license revocation lasting between 180 days and one year.

In some cases, if the BAC is .15% or higher or the motorist had a minor passenger at the time of the incident, they may also be required to use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for up to six months. Depending on the circumstances, the judge can also tack on community service hours, more jail time, or a higher fine.

Second Offense

If the motorist receives a second conviction within five years of their first, there could be up to 9 months of jail time, a $1,000 to $2,000 fine, possibly 180 days to one year or more for license revocation, and the IID requirement for up to two years. Additionally, the vehicle may be impounded for thirty days, and they could receive a longer five-year license revocation, depending on the circumstances.

Third Offense

If the offense happens within ten years of the prior, it is now considered a felony, and the motorist can see up to five years in jail, 90-day vehicle impoundment, and a license revocation of up to ten years. The motorist must also participate in a probation and substance abuse course that reports to the court monthly. Not complying with these requirements can lead to a probation violation, more jail time, and longer driver’s license revocations.

Implied Consent

All drivers in Florida arrested for a DUI must consent to a chemical breath, urine, or blood test. These tests determine the amount of alcohol or drugs in the system. Florida’s implied consent law states that a one-year license revocation will be imposed on those who refuse, and then it is an 18-month revocation for any subsequent refusals.

Underage Drivers

Those drivers under the age of 21 can’t have a BAC of .02% or higher. This is not considered a criminal offense but will result in a license suspension of no less than six months for the first offense and a year for the second offense. If the underage driver’s BAC is greater than .05%, they will be required to participate in a DUI education program before their license can be reinstated.

Negotiating Florida DUI Charges

If you were involved in a DUI that involved manslaughter and a BAC of over .15%, or you have prior convictions, you cannot negotiate or plead down the charges. They cannot be reduced or dismissed.

However, if it is your first offense, you may be eligible for DUI diversion. Your charge may be pled down to a wet reckless charge in which you can avoid some penalties and consequences of driving while under the influence.

It doesn’t matter if you are the one that committed the offense or the one who was involved in an accident with a driver under the influence. It helps to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help navigate your case.

Stephen M. Fernandez developed a strong belief in justice and fairness in public policy while earning his Political Science degree prior to attending law school. Since joining the Florida Bar Association in 2004, Stephen Fernandez has combined his background in public policy, business administration and civil law to serve as a highly effective trial lawyer fighting for Florida's injured, working hard every day to make sure his clients get what they are owed.

The Consequences of Drunk Driving in Florida

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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