Florida DUIs and DWIs
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The consequences that arise after violating state Florida DUI laws are very severe because the state recognizes the detrimental effects of alcohol and drugs on safe driving. The penalties administered to motorists charged with a DUI in FL generally include steep fines, community service sentences and driving license suspensions and/or revocations.
Note that both the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) and the state courts impose separate penalties in such cases. Due to the seriousness of these offenses, drivers will also be subjected to jail sentences of a specific length. The conviction will remain on your driving record for a long period of time as well. Find out more about the punishments you can incur after getting a DUI in Florida by reading the sections below.
Florida DUI Citations and Convictions
Drivers who receive a DUI ticket in Florida are at risk of conviction, which may result in severe fines and penalties. Law enforcement officials will ticket you for violating driving under the influence laws by failing the breath or blood alcohol level (BAL) test at the time of arrest.
The DUI ticket will lead to an administrative suspension of varying durations. Note that you can also be ticketed for refusing to abide by the state implied consent law by refusing to submit to a chemical test. Motorists who fail to have their charges dismissed in court will also be subjected to further and harsher punishments.
Note: DUI convictions remain on a driver’s record for 75 years.
Florida DUI Violations and Penalties
The penalties that you will incur if you are facing drunk driving charges in Florida will generally vary based on factors such as your age, blood alcohol level and the number of previous DUI convictions on your record. Repeat offenders, for example, incur much harsher consequences than first-time offenders.
Certain aggravating factors may also affect the administered penalties. Motorists who violate the state drunk driving laws while driving with a BAL of .15 or higher, for instance, will be subjected to larger fines and longer jail sentences.
First DUI Offense
First DUI offenses in Florida generally result in fines of $500 to $1,000, community service sentences of 50 hours and jail sentences of six months at maximum. Drivers who violate the state driking and driving laws for the first time will also be penalized with a minimum license suspension of 180 days and mandatory participation in DUI classes that last at least 12 hours.
Penalties may also include mandatory participation in an alcohol and drug treatment program and the state ignition interlock device (IID) program.
Second DUI Offense
Drivers who commit a second DUI violation in Florida are typically sanctioned with the same type of penalties outlined above, albeit an enhanced version. For instance, second DUI convictions can lead to $1,000 to $2,000 fines, a maximum imprisonment sentences of nine months and mandatory participation in a 21-hour DUI course through a specialized DUI defensive driving school.
If ordered to participate in the ignition interlock program, drivers will be required to have the device installed on their vehicles for at least one year.
Third DUI Offense
Third DUI convictions result in fines of $2,000 to $5,000, one-year jail sentences and a license revocation of at least 180 days. Drivers who violate DUI laws for the third time with a BAL of .15 will be required to pay a minimum fine of $4,000. Additional requirements, such as mandatory participation in DUI classes, alcohol and drug treatment and the IID program still apply.
Drinking and Driving in Florida
The severity of Florida DUI penalties is the result of the contributing role alcohol and drugs play in collisions within the state. In order to deter drivers from committing DUI offenses in FL and injuring or causing the death of others, the state courts and the DHSMV administer stiff punishments, as mentioned above.
Note that the severity of the penalty varies depending on the circumstances surrounding the DUI violation. For example, motorists who commit vehicular manslaughter while under the influence will have their credentials permanently revoked, and they will be charged with a felony.
Florida DUI Attorneys
Hiring an experienced drunk driving attorney in Florida is often an essential step when dealing with DUI charges. Even if your lawyer fails to have your charges dropped, he or she can still help you obtain a more favorable outcome than you could have achieved on your own.
In addition to helping you fight a ticket in court, a good impaired driving lawyer can advise you on the best plea to take if you cannot avoid a conviction on your driving record. However, prior to engaging the services of a DUI defense attorney in FL, drivers are encouraged to consult with several professionals in order to ensure they hire the best lawyer that will meet their specific expectations.
Reinstating a Suspended Drivers License in Florida
After completing a DUI drivers license suspension in Florida, drivers can regain their driving privileges by finalizing the DHSMV credential reinstatement procedure. Note that the restoration process can only be initiated after meeting the requirements set forth by both the state motor vehicle department and the presiding court.
As part of this pieces, motorists will generally be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicles. The general requirements to reinstate a Florida driving license after a conviction include:
- Waiting out the period of suspension and/or revocation.
- Attending DUI classes through a specialized drunk driving traffic school (if required).
- Enrolling in an alcohol and/or drug treatment program (if required).
- Paying the applicable administrative and reinstatement fees.
- Maintaining proof of car liability insurance for three consecutive years.
Note: Drivers who have committed multiple DUI offenses in FL within a specific time period may be required to meet stricter reinstatement requirements.
Florida Alcohol Awareness Classes
Taking a DUI course in Florida is a requirement that is often imposed by the courts within the state to drivers who were unable to successfully dismiss their DUI charges. These classes generally inform participants of the FL DUI laws regulated by the state and the negative effects of alcohol and drugs on their driving abilities.
Drivers must submit proof of completion of the DUI course to the DHSMV in order to maintain the validity of their licenses after restoration. If you fail to complete the DUI traffic school program within 90 days of reinstating your credential, you will have your license canceled until you do so.
Florida FR-44 Insurance
Maintaining the corresponding Florida insurance after DUI offenses have been committed is a mandatory step prior to reinstating a driving license. As proof of a DUI insurance within the state, the DHSMV requires the submission of a FR-44 form, instead of the standard SR-22 form.
The FR-44 form certifies that the holder abides by the impaired driving laws in FL, and that he or she has obtained an enhanced form of auto insurance to satisfy the requirements of their driving charge. Note that proof of FR-44 insurance must be maintained for three consecutive years after your license reinstatement.
Florida Laws That Pertain to DUI/DWI
Per the DUI laws in Florida, adult drivers are committing a DUI violation if they operate their vehicle with a BAL of .08 percent or greater. Motorists will also be subjected to arrest if they refuse to undergo a chemical test to determine their BAL level. The state Zero Tolerance drunk driving laws apply to drivers younger than 21 years of age.
According to this law, young motorists are at risk of incurring a ticket even if their BAL is as low as .02 percent. Furthermore, minor drivers with a blood alcohol level of .05 or greater will be required to enroll in a substance abuse program.
Hardship License in Florida
One of the most inconvenient DUI penalties is a suspended or revoked driving license. To continue driving to and from essential locations after a DUI conviction affects your driving privileges, you can apply for a hardship license.
Drivers charged with a DUI in FL and convicted afterward, can obtain a restricted license through a local office of the state Bureau of Administrative Reviews (BAR). Note that only first DUI offenders are currently eligible to utilize this option. You can finalize the application process no later than 10 days after your arrest.
Prior to applying for a restricted driving license, however, contact a local Florida DMV office to confirm your eligibility to do so.