An Experienced Florida DUI Attorney Is A Phone Call Away
Call (727) 896-7000 for a free initial confidential consultation.
One of the most common questions we are asked is: “What is going to happen to me?” At The Denson Firm, we want you to be well-informed when making decisions regarding your defense. While we understand you may be relying on our advice based upon extensive experience, we want you to understand the penalties and obstacles you will be facing if convicted of drunk driving (DUI) in Florida.
Below we have provided you with the Florida statutes outlining the penalties for a DUI conviction. As you can see, they are lengthy and encompass everything from fines, to prison time, to losing your driving privileges. Our attorney would be happy to discuss your situation and your options.
We understand most individuals want to know what the potential consequences are for a drunk driving (DUI-DWI) conviction. Florida laws are fairly complex, and different factors can impact the severity of your potential consequences, including your blood alcohol content (BAC), who was in the car with you (e.g., a minor), and your past history of drinking and driving, as well as factors such as was there an accident, was anyone hurt or killed, etc.
Please call us at (727) 896-7000 or fill out our intake form for a free initial consultation to discuss your situation, potential consequences, and most importantly, how we may be able to help you.
In case of an emergency after normal hours, please leave a message for St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney, Bruce Denson. Your message will be immediately forwarded to his cell phone and responded to as quickly as possible.
Florida DUI/DWI Penalties
DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcoholic Beverages, Chemical Substances or Controlled Substances)
Under Florida law, DUI is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven.
First Conviction: Mandatory 50 hours of community service or additional fine of $10 for each hour of community service required.
First conviction: total period of probation and incarceration may not exceed 1 year.
At court’s discretion, sentencing terms may be served in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program, credited toward term of imprisonment.
First Conviction: Not more than 6 months. With BAL of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 9 months.
Second Conviction: Not more than 9 months. With BAL of .20 or higher or minor in the vehicle: Not more than 12 months. If second conviction within 5 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive.
Third Conviction: If third conviction within 10 years, mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. At least 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive. If third conviction for more than 10 years, imprisonment for not more than 12 months.
Fourth or Subsequent Conviction: Not more than 5 years or as provided in s.775.084, Florida Statutes, as habitual/violent offender.
Impoundment of Immobilization of Vehicle
Unless the family of the defendant has no other transportation:
First conviction= 10 days
Second conviction within 5 years= 30 days
Third conviction within 10 years= 90 days
Impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with incarceration. The court may dismiss the order of impoundment of any vehicles that are owned by the defendant if they are operated solely by the employees of the defendant or any business owned by the defendant.
Conditions for Release of Persons Arrested for DUI
DUI Misdemeanor Conviction: (Accident Involving Property Damage or Personal Injury)
Any person who causes property damage or personal injury to another while driving under the influence is guilty of a First Degree Misdemeanor (not more than $1,000 fine or 1-year imprisonment).
DUI Felony Conviction: (Repeat Offenders or Accidents Involving Serious Bodily Injury)
Any person convicted of a third DUI within 10 years or a fourth or subsequent DUI commits a Third Degree Felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment).
Any person who causes serious bodily injury while driving under the influence is guilty of a Third Degree Felony (not more than $5,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment) or if habitual/violent felony offender as provided in s. 775.084, F.S.
Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide
DUI/Manslaughter: Second Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years imprisonment).
DUI Manslaughter/Leaving the Scene: A driver convicted of DUI Manslaughter who knew/should have known accident occurred; and failed to give information or render aid is guilty of a First Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years imprisonment).
Vehicular Homicide: Second Degree Felony (not more than $10,000 fine and/or 15 years imprisonment).
Vehicular Homicide/Leaving the Scene: A driver convicted of vehicular homicide who left the scene of an accident is guilty of a First Degree Felony (nor more than $10,000 fine and/or 30 years imprisonment).
Driver License Revocation Periods for DUI in Florida
A. First Conviction: Minimum 180 days revocation, maximum 1 year.
B. Second Conviction Within 5 Years: Minimum 5 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 1 year. Other 2nd offenders are the same as “A” above.
C. Third Conviction Within 10 Years: Minimum 10 years revocation. May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 2 years. Other 3rd offenders are the same as “A” above; one conviction more than 10 years prior and one within 5 years, same as “B” above.
D. Fourth Conviction, Regardless of When Prior Convictions Occurred) and Murder with Motor Vehicle: Mandatory permanent revocation. No hardship reinstatement.
E. DUI Manslaughter: Mandatory permanent revocation. If no prior DUI related convictions, may be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 5 years.
F. Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicular Homicide Convictions: Minimum 3-year revocation. DUI Serious Bodily Injury having prior DUI conviction is the same as “B-D” above.
Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) – Alcohol-Related Convictions/Disqualifications
Persons convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of .04 or above or refusing to submit to a test to determine the alcohol concentration while driving a commercial motor vehicle, driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance, or driving a commercial motor vehicle while in possession of a controlled substance shall be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle for a period of 1 year. This is in addition to any provisions of s. 316.193 for DUI convictions.
Second or subsequent conviction of any of the above offenses arising out of separate incidents will result in a permanent disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
There are no provisions for persons disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle to obtain a hardship (business or employment) license to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Business Purposes Only/Employment Purposes Only Reinstatements
First Conviction: Must complete DUI school, apply to the department for hearing for possible hardship reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for up to six months for BAL of .20 or higher, or for two years if BAL is greater than .20.
Second Convictions (or more): No hardship license except as provided below. Mandatory ignition interlock device for one year, effective 07/03.
Second Conviction Within 5 Years: (5-Year Revocation) May apply for hardship reinstatement hearing after one year. Must complete DUI school and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period (failure to report for counseling or treatment shall result in cancellation of the hardship license). The applicant may not have consumed any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance or driven a motor vehicle for 12 months prior to reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for one year or for two years if BAL is greater than .20.
Third Conviction Within 10 Years: (10-Year Revocation) May apply for hardship reinstatement hearing after two years. Must complete DUI school and remain in the DUI supervision program for the remainder of the revocation period (failure to report for counseling or treatment shall result in the cancellation of the hardship license). The applicant may not have consumed any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance or driven a motor vehicle for 12 months prior to reinstatement. Mandatory ignition interlock device for two years.
DUI Manslaughter With No Prior DUI Related Conviction: (Permanent Revocation): May be eligible for hardship reinstatement after 5 years have expired from the date of revocation or expired from the date of the term of incarceration provided the following requirements have been met:
- Has not been arrested for a drug-related offense for at least 5 years prior to the hearing;
- Has not driven a motor vehicle without a license for at least 5 years prior to the hearing;
- Has been alcohol and drug-free for at least 5 years prior to the hearing; and
- Must complete a DUI school and must be supervised under the DUI program for the remainder of the revocation period (failure to report for counseling or treatment shall result in cancellation of the hardship license).
- Ignition interlock device required for two years.
Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicular Homicide Convictions: (3 Year Revocation): May immediately apply for the hardship reinstatement hearing. Must complete DUI school or advanced driver improvement course.
DUI School Requirements
First Conviction: Must complete DUI school before hardship reinstatement. Customers who wait out revocation period before reinstatement need only show proof of enrollment or completion to become re-licensed. If customer enrolls and is reinstated after revocation period expires, failure to complete the DUI school within 90 days after reinstatement will result in license cancellation; the driver cannot then be re-licensed until DUI school is completed.
Second Conviction in 5 Years (5-Year Revocation) or Third Conviction in 10 Years (10-Year Revocation): Customer must complete DUI school following conviction.
DUI Manslaughter With No Prior DUI Related Conviction: (Permanent Revocation): Must complete DUI school before hardship reinstatement.
Manslaughter, DUI Serious Bodily Injury, or Vehicular Homicide: (Minimum 3-year Revocation)
Customers Who Wait Until Revocation Period Expires: Must enroll in DUI school and pass the driver license examinations to be re-licensed. Failure to complete the school within 90 days after such reinstatement will result in cancellation of the license until the school is completed.
Reckless Driving: If the court has reasonable cause to believe that the use of alcohol, chemical or controlled substances contributed to a violation of reckless driving, the person convicted of reckless driving must complete DUI school if ordered by the court.
Treatment: Treatment resulting from a psychosocial evaluation may not be waived without a supporting psychosocial evaluation by a court-appointed agency with access to the original evaluation.
Chemical or Physical Test Provisions (Implied Consent Law)
Refusal: Refusal to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test is admissible as evidence in DUI criminal proceedings. Second or subsequent refusal is a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Driver License Suspension Periods:First refusal, suspended for 1 year. Second or subsequent refusals, suspended for 18 months.
Commercial Driver License Disqualification Periods: First refusal in a commercial motor vehicle, disqualified for 1 year. Second or subsequent refusals in a commercial motor vehicle, disqualified permanently. No hardship reinstatement permitted.
Forceful Withdrawal of Blood: If necessary, blood may be withdrawn in DUI cases involving serious bodily injury or death by authorized medical personnel with the use of reasonable force by the arresting officer, even if the driver refuses.
Unconscious: Any person who is incapable of refusal by reason of unconsciousness or other mental or physical condition shall be deemed not to have withdrawn his consent to such test. A blood test may be administered whether or not such person is told that his failure to submit to such a blood test will result in the suspension of his privilege to operate a motor vehicle.
Portable Alcohol Breath Testing Devices: Authorized by s.322.2616, F.S., for persons under the age of 21. Reading is admissible as evidence in any administrative hearing conducted under s. 322.2616, F.S.
