Florida Driving Under the Influence Laws and Penalties: First Time Offenders

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited in all 50 states. Florida takes the offense of driving under the influence seriously - which means that a DUI conviction could possibly ruin your professional and personal life. Those convicted of DUI in Florida face jail time and serious fines. Those convicted of DUI in Florida face jail time and serious fines.

Florida’s “Driving Under the Influence” Defined 

Title XXIII, Chapter 316, Florida Statute Section § 316.193(1) Driving under the influence; penalties defines driving under the influence, also called DUI.

According to the statute, someone may be charged with driving under the influence if that individual is driving a vehicle or is otherwise in physical control of that vehicle and is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Specifically, Florida statute § 316.193(1)(a) states that drivers under the influence of alcoholic drinks, substances listed in Florida statute § 877.111, or substances regulated by Chapter 893 may all be charged with DUI if they are impaired. 

Florida statute § 316.193(1)(b) states that a driver may be charged with DUI if the individual’s blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or more per 100 milliliters of blood.

Florida statute § 316.193(1)(c) adds that a driver may be charged with DUI if the individual’s breath alcohol level exceeds 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. 

Driving under the influence charges may be enhanced if property damage or serious bodily injury occurs in an accident. When charges are enhanced, it means additional or harsher penalties may be issued by the court. 

According to § 316.193(1)(c)(4), if a driver has a blood alcohol content or breath alcohol content of 0.15 percent or greater or had a minor under the age of 18 in the car, harsher penalties may be imposed on the driver.

Summary of Florida’s Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Statute 316.193 

Driver’s License Suspension: Once an individual is arrested for DUI in Florida, that individual faces two types of suspensions: A Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) suspension and a criminal suspension.

The DHSMV suspension is imposed if a driver refuses to take a blood, breath, or urine test. It may also be imposed if the driver’s blood alcohol or breath alcohol content was more than 0.08 percent.

The driver’s license will be suspended for a period of at least 6 months. It may be suspended for as long as 18 months.

A criminal driver’s license suspension begins if a driver is actually convicted of DUI in Florida. For a first conviction, the license may be suspended for a period of between 180 days and 1 year.

Incarceration: According to Florida § 316.193(2)(a)(2)(a), a first-time offender may be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail.

Fines: According to § 316.193(2)(a)(1)(a), a fine of up to $1,000 may be ordered.

Administrative Hearing: Once a driver has been arrested for DUI, there is a 10-day period in which that individual may request an administrative hearing to argue against a DHSMV license suspension.

Hardship License: It may be possible to request a hardship license, even if one’s license has been subject to a DHSMV (administrative) suspension. The driver must have no more than two previous DUI convictions, must have at least enrolled in DUI school, and must have served either 30 days of a suspension imposed for having a blood alcohol content or 0.08 or greater or 180 days of a suspension imposed for denying a breath or blood test.

DUI School: First-time offenders are required to complete a 12-hour course on driving under the influence. 

Community Service: First-time offenders must complete at least 50 hours of community service.

Impoundment: The motor vehicle that was used at the time of the DUI arrest must be impounded for 10 days.

Definition of “Actual Physical Control”: Florida case law has defined “actual physical control” as the driver being in the vehicle or on the vehicle and having the ability to operate the vehicle. 

Ignition Interlock Device: An ignition interlock device may be placed on the vehicle for up to 6 months.

Implied Consent in Florida

All Florida drivers have given implied consent to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test if they are believed to be driving under the influence. Drivers who refuse to take these tests may have their licenses suspended for up to 12 months for a first-time offense.

DUI with Property Damage in Florida

Florida § 316.193(c)(3)(c)(1) states that someone who causes property damage while driving under the influence is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. Florida § 775.082(b)(3)(c)(4)(a) provides that these misdemeanors are punishable by at most one year in prison.

Florida § 775.083(1)(d) provides that a fine of $1,000 may be ordered as well.

DUI Causing Great Bodily Injury or Death in Florida 

Even for first-time offenders, there are serious consequences for driving under the influence if great bodily injury or death occurs.

Florida § 316.193(c)(3)(c)(2) adds that if serious bodily injury is caused as a result of driving under the influence, the driver may be convicted of a third-degree felony. According to Florida § 775.082 (1)(b)(3)(e), a third-degree felonies are punishable by at most 5 years in prison.

Florida § 775.083(1)(c) adds that a fine of at most $5,000 may also be ordered.

If the driver caused the death of another person (including an unborn child), the driver may be convicted of DUI manslaughter. According to Florida § 316.193(c)(3)(c)(3)(a), the crime is a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony, according to § 775.082 (1)(b)(3)(d), is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and, according to § 775.083(1)(b), a fine of no more than $10,000.

If the driver knew that the crash occurred, and another individual or unborn child was killed as a result, the driver may be convicted of a first-degree felony if the driver did not exchange information or render aid (Florida § 316.193(c)(3)(b)(i)-(ii)).

First-degree felonies are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (Florida §§ 775.082 (3)(b)(1); 775.083(1)(b)).