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DUI/DWI Information for Florida

Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.

In Florida, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.

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REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN FLORIDA

In Florida, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years of age and it is set at 0.02% for those under 21. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.

Having a Florida license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being suspended or revoked.

Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:

If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.

  1. The first offense may result in imprisonment for up to 6 months and/or a $500 - $1000 fine. Also, if convicted for a first offense BAC or DWI (BAC over 0.08%) or for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID):
    • Points will be added to your driving record.
    • Your license will be revoked for 180 days to a year.
    • You may be eligible to apply for the Hardship License in the county where you live before revocation period expires, and then become eligible to reinstate your license, if you meet the reinstatement requirements.
    • If BAC is 0.15% or above or you have a minor in the vehicle then you may be imprisoned for up to six months and/or fined $1,000- $2,000.
    • You will have to do mandatory community service for 50 hours or pay an extra $10 fine for every hour of community service.
  2. The second offense or two offenses in five years may result in imprisonment for up to nine months and/or up to a $1000 - $2000 fine. Also, if convicted for the second offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
    • Points will be added to your driving record.
    • Your license will be revoked for five years.
    • If two convictions occur in over five years, the driver will face a 180 days to a year's license revocation, and mandatory imprisonment for 10 days of which at least 48 hours should be consecutive. You may be eligible to apply for a Hardship License once you complete one year from the effective date of revocation provided you meet the conditions.
    • If BAC is 0.15 or above or you have a minor in the vehicle will lead to imprisonment of up to 12 months and/or a $2000- $4000 fine.
  3. The third offense or three offenses in ten years may result in imprisonment for up to 12 months and/or $2000- $5000 fine. Also, if convicted for the third offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
  4. Points will be added to your driving record.
  5. Your license will be revoked for a 180 days to one year.
  6. If the third conviction occurs for DWI or BAC occurs within ten years it is treated as a third degree Felony and you will face a ten-year license revocation, mandatory imprisonment of minimum 30 days of which at least 48 hours should be consecutive. You may be eligible to apply for a Hardship License once you complete two years from the effective date of revocation provided you meet the conditions.
  7. If BAC is 0.15 or above or you have a minor in the vehicle will lead to a minimum fine of $4000.
  8. The fourth and subsequent offense ("habitual/violent offender") is treated as a third degree Felony may result in imprisonment for up to five years and/or minimum $4000 fine. Also, if convicted for the fourth offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
  9. Points will be added to your driving record.
  10. Your license will be permanently revoked.
  11. DUI Manslaughter (first DUI conviction) will result in your license being permanently revoked. You may be eligible to apply for a Hardship License once you complete five years from the effective date of revocation provided you meet the conditions.
  12. DUI Manslaughter along with prior DUI conviction will result in your license being permanently revoked.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21

  1. Your license may be administratively suspended for six months after the first conviction, for one year after the second and subsequent conviction.
  2. Refusal to submit to testing will lead to your license being administratively suspended for 12 months for first offense and for 18 months for second offense.
  3. Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS

If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
  1. Points will be added to your driving record and you will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%.
  2. If your refuse to submit to a test you will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year.
  3. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
  4. Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/DWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.

ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:

Florida laws have administrative implications in addition to the criminal laws against DUI/DWI. An officer may arrest a driver if:
  • He/she is aged 21 and above and is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.
  • He/she is aged below 21 and is driving with BAC 0.02% or more.
Under this law, if you are arrested for DUI/DWI, the arresting officer will confiscate your Florida driver license, complete a notice of license suspension/revocation based on the nature of the offense along with a warrant. For driving with unlawful BAC (DUBAL) you will be given a 10-day permit on the arrest date. The driver can schedule an administrative hearing after the notice of suspension/revocation. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer beforehand. If the hearing goes against the driver, his license will be suspended or revoked based on his previous ten year driving record. If he has an alcohol related convictions or suspensions for this ten year period, his license will be revoked for five years, and if not, then it will be suspended for 180 days to a year. Your license will be permanently revoked if is a fourth offense in a five-year period. You may be eligible to drive using the Hardship License, if you meet the conditions and subject to the nature of offense.

LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:

If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
  1. To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must prove that you have successfully completed the Florida Licensed DUI Programs or a comparable program (the agency will send the proof to the Driver License Bureau once you have completed the program), pay the reinstatement fee of $60, administrative fee of $115 and maintain proof of financial responsibility for two years from the date of suspension/revocation by filing SR-22, if you are over 21 years old. For DUBAL you will have to pay the reinstatement fee is $35 and administrative fee of $115.
  2. If you are being convicted for a second or subsequent time, it is mandatory for the court to order an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyser tests on any vehicle you drive. It may also be ordered for a First Conviction if BAC is 0.15% or if you have minor in car.
  3. You can submit the reinstatement application and fees (Monday-Friday from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, except for state holidays) in person at a Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles office near you.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON'T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
  • If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
  • See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.
  • Any person who causes personal injury to another or property damage while driving under the influence is guilty of a First Degree Misdemeanor.
  • As dictated by the Florida DMV your vehicle will be impounded for 10 days for first conviction, for 30 days for second conviction in five years and for 90 days for third conviction in 10 years unless your family does not have other transportation.
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