Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Florida

Most people know it’s not just a bad idea to drive drunk, it’s also against Florida law. When a driver in Florida is stopped for a traffic stop and the law enforcement officer has probable cause that the driver has been drinking, the driver will face a drunk driving arrest. Understanding how your state handles drunk driving can help you find a knowledgeable Florida DUI defense attorney to help resolve your case.

Florida Drunk Driving Laws

Florida law prohibits driving or being in the actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any illegal substance or while having a BAC of .08% or more. However, this threshold is lowered to .04% for commercial drivers and .02% for drivers under the age of 21 years old.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: BAC of .15% or higher; driving with children under the age of 18 in the vehicle, prior convictions, causing harm, injury or death to another.

The number of prior DUI convictions determines the penalties for an offense. However, there are some penalties that a judge may seek to impose for a misdemeanor or felony, such as substance abuse education or treatment, a psychosocial evaluation, community service, and vehicle impoundment.

  • First-time offenders are facing a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months imprisonment, $500 to $1,000 in fines, a 180-day to a one-year license revocation (with the chance to apply for a restricted license), and up to one year of probation.
  • second conviction is also a misdemeanor penalized with up to nine months imprisonment, $1,000 to $2,000 in fines, up to a five-year license revocation, one year of an ignition interlock device, and up to one year of probation.
  • third conviction is a misdemeanor, or it will be a felony if the prior convictions occurred within the past 10 years. It is punishable by 30 days to 12 months imprisonment, $2,000 to $5,000 in fines, up to a ten-year license revocation, two years of an ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement, and one year of probation.
  • Fourth or any further convictions are treated as felonies no matter when the offenses occurred and upon a fourth conviction, you can face up to five years imprisonment. At this level, the court may permanently revoke all driving privileges and you can face a fine of not less than 2,000 to $5,000. The penalties are enhanced above if your BAC is .15 % or more at the time you were operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

The penalties for the offenses listed above increase if your BAC is .15 % or more at the time you were operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol. If charged for any of the offenses above, you have to complete DUI school and submit to a substance abuse evaluation and treatment if necessary and pay the costs associated with them.

Finding the Right DUI Attorney to Help You on Your Case

Florida allows defendants to plea down to a reckless charge. This means that instead of pleading guilty to a drunken driving charge, your DUI defense attorney can negotiate to plead guilty to a reckless driving charge which may have lesser consequences than facing a conviction for a DUI charge. It is important that you find an attorney in your area who understands how local judges handle DUI cases like yours.

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