Because drinking and driving is so dangerous, the state of Florida looks harshly on driving under the influence. While all DUIs are foolish and irresponsible, people make mistakes. If you live in the state of Florida and have been convicted or charged with a DUI, do your research and learn more about the penalties associated with drinking and driving.
The First Conviction
State laws define driving under the influence as operating a motor vehicle while impaired. Impairment is defined as having a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .08% or higher or being under the influence of a chemical or controlled substance.
The first conviction will result in a minimum fine of $500-$1,000. If you have a BAL higher than .15% or had a minor in the car with you, the fine doubles to $1,000-$2,000. There is also a mandatory requirement of 50 community hours, or a fine equaling $10 per required hour of community service. It is also possible that you might receive probation of up to 1 year, jail time of up to 6 months (up to 9 months for BAL of .15% or higher), have your vehicle impounded for 10 days, and driver’s license revocation for up to one year.
The Second Conviction
Fines for the second conviction double and jail time is extended to include the possibility of up to 9 months for a BAL under .15% and 12 months for a BAL exceeding .15%. Your vehicle can be impounded for 30 days and your driver’s license revoked for five years.
The Third Conviction
For the third conviction, you will receive a fine of $2,000-$5,000. If your BAL was higher than .15%, the minimum fine is $4,000. If it is your third conviction in 10 years, jail time is mandatory and your license will be revoked for a minimum of 10 years. Vehicle impoundment lasts for 90 days.
After the third conviction, fines continue to rise, jail time becomes a requirement, and your driver’s license can be permanently revoked.
More than a Slap on the Wrist
While these penalties may seem harsh, they are nothing compared to what happens if you hurt or kill someone while impaired. If you cause property damage or personal injury to someone or something while driving under the influence, you could be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor. If you receive a fourth DUI conviction at any time, or three in a span of ten years, you will be charged with a 3rd degree felony. If you kill someone as the result of driving under the influence, it is a 2nd degree felony. Leaving the scene after killing someone is a 1st degree felony.
Driving under the influence is a serious issue. Despite its grave nature, good people make mistakes and end up charged with a DUI. They often don’t know what steps to take in the legal system. If you or someone you know is facing a DUI, contact Russell Spatz and the Spatz Law Firm to further discuss legal options at 305-442-0200.