Understanding the DUI Laws and Penalties in Florida

A DUI in Florida is a criminal offense, which means that you will be sentenced as a criminal defendant if you are convicted, or plead guilty or no-contest.

While there are many penalties for Florida DUIs, they are imposed by a judge and the severity may vary depending on the case. Typically, the mandatory conditions fall into probation, license suspension, impoundment, fines, and DUI school and/or treatment, whether it is your first or fourth DUI. Some cases will also include other penalties such as incarceration, community service hours, and the potential of having an Ignition Interlock Device attached to your vehicle.

Mandatory Penalties

For every person convicted of DUI, there are mandatory penalties, including probation, license suspension, car impoundment, fines, and DUI school.

For probation, 12 months is mandatory for a DUI charge. You will have to report monthly to your probation officer and prove that you are upholding the terms of your probation. There are additional penalties if you go against the stipulations set.

For suspension, you will lose your license for a set time. If you blow a .08 or higher, you will lose your license for 6 to 12 months for the first offense, and subsequently, the time increases or you may lose your license permanently. If you are charged with DUI manslaughter, your license will be revoked regardless of the number of previous DUIs. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you will lose your license for 1 year for the first offense and 18 months for subsequent refusals.

In some cases, you may be granted a business purpose only, or a hardship license that allows you to drive to work, school, or court.

For motor vehicle impoundment, the judge will impound the car you were driving for a determined amount of time. Impoundment lasts anywhere from 10 days with a first offense to 90 days for a fourth offense. If you do not own the vehicle or are not the only person who uses it, the impoundment may be waived.

Fines are imposed by the court. They are mandatory and cannot be waived. They start at $500 for a first offense and can go all the way up to $15,000 for DUI manslaughter.

DUI School is also mandatory for every case. There are two parts and two levels to DUI school. During the first DUI school, you are informed of how alcohol and other substances impact your driving. It then teaches you how to be more responsible. If you are convicted of another DUI, you go to “Level 2” DUI school, which is longer and teaches you how to deal with alcoholism. (You may also be screened by the DUI school evaluator for additional counseling.) Typically you have 90 days to complete the class, or you will have to start over again.

50 hours of community service is mandatory for the first DUI conviction. However the courts may order you to pay a fine of $10 for each hour of public service if it finds it would cause undue hardship.

Other Common Florida DUI Penalties

More severe DUI cases may face other penalties, including an Ignition Interlock System and jail time.

An ignition interlock device is required for those who have a BAC of .15 or higher and repeat offenders. The time varies from 6 months to 2 years.

This device is installed so that before you can even start your car, you must prove that you have not been drinking. This device is installed at your cost, between $150 and $300 with a monthly maintenance fee). If you cannot afford the interlock, your license will not be suspended until you can.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Ormond Beach or areas surrounding Volusia County, contact our office today at 386-682-9235 to schedule your free consultation.