Florida DUI Laws & Penalties

Florida is the deadliest state in the country. No other state in the US hosts as many car accidents like the Sunshine state. Many of them happen as a result of drunk driving, therefore the state government prescribes heavy penalties to tackle this ongoing problem.

DUI penalties and car accidents are not the first things that come to mind when you think about Florida, but the permanent influx of tourists going there for entertainment, as well as the same kind of behavior by the local population, inevitably leads to drunk driving accidents.

If you have committed a DUI offense in florida, expect to be punished heavily right from the first offense. There are ways to bargain with the prosecutor, but for that purpose, it is best to talk to an experienced Florida DUI lawyer. Aside from that, you’ll want to learn the basics about what constitutes a Florida DUI offense and the possible penalties.

What Is a Florida DUI Offense?

You are guilty of a Florida DUI offense if your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) meets or exceeds the legally set thresholds, as follows:

  • 0.02% for drivers under 21 years of age
  • 0.04% for commercial drivers
  • 0.08% for all other drivers
  • 0.15% brings enhanced penalties
These are the standard thresholds adopted by most of the US states. They have been established along with the “per se” doctrine, according to which you are considered to be an impaired driver as long as your BAC meets the set requirements. You don’t have to be too drunk to drive. As long as the chemical test shows that you have enough alcohol in your system, you will be charged with DUI.

penalties for dui in florida

Aside from getting tested and proven that your driving abilities are impaired, there are two other ways to get charged with DUI in Florida. According to the implied consent law, you cannot refuse to submit to a chemical test upon request by a police officer. This doctrine is adopted in all US states and means that every driver agrees to do the test by the mere driving of the vehicle. This doesn’t mean that the officer can force you to do the test, but if you refuse, you won’t avoid penalties. Moreover, you’ll get a longer suspension than usual. The other way is the open container law. It prohibits having an open container, such as a glass or bottle, filled with alcohol in the car. No one in the car must not possess an open container. In the hypothetical situation in which you are the driver, have not consumed any alcohol or drugs, but your friend on the back seat has an open beer bottle, you’ll be charged with DUI. If any person in the car has an open container, the driver is held responsible by the law. What Are the Penalties for a Florida DUI Offense?

The punishment for Florida DUI offenses depends on the number of previous DUI offenses. The state of Florida has a somewhat complicated way of counting your previous DUI offenses. The law prescribes a lookback period of 5 and 10 years, but sometimes you may get a penalty depending on the number of all the previous DUI offenses during your lifetime.

By carefully reading the following few paragraphs you’ll get a better idea on what are the penalties for each DUI offense in the Sunshine state depending on the number of previous offenses within a certain time limit.

First Florida DUI Offense

Your very first Florida DUI offense is a misdemeanor that results with the following penalties:

  • Jail time of up to 6 months for BAC of 0.08%
  • Jail time of up to 9 months for a BAC of up to 0.15%
  • Fines between $500 and $1000 for BAC of 0.08%
  • Fines between $1000 and $2000 for BAC of 0.15% or if you had a child in the car while driving under the influence
  • Community service of at least 50 hours or an additional fine of $10 per hour of community service
  • Probation of up to 1 year
  • Driving license suspension between 180 days and 1 year
  • A possibility to get a hardship driving license
  • Driving with an ignition interlock device upon reinstating the license
  • DUI classes
  • Vehicle impounding of 10 days

Second Florida DUI Offense

If you get convicted with DUI for the second time in a 5-year period, the judge will punish you as follows:

  • Jail time of up to 9 months for BAC of 0.08%
  • Jail time of up to 12 months for a BAC of up to 0.15% or if you had a child in the car while driving under the influence
  • Fines between $1000 and $2000 for BAC of 0.08%
  • Fines between $2000 and $4000 for BAC of 0.15% or if you had a child in the car while driving under the influence
  • Driving license suspension of 180 days to 1 year if you have no other DUI offense in the last 5 years
  • Driving license suspension of 5 years if you have another DUI offense in the last 5 years
  • A possibility to get a hardship driving license
  • Driving with an ignition interlock device upon reinstating the license
  • DUI classes
  • Vehicle impounding of 30 days

Third Florida DUI Offense

The third offense brings the following consequences:

  •  Jail time of up to 12 months with mandatory 30 days in jail
  • Fines between $2000 and $5000 for BAC of 0.08%
  • Fines of at least $4000 for BAC of 0.15% or if you had a child in the car while driving under the influence
  • Driving license suspension of 180 days to 1 year if you have no other DUI offense in the last 10 years
  • Driving license suspension of 5 years, if you have another DUI offense in the last 5 years
  • Driving license suspension of 10 years, if you have two other DUI offense in the last 10 years
  • A possibility to get a hardship driving license
  • Driving with an ignition interlock device upon reinstating the license
  • DUI classes
  • Vehicle impounding of 90 days

Fourth and Every Other Subsequent Florida DUI Offense

The fourth and every other subsequent Florida DUI offense is not a misdemeanor anymore, but a crime. That’s why the penalties are way heavier.

  •  Jail of up to 5 years
  • Fines of at least $2000
  • Driving license suspension of 5 years with no possibility to get a hardship driving license
  • Driving with an ignition interlock device upon reinstating the license
  • DUI classes

Florida DUI Penalties for Test Refusal

The implied consent law obliges you to submit to a test, and if you don’t, you’ll be punished. You will be subject to a fine and the following driving license suspension:

  •  1 year for the first offense
  • 18 months for the second offense
  • 18 months for the third offense

Florida DUI Penalties for Drivers Under 21 Years of Age

Young drivers have different treatment due to their age, hence the milder penalties for them. They are expected to improve their behavior with penalties as follows:

Drivers Under 18 Years of Age face with:

  • Driving license suspension of 6 months
  • Alcohol and drugs evaluation

All drivers Under 21 Years of Age face with:

  • Driving license suspension of 6 months for the first offense and 1 year for the second one
  • Driving license suspension of 1 year for test refusal and 18 months suspension for the second refusal
  • If their BAC is 0.08% or more, they face with the same penalties as older drivers

Driving with a suspended license is not an option for underage drivers. If they opt for that, the penalties include jail time and monetary fines:

  • Jail up to 60 days and up to $500 in fines for the first offense
  • Jail up to 1 year and up to $1000 in fines for the second offense
  • Jail up to 3 years and up to $5000 in fines for the third offense

Florida DUI Penalties for Commercial Drivers

The first DUI offense of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder brings a 1-year suspension of the CDL, in addition to all the other penalties. If driving hazardous materials is part of your everyday job, the suspension is 3 years.

If you reinstate the CDL but commit a second DUI, the suspension is permanent.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter whether you drive a commercial vehicle under the influence or a private one. Any DUI offense applies to your CDL.

Reinstating Your Florida Driving License Following a DUI Suspension

You can reinstate your Florida driving license upon serving your penalties. In some occasions, the judge may allow you to reinstate your license for hardship purposes, such as driving to and from work or school.

To get your license back, follow the directions of your local DMV. In most cases, they will ask you to pay for a reinstatement fee, prove that you have completed your sentences, DUI classes, and alcohol treatment programs, and provide a proof for an FR-44 insurance policy. That should be enough to get it back. 

Additional Florida resources you may need: