What Are the Consequences of a Third DUI in Florida?

The consequences of a conviction for a third DUI offense in Florida are severe. Upon a conviction, the judge must punish the offender by sentencing him or her to jail and impose a number of additional harsh conditions of release while on probation. Judges have little discretion in these sentencing matters.

Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes describes the crime of DUI and recites the various punishments a judge could impose on a convicted DUI offender.  Subsection 1 of §316.193 declares that the person who is driving a vehicle or is in control over a vehicle is guilty of the offense, if, either one or more of the following elements exist at the time of the arrest:

  • The person is influenced by alcohol, drugs, or a combination thereof to the extent that the substances impair the person’s normal faculties; 
  • The person’s blood-alcohol level equals 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood or more; or
  • The breath-alcohol level of the person is the equivalent of 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 210 liters of breath or more.

After the government proves its case against the alleged offender beyond a reasonable doubt, then the government must show that the offense for which the person received a conviction is a third offense. Subsequent offenses from other jurisdictions are admissible to prove a third offense DUI in Florida. 

Subsection (2)(b) of §316.193 controls sentencing for a conviction of a third DUI offense in Florida. The statute obligates the judge to treat a conviction for a third offense DUI in Florida as a third-degree felony provided that the previous conviction was less than ten years prior. Therefore, the three-time DUI offender may be punished according to §§775.082, 775.083, or 775.084

Notwithstanding, §316.193(2)(b)(1) distinguishes between second and third convictions fewer than ten years apart or greater than ten years apart. For a third DUI conviction fewer than ten years from the person’s second conviction, the court must treat the conviction as a felony. Section 775.082 specifies the length of potential incarcerated sentence in Florida for a third-degree felony. Incarceration for a third-degree felony may result in the offender receiving a state prison sentence up to, but not exceeding, five years. However, if the state’s attorney seeks an enhanced penalty because the person is a habitual offender as defined in §775.084, then the mandatory sentence could be as high as ten years depending on the previous criminal history of the person convicted of a third DUI offense. Incarcerated sentences imposed by a judge under §775.084 are minimum-mandatory sentences if the person is a violent offender, and the person may not receive a parole release until five years has been served by the offender.

The judge may pronounce a less harsh sentence for a person convicted of a third DUI in Florida when the period between the second and third convictions exceeds ten years. Florida law does not consider a conviction of a third DUI offense outside of ten years to be a third-degree felony. Instead, the court must treat that conviction like a misdemeanor charge. Therefore, according to §316.193(2)(b)(2), the judge may not send the person to jail for longer than twelve months. Despite treating the conviction as a misdemeanor, §316.193(6)(c) compels a judge to sentence the offender to at least 30 days in jail. The section orders the offender to serve at least 48 hours consecutively. 

The financial sanctions for a third DUI conviction in Florida are hefty as well. Section 775.083(1)(c) indicates that the maximum fine for a third conviction for DUI, as a third-degree felony, is $5,000.00. The fine might not be less than $2,000.00 but any greater than $5,000.00 if the third DUI conviction came more than ten years after the previous conviction. Additionally, Subsection 2 of §775.083 orders the convicted offender to pay a $50.00 fee to the court for costs. 

A sentencing judge must order the defendant to serve a period of probation in addition to the mandatory jail time, fines, and costs. The probationary period requires the offender to report to probation at least monthly, enter and complete a substance abuse treatment program, and pay for the costs of such probation. A violation of probation could require additional incarceration. 

The person convicted of a third DUI offense in Florida will face additional collateral consequences in addition to time spent in jail. Section 316.193(2)(b)(1) requires the judge to impose a restriction on the offender to have an ignition interlock device installed in all vehicles owned, leased, or frequently used by the offender, either individually or jointly, for at least two years. The convicted offender must bear the expense of the ignition interlock device personally. The law governing Florida’s use of ignition interlock devices can be found at §316.1938

A third DUI offense carries a possibility of impounding the vehicle as a component of probation. The impoundment order may not exceed 90-days and may occur only after the offender gets his or her driving privileges reinstated.

How Can Jail Time Be Avoided For A Third DUI in Florida?

Section 319.193(6)(m) provides an "escape clause" for the person facing mandatory jail time to avoid incarceration in a penal facility. This section allows a person facing a third DUI offense in Florida to attend an inpatient alcohol or drug rehabilitation program if ordered by the sentencing judge. An offender ordered by a judge to a residential treatment facility will receive credit, day-for-day, toward the incarceration portion of his or her jail sentence for each day, spent in a treatment facility.  

Another method of avoiding jail for a third DUI in Florida is to enroll in an inpatient treatment program without a judge's order. The Florida sentencing judge may credit any time the person spends in a residential treatment facility while awaiting trial or disposition on the matter toward the mandatory jail sentence. A person might find tackling substance abuse issues on his or her own instead of waiting to be ordered by a court to attend could reduce the amount of time you must spend in jail to zero. Judge’s look favorably on people who take the initiative in an effort to recover from substance use disorders.