Under Florida law, driving under the influence (DUI) may be proven by impairment of normal faculties or an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. While most DUI arrests are alcohol-related, be aware that you can also be arrested if you test positive for marijuana, cocaine, or other illegal drugs, as well as certain cough medications and prescription medications if used in excess.
Florida treats DUI as a serious offense, with severe jail time applicable in some circumstances, as well as hefty fines, ignition interlock, and license reinstatement requirements.
Under Section 316.193(2)(a)-(b), the fine schedule is as follows:
Regarding community service penalties, under Florida Statutes Section 316.193 (6)(a), the sentence following a first-time conviction will be a mandatory 50 hours of community service or additional fine of $10 for each hour of community service required.
The probation penalty for a first conviction will be a total period of probation and incarceration not exceeding 1 year. Imprisonment, on the other hand, has a few more terms depending on the circumstances of the arrest.
Note that at the court’s discretion, sentencing terms may be served in a residential alcohol or drug abuse treatment program, credited toward the term of imprisonment.
When you are arrested for a DUI in Florida, the officer will confiscate your driver’s license. You will be given a traffic DUI citation and notice by the officer. This paper will serve as your license to drive for a period of only 10 days. Within that 10-day window, you must proactively request that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles set an Administrative Review Hearing on your case or else your license will automatically be suspended for a minimum of 30 days or longer, depending on the nature of your DUI charge. Because of this rather short time period for action, you should contact an attorney immediately after your DUI arrest.
In Florida, unless the family of the defendant has no other transportation, the court must enter an order impounding your vehicle (under Florida Statutes Section 316.193 (6)). The length of immobilization varies depending on the offense:
Be aware that impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with incarceration. The court may dismiss the order of impoundment of any vehicles that are owned by the defendant if they are operated solely by the employees of the defendant or any business owned by the defendant.
Someone charged with DUI will not be released from jail unless the person is no longer under the influence, and:
Any person who causes property damage or injury to another while driving under the influence is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor (not more than $1,000 fine or 1-year imprisonment). Any person convicted of a third DUI within 10 years or a fourth or subsequent DUI, on the other hand, commits a third-degree felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years’ imprisonment). Additionally, any person who causes serious bodily injury while driving under the influence is also guilty of a third-degree felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years’ imprisonment).
DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years’ imprisonment). Vehicular homicide is also a second-degree felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years’ imprisonment).
Note that a driver convicted of DUI manslaughter who knew/should have known an accident occurred and failed to give information or render aid (left the scene) is guilty of a first-degree felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years’ imprisonment). Similarly, a driver convicted of vehicular homicide who left the scene of an accident is also guilty of a first-degree felony (no more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years’ imprisonment).
The license revocation periods after a DUI arrest are as follows:
Persons convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with a blood alcohol level of 0.04 or above shall be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for 1 year. Be aware that this is in addition to any provisions of other DUI convictions. A second or subsequent conviction of these offenses arising out of separate incidents will result in a permanent disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Note that there are no provisions for persons disqualified from operating a CMV to obtain a hardship license to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Following your first conviction, to reinstate a license for business or employment purposes you must complete DUI school and apply for a hearing for possible hardship reinstatement. There is a mandatory ignition interlock device for up to six months for those with a BAL of 0.15 or higher.
Following your second and subsequent conviction, however, no hardship license will be granted, except as provided below. You will also have a mandatory ignition interlock device for 1 year, or for 2 years if your BAL was greater than 0.20.
After a second conviction within 5 Years (5-rear revocation), you may apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing after 1 year. If you have received a third conviction within 10 years (10-year revocation), you may apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing after 2 years. Under both a 5-year and 10-year revocation, you must complete DUI school and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period. Failure to report for counseling or treatment will result in the cancellation of your hardship license. You also may not have consumed any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance or have driven a motor vehicle for 12 months prior to reinstatement.
Following a charge for DUI Manslaughter with no prior DUI conviction (permanent revocation), you may be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 5 years have expired from the date of revocation or expired from the date of term of incarceration provided you have met the following requirements:
Note that the ignition interlock device will be required for 2 years. Those convicted of manslaughter, DUI resulting in serious bodily injury, or vehicular homicide may immediately apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing. You must also complete DUI school or an advanced driver improvement course.
DUI school is an important component of any DUI sentence. Following a first conviction, you must complete DUI school before hardship reinstatement. Those who wait out the revocation period before reinstatement need only show proof of enrollment or completion to become re-licensed. Be aware that if you enrolled and your license has been reinstated after the revocation period expires, failure to complete the DUI school within 90 days after reinstatement will result in license cancellation; you cannot then be re-licensed until DUI school is completed.
Following a second conviction in 5 years or third conviction in 10 years, you must complete DUI school following your conviction. Similarly, if you have been convicted of DUI Manslaughter with no prior DUI convictions, you must complete DUI school before hardship reinstatement.
If you wait until the revocation period expires, you must enroll in DUI school and pass the driver’s license examinations to be re-licensed. Failure to complete the school within 90 days after such reinstatement will result in cancellation of the license until DUI school is completed.
Additionally, if the court has reasonable cause to believe that the use of alcohol, chemical, or controlled substances contributed to a violation of reckless driving, the person convicted of reckless driving must complete DUI school if ordered by the court to do so.
Refusal to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test is admissible as evidence in DUI criminal proceedings. Second or subsequent refusal is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Following your first refusal, your license will be suspended for 1 year. Second or subsequent refusals will result in suspensions for 18 months.
In the case of commercial driver’s licenses, a first refusal in a commercial motor vehicle will result in a license disqualification of 1 year. Second or subsequent refusals in a CMV will result in permanent disqualification, and no hardship reinstatement will be permitted.
Be aware that, if necessary, blood may be withdrawn in DUI cases involving serious bodily injury or death by authorized medical personnel with the use of reasonable force by the arresting officer, even if you refuse.
Furthermore, any person who is incapable of refusal by reason of unconsciousness or other mental or physical condition shall be deemed not to have withdrawn their consent to such a test. A blood test may be administered whether or not such a person is told that their failure to submit will result in suspension of their driving privileges.
Any person whose driver’s license is suspended or revoked for DUI and who causes death or serious bodily injury to another person by operating a motor vehicle in a careless or negligent manner is guilty of a third-degree felony, punishable by both imprisonment of not more than 5 years, a fine not to exceed $5,000, or both
Law enforcement officers who have probable cause to believe that a vehicle is in the physical control of a person under the age of 21 who has any alcohol level may lawfully detain this person and may request them to submit to a test to determine the alcohol level. This violation is neither a traffic infraction nor a criminal offense, nor does being detained under this statute constitute an arrest.
Persons under the age of 21 with an alcohol level of 0.02 or above will receive a first suspension of 6 months, and second or subsequent suspensions will constitute 1 year. However, first suspension for refusal to submit to a breath test will be 1 year, and second or subsequent suspensions for refusal will be 18 months.
The suspension will be effective immediately. If breath or blood alcohol level is 0.05 or higher, the suspension shall remain in effect until completion of a substance abuse evaluation and course. The officer will issue the driver a temporary permit effective 12 hours after issuance which is valid for 10 days, provided the driver is otherwise eligible.
If you have been convicted of any type of DUI charge, you will need to take immediate action in your defense. Speaking to a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest is critical to navigate the nuances of your charge and potential penalties. DUI attorney Nellie L. King will work personally with you to build a strong defense to protect your rights – and your reputation.