Florida law mandates stiff penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (also known as "drunk driving"). In this article, we take a look at the specifics of Florida's DWI law including what happens during a DUI traffic stop, what you can expect if you are arrested for DUI and the penalties if you are convicted.
It is important to note that this page is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. DWI is a serious crime.
DUI Traffic Stops
If a Florida law enforcement officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of alcohol, you will be pulled over. The officer will likely begin by administering a Field Sobriety Test. This is the test that you've seen countless times on television. The officer will observe your eyes for signs of alcohol use, ask you to perform simple mental acuity tests and perform physical tasks requiring coordination that easily demonstrate the signs of intoxication. If you fail this test, you may be asked to submit to a breathalyzer exam and/or a blood or urine alcohol test.
Holders of drivers licenses must agree to submit to blood, breath and urine exams. If you refuse to comply, your driver's license will be suspended for one year. If you refuse to comply for a second time in your life, you will receive an 18-month suspension and you may be charged with a misdemeanor. Additionally, the police may forcibly draw blood if the accident involved serious injury or death.
If evidence shows you are intoxicated, you will be arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. For obvious reasons, you will not be permitted to drive and your car will be impounded. You should immediately ask to speak with an attorney. You will not be released until you meet all of these criteria:
- You are no longer under the influence
- You are no longer impaired
- Your BAC is below 0.05
- Eight hours have passed since the time of your arrest
DUI Penalties, Fines and Jail Time
If you are convicted of DUI, your penalty may vary depending upon the circumstances of your case and the judge who draws your case. Maximum penalties also vary based upon your past history:
- First offense: $500-$1,000 fine, 50 hours of community service, 6-9 months of prison time and probation up to one year and vehicle impoundment for 10 days
- Second offense: $1,000-$4,000 fine, 9-12 months of imprisonment (with a mandatory minimum of 10 days) and vehicle impoundment for 30 days
- Third offense: $2,000-$5,000 fine, 9-12 months of imprisonment (with a mandatory minimum of 30 days) and vehicle impoundment for 90 days
- Fourth offense: $2,000 or greater fine, up to 5 years of imprisonment (with a mandatory minimum of 30 days) and vehicle impoundment for 90 days
In all cases, you should always consult an attorney for legal advice. And remember, drinking and driving is a crime. While this information may be helpful to you in the event that you are accused, you should never drink and drive.