Florida’s DUI Laws and Conviction Penalties

The consequences of a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI in Florida.

Like all states, Florida prohibits driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. This article explains the requirements for a DUI conviction in Florida, and the possible penalties an offender might face for an arrest or a conviction.

Florida's DUI Laws

To get a DUI conviction in court, Florida prosecutors must prove the motorist was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle:

In other words, a DUI conviction can be based on BAC or actual impairment.

What It Means to be "Driving or in Actual Physical Control" of a Vehicle in Florida

Of course, you can be conviction of a DUI if you were actually driving, but a moving vehicle isn't necessarily required.

Florida only requires a person to be in actual physical control of a vehicle to be guilty of DUI. Generally, a person is considered to be in actual physical control of a vehicle if the vehicle is reasonably capable of being rendered operable. In determining this issue, judges and juries will generally consider factors such as whether the accused was in the driver's seat, whether the keys were in the ignition, if the vehicle was running, and if the vehicle was capable of being engaged.

Proof of Intoxication for a DUI Offense in Florida

To prove a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the prosecutor must prove to the court that the driver's normal faculties were noticeably impaired.

But if a blood, breath, or urine test shows that the driver's BAC was at least .08%, then the driver is considered "per se" under the influence.

Penalties for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI in Florida

Most DUI offenses are considered misdemeanors and the penalties depend on certain aggravating factors and the number of prior DUI convictions. While Florida counts all convictions within the driver's lifetime as prior offenses, recent convictions can increase the penalties even further.

Jail and Fines for Florida DUI Convictions

The chart below outlines the range of jail time and fines for a first, second, and third DUI conviction in Florida.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 6 months

Up to 9 months

Up to 12 months

Fines

$500 to $1,000

$1,000 to $2,000

$2,000 to $5,000

Aggravated DUI Penalties in Florida

A DUI that involves minor passengers or a BAC of .15% or more will be considered an aggravated DUI. An aggravated DUI carries the following enhanced penalties.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

Up to 9 months

Up to 12 months

Up to 12 months

Fines

$1,000 to $2,000

$2,000 to $4,000

$4,000 to $5,000

Florida DUI Probation

In lieu of some or all of the required jail time, judges can place DUI offenders on probation as part of the sentence. While on probation, offenders must comply with certain requirements, including monthly reporting and enrollment in a substance abuse treatment program. Probation for first-offense DUIs also requires 50 hours of community service or payment of a $500 fee. Failure to comply with probation requirements can result in license revocation and additional jail time.

Treatment Requirements for Florida DUI Offenders

As part of sentencing, offenders are required to submit to an alcohol and drug evaluation. Based on the results of this evaluation, the court will order a treatment program appropriate for the driver. Treatment requirements can include monitored sobriety, random testing, educational classes, treatment programs, and remote sobriety monitoring.

Enhanced Penalties for Prior DUIs Within Five Years

While Florida considers all prior DUIs in a driver's lifetime, recent prior offenses can lead to increased penalties. A second offense within five years of the first will result in a mandatory ten days in jail and a 30-day vehicle impoundment.

If a third-offense DUI occurs within ten years of the second offense, the third offense will be charged as a felony.

Florida Felony DUI Penalties

A DUI can be charged as a felony in Florida due to the number of prior offenses (as explained above) or due to a resulting injury or death.

Third-offense felony DUI. A third (or subsequent) DUI will be charged as a felony if the offender has any prior convictions within the last ten years. A conviction carries 30 days to five years in jail, $2,000 to $5,000 in fines, and a 90-day vehicle impoundment. A fourth or subsequent DUI—regardless of when the prior convictions occurred—will be charged as a felony DUI.

Injury or fatality DUI. A DUI that results in serious injury to another is a felony and carries four to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Impaired driving that results in the death of another is a felony and carries four to fifteen years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and permanent license revocation.

License-Related Penalties for Florida DUI Offenses

Getting caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol will typically lead to license-related penalties. These penalties vary depending on the number of prior offenses and the driver's compliance with testing requirements.

License-related penalties can result from a DUI arrest and/or conviction.

Florida's Implied Consent Law

Florida's "implied consent" law requires all drivers who are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing to determine the presence of consumed drugs or alcohol. Generally, it is up to the officer to decide which test to request, but breath tests are preferred if available.

Refusing a Chemical Test in Florida

A driver who unlawfully refuses to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test will face a one-year license revocation. A second or subsequent refusal will result in an 18-month revocation.

A driver who refuses a breath test and has at least one prior breath, blood, or urine test refusal can actually face criminal charges. A conviction is a first-degree misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

Also, prosecutors can use the fact that a driver refused testing in court while trying to prove a DUI charge.

Failing a Chemical Test in Florida

Drivers who submit to testing and produce a BAC that's at least .08% will also face license suspension. A failed chemical test will result in a six-month suspension for a first offense and a one-year suspension for subsequent offenses.

License Revocation for DUI Convictions in Florida

All DUI convictions result in driver's license suspension. Generally, the court will specify the duration as part of the criminal sentence. Unless aggravating factors exist, a DUI conviction (first, second, or third) will result in 180 days to one year of license suspension.

However, a second-offense DUI conviction that occurs within five years of the first requires a five-year license revocation. A third-offense felony DUI requires a ten-year license revocation. A fourth or subsequent DUI conviction mandates permanent license revocation.

IID Requirements

After serving the license suspension period, drivers are generally required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) on any operated vehicle. The judge will order a minimum six-month IID for a first-offense DUI. For repeat offenses, the offender must install an IID for at least two years.

Hardship Restricted IID License

Suspended and revoked drivers may be eligible for restricted driving privileges during the revocation period. Applicants must be enrolled in a court-ordered treatment program and may have to complete a minimum portion of the suspension period prior to being eligible for restricted privileges. Driving privileges may be limited to certain times or only for work or school purposes.

A driver who was revoked for five years due to a second-offense DUI within five years can apply for a restricted license after one year of revocation.

A driver who was revoked for ten years due to a third-offense felony DUI conviction can apply for a restricted license after two years of revocation.

Drivers with two or more test refusal violations are ineligible for restricted privileges.

Florida's Underage DUI Laws

Florida prohibits any driver under the age of 21 from having a BAC of .02% or more. While not a criminal offense, an underage DUI will result in license suspension and other penalties.

Test failures. An underage driver with a .02% BAC will receive a six-month license suspension. This suspension is increased to one year if the offender has any prior underage DUI violations. If the driver's BAC was .05% or more, the offender will also be required to complete a DUI education program prior to license reinstatement.

Test refusals. Drivers under the age of 21 are required to submit to a breath or blood test if the officer reasonably believes he or she has consumed alcohol. An unlawful refusal will result in a one-year license suspension. The suspension period is 18 months for drivers with prior refusals or test failures.

Florida's First Offender Options

A first offense DUI charge can sometimes be resolved without a criminal conviction. Eligible drivers who participate in a diversion program can earn a dismissal of the charges by completing a series of rehabilitative requirements and paying certain fees.

However, diversions generally aren't available to those with prior offenses, with excessively high BACs, or who caused injuries or death.

Talk with a Florida DUI Lawyer

If you've been charged with driving under the influence in Florida, it's a good idea to talk to an experienced DUI lawyer. A qualified DUI attorney can help you understand how the law applies to the facts of your case and decide on the best course of action.

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