Penalties for being caught while driving under the influence in Florida are really harsh. The state is trying to bring down the number of accidents caused by drink driving. When you are pulled over and asked to take a breath, blood or urine test, you are obligated to comply. Refusal results in a 12 month license suspension. Should you refuse again, you will lose your license for 18 months.
Should you get caught and convicted of DUI, the first penalty will be a fine from $500 to $1,000. If you had more than 0.15 or a minor was in the car with you, the fine is doubled. A mandatory 50 hours of community service are also in play. The license can be revoked for up to a year and you can face jail time of 6 months (up to 9 months for blood alcohol level of 0.15 or more).
The second conviction is more severe – from $1,000 to $2,000 in fines and a jail time of 9 months. The fine is doubled if you had more than 0.15 or a minor in the car and you will face jail time for up to 12 months. If the second conviction happened within five years of the first one, jail time of 10 days is mandatory. The driver license will be revoked for five years.
The third conviction brings fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Should you have been caught with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more, or with a minor in your vehicle, the minimum fine will be $4,000. You will also receive 30 days of mandatory jail time if this is your third conviction within ten years. The driver license will be revoked for ten years if the third conviction is within the range of 10 years from the second conviction.
The fourth (and every subsequent) conviction will bring you a minimum of $2,000 fine and jail time for up to five years. The driver license is permanently revoked.
The state of Florida doesn’t joke around when handling the penalties – being caught more than three times will get you a third degree felony conviction. The legal limit in the state of Florida is 0.08, but it’s lower for young and commercial drivers: commercial drivers should not have 0.04 or above and drivers under 21 should not have 0.02 or above.
The above mentioned penalties are actually a best case scenario – you will be charged accordingly if you were NOT involved in an accident. If you were involved in an accident that caused property damage or personal injury, you will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The fines for the charge are up to $1,000 and up to one year of jail time. If you were involved in a DUI accident and killed someone, you will be charged with a second degree felony and face a fine of $10,000 and jail time for up to 15 years.
Being convicted and losing your license, even if you didn’t serve jail time or cause injuries, will impair many areas of your life. Appealing to lift the suspension is possible, but you will have to go through a DUI program and an ignition interlock device will be put on your car. The device will let you start your car only if it doesn’t detect alcohol in your breath.
The safest way to enjoy drinks is to have a designated driver, call a cab or, if you will have to drive, to not drink at all.