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Understanding DUI Laws in Florida

Understanding DUI Laws in Florida

Almost 90,000 people die in the United States each year due to alcohol-related causes. Many of these deaths are the result of motor vehicle accidents involving impaired driving. In 2014, alcohol-related driving fatalities accounted for over one-third of all driving fatalities, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

An analysis of almost 600 studies, published in 2018 in the medical journal The Lancet, found alcohol to be “a leading risk factor for death and disease, associated with 2.8 million deaths each year and the seventh-leading risk factor for premature death and disability globally in 2016.” The risks were highest for ages 15 to 49, especially as related to motor vehicle accidents and self -harm.

Florida Laws Regarding Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles statistics indicate drunk driving fatalities and injuries decreased in the state between 2016 and 2017. This may be due, in part, to the popularity of ride sharing companies like Lyft and Uber. However, drunk drivers are still the number one cause of traffic fatalities in Florida.

Florida law classifies driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances as the same offense. Impairment of normal faculties or a blood alcohol level (BAL) of .08 or above subjects the driver to prosecution. To be charged with a DUI, the person must be in “actual physical control” of the vehicle.

Florida Statute 316.193 outlines DUI penalties. DUI convictions not causing property damage, personal injury, or death, may include:

First conviction:

For BAL less than .15 (and no minor in the vehicle)

  • A $500 to $1,000 fine

May be sentenced to serve up to six months. Court has the discretion to mandate sentence be served in a residential alcoholism or drug abuse treatment program and credited toward the term of imprisonment.

  • Impoundment of vehicle for 10 days.

For BAL of .15 or higher (or if a minor was in the vehicle)

  • $1,000 to $2,000 fine
  • May be sentenced to serve up to nine months.
  • Impoundment of vehicle for 10 days.

Second conviction:

For BAL less than .15 (and no minor in the vehicle)

  • $1,000 to $2,000 fine
  • May be sentenced to serve up to 9 months.
  • For conviction within five years of first conviction, impoundment of vehicle for 30 days.

For BAL of .15 or higher (or if there was a minor in the vehicle)

  • $2,000 to $4,000 fine
  • May be sentenced to serve up to 12 months.
  • For conviction within five years of a first conviction, impoundment of vehicle for 30 days.

For any second conviction within five years of a prior conviction, mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days, up to 30 days. Court has discretion for longer sentence.

Penalties increase with subsequent convictions, and could go as high as a $4,000 fine and 5 years imprisonment.

DUI Crash Involving Property Damage or Personal Injury

  • Up to $1,000 fine or one-year imprisonment.

Repeat DUI Offender or Causing Serious Bodily Injury

  • Up to $5,000 fine and/or five years imprisonment.

Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide

  • Up to a $10,000 fine, and/or up to 30 years imprisonment.

Driver License Revocations may range from 180 days to a permanent revocation, depending on the number of convictions, severity of offense, and other factors.

Ignition Interlock Device

According to Florida Statute 316.193, the court may require anyone convicted of DUI to have their vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device that will prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver’s BAL is greater than 0.025 or as otherwise specified by the court. Statute 316.193 requires an interlock device for at least one year for a second conviction.

Though Florida’s DUI laws are strict, they tragically do not stop people from getting behind the wheel each year while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These cases are often linked to substance use disorder, which is treatable. If you or a loved one have struggled with DUI or alcohol-related offenses, know that help is possible.

Turning Point of Tampa has been offering Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact our admissions department at 813-882-3003800-397-3006 or admissions@tpoftampa.com.

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