The state of Florida has some of the toughest penalties for DUI (driving under the influence) in the country. Under Florida law, “‘driving under the influence’ (DUI) of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances is one offense, proved by impairment of normal faculties or an unlawful blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties upon conviction are the same, regardless of the manner in which the offense is proven (Florida DMV).”
What is a Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC)?
A driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol that is circulating in a person’s bloodstream, and is based on the ratio of alcohol to blood or breath. A person’s BAC and can vary depending on the individual regardless of how many drinks were consumed. The BAC is expressed in terms of weight (milligrams) per unit volume (milliliters). The BAC is the amount of alcohol present in 100 milliliters or 1 deciliter of blood. A BAC of 0,08 (the legal limit in Florida) means that there is 0.08 grams of alcohol in 100mL of blood.
When a person drinks alcoholic beverages, the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body and to the brain which can affect a person’s cognitive functions. The National Highway Safety Administration outlines the typical effects at certain BACs and the associated predictable effects on driving.
- BAC 0.02
- Typically there is a loss of judgement with an altered mood and sense of relaxation. There is a decline in visual functions and ability to divide one’s attention so they are not able to multitask as well.
- BAC 0.05
- There may be exaggerated behavior with loss of small muscle function. There is impaired judgement, lowered alertness and a release of inhibitions. At a BAC of 0.05, the driver has reduced coordination, a reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and a reduced response to emergency driving situations.
- BAC 0.08
- At this level, there may be poor muscle coordination, impaired judgement, self control, reasoning and memory, The driver has difficulty concentrating with short term memory loss, difficulty with speed control, impaired perception and has reduced information processing capability. For most states, this is the legal limit for BAC.
- BAC 0.10
- At a BAC of 0.10, a person has clear deterioration of reaction time and control along with slurred speech, poor coordination and slowed thinking. The driver has a reduced ability to stay in their respective lanes and brake appropriately, leading to increased risk for accidents.
- BAC 0.15
- At a BAC of 0.15, a person has decreased muscle control and a significant loss of balance. This is often the point that a person may vomit from drinking, and the driver has significant impairment in vehicle control and ability to focus on the task of driving. There is impairment in the information processing needed from a visual and auditory perspective as well.
Repercussions for DUI in Florida
For a first time DUI in Florida, the fine is typically between $500 and $1000. If a person has a BAC of .15 or higher or there is a minor in the car, then the fine is between $1000 and $2000. A second DUI conviction within 5 years of a previous DUI conviction will result in a fine of between $1000 and $2000. If there is a BAC level of .15 or higher or there is a minor in the car, then the fine is between $2000 and $4,000. A 3rd DUI conviction (or more) will result in a fine between $2000 and $5000.
There are additional penalties for a DUI that may be assessed by the court’s discretion. This includes the following:
Possible jail time
At the court’s discretion, sentencing terms can potentially be served in a residential drug or alcohol treatment program. For a first DUI conviction, the imprisonment can be up to 6 months, or 9 months if BAC was .15 of higher or if there was a minor in the car. If it is a second conviction, the imprisonment can be up to nine months, or 12 months if BAC was .15 of higher or if there was a minor in the car. If the second conviction was within five years of the previous conviction, there is a mandatory imprisonment of at least 10 days. For a third conviction within 10 years of the previous conviction, there is a mandatory imprisonment of at least 30 days. If it was more than 10 years since the previous conviction, the imprisonment can be up to 12 months. For a fourth or more conviction, imprisonment can be up to five years.
DUI conviction is usually accompanied by impoundment or immobilization of the vehicle that is not concurrent with the incarceration. If there was property damage of personal injury to another, the person is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor. Repeat DUI offenders or crash involving serious bodily injury can be considered a third degree felony. DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide is considered a second degree felony; If the person leaves the scene, it is considered a first degree felony.
Driver’s License Suspension
A person’s driver’s license will be revoked with periods varying depending on the associated consequences. Revocation ranges from 180 days to permanent revocation.
DUI School and Community Service
A person convicted of DUI must complete DUI school for their driver license to be reinstated. Failure to compete the DUI school can result in cancellation of a person’s driver’s license.
Addiction Treatment in Florida
The information provided is designed to be used for educational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. We would recommend that individuals who have been arrested for a DUI in Florida to seek the advice of a licensed attorney and acquire legal representation. If you or your loved one are currently struggling with alcohol and/or struggling to avoid driving while under the influence, Genesis House can help. Our trained professionals will walk you through the admissions process and make sure all of your questions are answered. The first step is admitting you need help, and is often the hardest. Once you take that first step, there will be a team on your side to help you be successful in your new future.