Adjudication and Sentencing
Penalty to be imposed by Court: Judges are prohibited from deviating from the administrative suspension/revocation periods mandated by statute. The courts are prohibited from withholding adjudication in DUI cases; or from reducing a DUI charge if the defendant’s blood alcohol was .20 or greater.
Driving While License Suspended or Revoked
Any person whose driver license/privilege is suspended for Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Level, or revoked for DUI, DUI Manslaughter or Vehicular Homicide, or for any other offense ordered by the court and who causes death or serious bodily injury to another person by operating a motor vehicle in a careless or negligent manner is guilty of a 3rd degree felony, punishable by both imprisonment of not more than 5 years, a fine not to exceed $5,000, or both.
Administrative Suspension of Persons under the Age of 21 for Driving With an Alcohol Level .02 or Above
Section 322.2616, Florida Statutes, authorizes law enforcement officers having probable cause to believe that a motor vehicle is being driven by or is in the actual physical control of a person who is under the age of 21 while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or who has any alcohol level may lawfully detain this person and may request them to submit to a test to determine the alcohol level. This violation is neither a traffic infraction nor a criminal offense, nor does being detained under this statute constitute an arrest.
First Suspension for Persons under the Age of 21 with an Alcohol Level .02 or above: 6 months.
Second or Subsequent Suspensions: 1 year.
First Suspension for Refusal to Submit to Breath Test: 1 year.
Second or Subsequent Suspensions for Refusal: 18 months.
The suspension is effective immediately. If the breath or blood alcohol level is .05 or higher the suspension shall remain in effect until completion of a substance abuse evaluation and course. The officer will issue the driver a temporary permit effective 12 hours after issuance which is valid for 10 days, provided the driver is otherwise eligible.
Administrative Suspension Law
The suspension is effective immediately. The officer will issue the driver a temporary permit valid for 10 days from the date of arrest, provided the driver is otherwise eligible.
Administrative Disqualification Law
First Disqualification for Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle With an Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level (.04 or above): 6 months disqualification
Second or Subsequent Disqualification of Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle With an Unlawful Alcohol Level (.04 or above): 1-year disqualification.
First Disqualification for Refusal to Submit to Breath, Urine or Blood Test Arising from the Operation of a Commercial Motor Vehicle: 1-year disqualification.
Second or Subsequent Disqualification for Refusal to Submit to Breath, Urine, or Blood Test Arising from the Operation of a Commercial Motor Vehicle: permanently disqualified.
The disqualification is effective immediately upon refusal of the breath, urine or blood test or determination that the driver has a blood alcohol level of .08 or above while operating or in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle. The officer will issue the driver a temporary permit which is valid for 10 days from the date of arrest or disqualification, provided the driver is otherwise eligible. However, the permit does not authorize the operation of a commercial motor vehicle for the first 24 hours of disqualification.
Review Hearings for Administrative Suspensions and Disqualifications
Sections s. 322.2615 and s. 322.64, F.S., authorize the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles upon the request of the driver to conduct formal and informal reviews for the purpose of sustaining, amending or invalidating administrative suspensions and disqualifications. The decisions of the department shall not be considered in any trial for a violation of s. 316.193, F.S., nor shall any written statement submitted by a person in his request for review be admissible into evidence against him in any such trial. The disposition of any related criminal proceedings shall not affect a suspension/disqualification.
Business or Employment Reinstatement:
1. Suspension for Driving with an Unlawful Alcohol Level of .08 or above or Refusal: Must show proof of enrollment in DUI school and apply for an administrative hearing for possible hardship reinstatement. For unlawful alcohol level must serve 30 days without driver license or permit prior to eligibility for hardship reinstatement. For the first refusal must serve 90 days without driver license or permit prior to eligibility for hardship reinstatement. No hardship reinstatement for two or more refusals.
2. Suspension – Persons under Age of 21 Driving with a Breath Alcohol Level of .02 or above: Must complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education course before hardship reinstatement. .05 or higher must complete DUI program prior to eligibility for hardship reinstatement. Must serve 30 days without driver license or permit prior to eligibility for hardship reinstatement.
Hardship License Prohibited:
1. Florida law prohibits any hardship reinstatement upon 2nd or subsequent suspension for test refusal or if the driver has been convicted of (DUI) section 316.193, F.S., two or more times.
2. Persons disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle cannot obtain a hardship license to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Recently Asked Questions:
Q: Can you have your land seized for a Felony DUI?
A: Occasionally, police will seize vehicles used in Felony DUIs as they are an instrumentality of the crime. However, I do not believe that they would attempt to seize any land.
Q: Can you get a DUI in the water in Florida?
A: Yes, Boating Under The Influence is a crime. Penalties can be similar to those involving DUI offenses.