Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is a dangerous crime. The state of Florida takes DUI offenses very seriously. You face suspension of your license to drive a motor vehicle, along with criminal sanctions, if convicted of driving under the influence. The cost of a DUI can include steep fines and court fees, license suspension, and other negative consequences. If you receive a Florida DUI, it's important that you understand both the law and your rights.
Note: State laws are constantly changing through legislative, judicial, or other means. While FindLaw works hard to ensure the accuracy of its legal resources, it's a good idea to thoroughly research the law or check with an attorney to make sure you have the most recent information.
Florida DUI Laws
Florida statutes prohibit anyone from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle when they are under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another chemical substance that causes impairment to their normal faculties.
The language of Florida's DUI law means you don't have to be driving to be subject to a DUI charge. You could be sitting in the car, or near it with the keys, and law enforcement can consider if you could easily drive in making this determination.
Florida has set a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08%. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is 0.04%. At this level, or if you test higher, you are per se intoxicated. Per se intoxication does not need further evidence of your impairment for a drunk driving charge.
You don't have to be at or above a BAC of 0.08% for a DUI charge. You may be below this limit yet still be charged if showing clear signs of impairment.
Florida's laws also prohibit driving under the influence of controlled substances, such as illegal drugs, legal medical marijuana, and other chemicals that alter your “normal faculties." This can mean you cannot walk steadily, are slurring your words, or are weaving while driving. You may also have failed the field sobriety tests, which police officers use to gauge intoxication.
Florida has zero-tolerance laws that make it illegal for anyone under 21 to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If caught with a BAC of 0.02% or more, law enforcement will charge you, causing you to lose your license for six months. A second offense will revoke your driver's license for 18 months. If you refuse chemical tests, your license suspension is 12 months for the first instance and 18 months for the second.
You face the same penalties as an adult if your BAC is 0.08% or more.
Several circumstances will elevate your charge to an aggravated DUI, which is at least a third-degree felony offense. Aggravated DUIs carry more severe penalties that will vary depending on the circumstances of your charge. You will face an aggravated charge if:
- Your BAC is 0.15% or above
- You are transporting a minor at the time of your arrest
- You cause property damage or personal injury
- You cause serious bodily injury
- You are classified as a habitual offender
Implied Consent Law
When law enforcement suspects you are driving under the influence, they ask you to submit to field sobriety and chemical tests.
The police officer will ask you to take a Breathalyzer or breath test to help determine your breath alcohol level. They may ask you to submit to other types of testing, such as blood, saliva, or urine. If you fail the Breathalyzer, your blood alcohol level will be confirmed later with a blood or urine test.
You have the right to refuse these tests. However, under Florida's implied consent laws, there are immediate consequences for not cooperating. You agreed to follow the law when you received your driver's license, and part of this agreement is that you have consented to these tests when law enforcement suspects you of a DUI. Refusing to take the chemical tests will not prevent your arrest. The court can consider evidence of your refusal.
If you refuse chemical testing, you face an immediate driver's license suspension of one year. If you have previously refused chemical testing, you lose your license for 18 months and receive a misdemeanor criminal offense charge.
A DUI conviction carries both criminal and administrative penalties. The court imposes criminal penalties, while the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles imposes administrative penalties.
A first DUI conviction can result in up to six months of jail time, with fines of $500 to $1,000. The judge may add up to one year of monthly reporting probation, 50 hours of community service, and vehicle impoundment for 10 days. They can also order you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle for six months. Your administrative penalties include a driver's license revocation between six months and one year.
A second DUI conviction will cost you $1,000 to $2,000 in fines and up to nine months in jail. If you have two convictions within five years, you must serve at least 10 days in prison, plus vehicle impoundment for 30 days. You must also install an ignition interlock device for one to two years after your license revocation period expires. If this is your second DUI within five years, you will lose your license for five years.
Most DUI convictions will require an ignition interlock device installed as either part of your sentence or as a condition of having a hardship or limited license. An ignition interlock device is an alcohol breath test installed into your vehicle's ignition system. You must breathe into the machine, and if it detects a BAC of 0.025% or more, it will not start the vehicle. An IID is mandatory if you have a prior DUI conviction.
If ordered by the judge, you may be required to have an IID installed on your vehicle after a first offense. The devices are mandatory for six months for first offenders with a BAC of more than 0.15%. Subsequent convictions increase the IID requirement to one to two years.
In addition, you will need to complete an alcohol education course or DUI school before installing an IID.
Your IID requirement begins once you have completed your license revocation period. You may need to apply for a hardship or restricted license that will allow you to drive to work or essential appointments, like meeting with your probation officer or attending DUI education classes.
Florida DUI Resources
Charged Under Florida DUI Laws? Talk to an Attorney
A DUI will impact your life in many ways, which may include having your driver's license suspended, having an IID installed, and facing huge fines. If you're dealing with a DUI charge in Florida, contact a local DUI defense attorney who will work toward getting you the most favorable outcome possible.