Driving under the influence is a serious crime in Florida, and the penalties are harsh. If you’re convicted under Florida DUI laws, you could be sentenced to jail time or have your driver’s license taken away. Most first-time offenders will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, there are felony DUI charges for more severe infractions. Driving while drunk is dangerous, and the penalties are designed to deter people from getting behind the wheel while under the influence.
Florida DUI Laws
What Is the Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit?
In Florida, a person over the age of 21 can be charged with DUI if they drive with a BAC of .08% or higher. This BAC limit is the same as in the other 49 states. You can also be charged with an impairment-based DUI even if your BAC is under the limit. If you have any amount of alcohol in your system and a police officer believes it has impaired your judgment while driving, they can arrest you. Drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with DUI if they have a BAC of .02% or higher.
What Happens If I get Pulled Over?
When a police officer pulls you over, you’re obliged by law to give your name, license, and registration. If they suspect you’re under the influence of alcohol, they may ask you if you’ve been drinking or how much you’ve had to drink. They may ask you to take part in field sobriety tests, which will help them determine if you’re under the influence. There are no Florida DUI laws stipulating that your license can be suspended if you refuse to take a sobriety test. However, there can be penalties involved in you refuse to take a BAC test.
Can I Refuse the BAC Test?
Florida has something called implied consent. When you get your driver’s license, you’re automatically consenting blood alcohol testing should an officer of the law request it. To check your BAC, a police officer might give you a breathalyzer test on the spot, or they may require you to get blood or urine testing done. You can refuse to take part in any testing, but there will most likely be consequences.
What Happens If I Refuse It?
If you refuse to be undergo testing, your driver’s license can immediately be suspended for one year. You refusal can also be used as evidence against you in court. Prosecutors could argue that your refusal to be tested is a sign that you lack a sense of guilt over your DUI.
Can I Plead “Wet Reckless”?
Florida DUI laws allow drivers to plead guilty to the lesser charge of “wet reckless”. In most cases, these types of plea deals are only allowed if it’s the first time a person has been arrest for drunk driving, and their BAC was .08% or slightly lower. If you caused property damage or injured someone, you probably won’t be able to plead wet reckless.
What Are the Penalties I Should Expect?
There are a number of penalties you can face if convicted under Florida DUI laws. These include jail time, fines, license suspension, and community service. A judge may sometimes order you to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. Penalties can be harsher if you had a BAC of more than .15%, were driving with a passenger under the age of 18, or caused injuries or property damage.
First Offense DUI
Most first-time violations of Florida DUI laws are considered to be misdemeanors. If convicted, you will have your license suspended for six months and be required to perform 50 hours of community service. Your car will be impounded or immobilized for ten days, and you are required to pay a fine ranging from $500 to $1000. Although there is no mandatory jail time, a judge may give you a jail sentence depending on the circumstances of your case. You could receive a sentence of up to six months for a normal DUI charge. If you had a BAC of over .15% or caused an injury, you could face a sentence of between nine months and one year.
Second Offense DUI
Florida has a look-back period of five years for second DUI offenses. A second DUI conviction within this time will result in a five-year license revocation as well as a one-year administrative suspension. There is a minimum jail sentence of 10 days and a maximum jail sentence of nine months. For one year after regaining your license, you’ll be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
Third Offense DUI
If convicted of a third DUI, you’ll face even harsher penalties. For some sentencing guidelines, the court will follow a look-back period of 10 years. A third offense in 10 years will be charged as a third-degree felony. You’ll face a mandatory 10-year license revocation and a minimum 30-day jail sentence. The maximum jail sentence is five years. However, if the previous two offenses were more than 10 years ago, there’s no mandatory jail sentence. Once your license is reinstated, you’ll be required to have an IID for two years.
Fourth Offense DUI
A fourth conviction under Florida DUI laws can result in a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license. This penalty applies regardless of how long ago the other convictions took place. After 10 years, you may be able to apply for a hardship license, but you will have to meet strict requirements to qualify. The minimum jail time will depend on how long ago the previous convictions took place, but it could range from 10 days to five years.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve had a conviction in the past, being charged with DUI can have a major impact on your life. Plus, when you drink and drive, you risk injuring yourself or others. That’s why it’s best to not even consider getting behind the wheel if you’ve had alcohol. If you plan on drinking at a bar or party, take a taxi home or have a designated driver.
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