Florida DUI Laws and Penalties 2024 – What You Need to Know

Driving is a privilege in every state across the country. Drinking is also a privilege for those who are 21 years of age or older. However, the two privileges can have severe consequences when they are combined. Understanding how they interact with one another and the potential consequences for you may help you avoid becoming involved in a bad situation.

Drinking and driving can lead to property damage, accidents, injuries, and death. The laws are in place to protect people from these consequences. Understanding the law can help you avoid spending time in prison, paying hefty fines, or losing your driving privileges.

Florida’s DUI Law

Driving under the influence in Florida is pretty straightforward. To be charged with DUI:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher (.04% if it is a commercial vehicle).
  • You are driving under the influence of illegal controlled substances, harmful chemical substances, or alcohol.

“Under the influence” means that you are meeting the above conditions, which impair your ability to operate a vehicle.

Potential Penalties for DUI

If you are charged with DUI, you could face a number of different penalties. Their severity will be determined by the circumstances of the charges as well as how many prior convictions you may have. The number of occurrences is also taken into account, as is the amount of time that has passed since those occurrences.

If your charges include aggravation, you will face the higher end of the penalties listed below. If a minor is a passenger or the offender’s BAC is greater than .15%, aggravated DUI charges are added. If you are convicted of DUI, your penalties can include the following:

First Offense

First-time offenders could face:

  • Six to nine months in jail
  • $500–$2,000 in fines
  • 180 days to one year of license suspension
  • Potentially, an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in their car for six months

Additionally, you may have:

  • A year of probation
  • Up to 50 hours of community service
  • Vehicle possibly impounded for ten days

As a first-time offender, however, there are diversion programs that could be available to reduce or eliminate some of these penalties.

Second Offense

A second offense will result in:

  • Nine to 12 months in jail
  • $1,000 to $2,000 in fines
  • 180-day to one-year suspension of license
  • Automatic two years with an IID installed on your car

If the second DUI occurs within five years of the previous conviction, you could also face:

  • A mandatory 10 days in jail
  • A 30-day vehicle impounding
  • Your license revoked for at least five years

You may be able to obtain a restricted license after one year if you enroll in a substance abuse education course.

Misdemeanor Third Offense

This type of third offense will be charged if you have no priors in the past 10 years. It will carry:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • 180-day to one-year suspension of license
  • Automatic two-year IID installation on your car

This could also involve:

  • A minimum of 30 days in jail
  • A 90-day vehicle impoundment
  • A revocation of your license for at least 10 years

After two years, drivers can petition for a restricted license. However, they are required to remain enrolled in DUI diversion programs.

Felony Third Offense

This will be charged if you have had a prior offense within the past 10 years. This third offense will carry the following penalties:

  • Up to five years in jail
  • $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • License suspension for a minimum of ten years
  • Two years with an IID installed in your vehicle

Determining if you are charged with DUI requires blood or breath tests. Unlike some other states, Florida has “implied consent” laws, which state that all drivers who are arrested for a DUI must submit to a urine, blood, or breath test. If they do not, it may result in a one-year suspension of your license. A second refusal will cost a driver their license for 18 months, a fine of up to $1,000, and a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

Felony DUI Charges

DUI charges in Florida are considered misdemeanors unless the following conditions are met:

  • There are two or more prior DUI convictions within a ten-year period.
  • There are three or more DUI convictions, regardless of time.
  • A person was driving under the influence and caused serious bodily injury.
  • A person was driving under the influence and caused the death of another.

If any of these conditions are met, the charges can be enhanced to a felony. If you face felony DUI charges, the penalties will be more severe and include longer prison sentences.

FAQs About Florida DUI Laws and Penalties

What Happens to First-Time DUI Offenders in Florida?

Florida penalties for a first-time DUI offense could include up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, the potential to lose your license for up to six months, and 50 hours of community service. The severity of the penalties will be determined by the circumstances of your charges and any additional charges filed with them.

Is Jail Time Mandatory for the First DUI in Florida?

Jail time is not mandatory for first-time convictions. You will likely face community service and probation for most first-time offenses. However, if your BAC is .15% or higher, your first conviction could be a felony, resulting in jail time. You may also face jail time if you injure or kill another person while under the influence.

How Strict Are Florida DUI Laws?

In comparison to other states, Florida ranks very low in criminal penalties for DUI. The reason for this is that many states have a mandatory jail term for first-time offenses, while Florida does not. That does not mean you will receive light penalties. Florida DUI consequences will still cost you money, time, and the loss of your license for a certain period.

Is Florida Hard on DUIs?

Although the penalties for DUI charges rank low compared to other states, the long-term consequences of a DUI in Florida are considered extremely tough. This is because these convictions cannot be expunged or sealed from your criminal record for a minimum of 75 years. This has a lasting impact on potential housing and job opportunities.

Jacksonville DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A DUI conviction requires very specific procedures to be followed, and any error in those procedures could help your criminal defense. At Gates Law Firm, we have the experience to help keep your driving privileges intact by focusing on the evidence of your case and the protection of your rights in the process. Call us today and let us get you the help you deserve.

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Don’t hesitate to contact Gates Law Firm today if you are facing criminal charges. The best defense is strong,
and I am ready to fight for you with compassion and tenacity. My experienced and dedicated firm will
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