Florida law enforcement officials are struggling to deal with intoxicated driving, making more than 53,000 DUI arrests in 2012. In 2008, the state began requiring installation of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for initial DUI offenders with 0.15 percent or higher BAC. Even this has proven ineffective because in 2010, more than 20,000 individuals charged with DUI were rearrested for driving with suspended licenses. Drivers should understand the seriousness of DUI and the consequences they face.
First DUI Conviction Penalties in Florida
Florida law uses 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content (BAC) as the threshold for Florida DUI. The vehicle will be impounded for ten days upon arrest for a first DUI and initial conviction results in a fine of $500 to $2,000. Drivers convicted of DUI for the first time must also perform 50 hours of community service or pay a $10 fine for each court-mandated hour of community service.
The driver license will be revoked for between 180 days and one year following an initial DUI conviction, making it difficult for the individual to get to work or school. Reinstatement may be available for employment or business purposes only with court approval following completion of DUI school. If BAC was 0.15 percent or higher, the court will require installation of an ignition interlock device for a maximum of six months.
An initial DUI conviction also carries a penalty of up to nine months in jail. The court may allow substitution of time in a residential alcohol abuse treatment program. A one-year total period of incarceration plus probation is permitted for a first DUI conviction. Individuals who cause personal injury or property damage while driving under the influence are guilty of a first degree misdemeanor, subjecting them to fines up to $1,000 and as long as one year in jail.
Underage DUI in Florida
If a police officer suspects that a driver younger than 21 has consumed or is under the influence of alcohol, the officer may require a chemical test. If BAC is 0.02 percent or higher and this is the first incident, the driver license will be suspended for six months, effective immediately. If BAC is at least 0.05 percent, the driver must complete a substance abuse evaluation and education program.
Drivers under age 21 who are convicted of a first DUI also face fines of $1,000 to $2,000. They may also be charged with solicitation or possession of alcohol or distributing alcohol to other minors in the vehicle. Underage drivers with 0.08 percent BAC or higher are subject to jail time as determined by a judge.
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