Some of the toughest penalties in the United States are Florida’s DUI (Driving Under Influence) laws. These laws concern driving under the influence of liquor, drugs or a combination of them. It’s also important to know that you cannot but submit to an alcohol test and that there are penalties meted out, depending on whether this is your first, second or umpteenth conviction.Here are the basics of these laws that you should be familiar with.
Legal Age for Drinking in Florida
If you are a non-commercial driver, aged 21+, you could be considered legally drunk if your blood alcohol level reads 0.08% or more. If you drive a commercial vehicle, you are legally drunk when you have a blood alcohol level of0.04% or more. If you are under 21 years of age, your blood alcohol level should read 0.02 or more for you to be called drunk.
If You’re Not Yet 21
There may be a range of penalties that apply to you, but if you’re aren’t yet 21 but have committed a DUI, you will need to have a BAC of 0.02 or more to be called intoxicated. You will be given a six-month suspension, if this is your first conviction and if it’s your second or subsequent one, you will be suspended from driving for a year.
If your BAC was 0.05 or more, you will be asked to do a course on substance abuse, including substance abuse consultation. If you are under 19, your parents will be given the results of the consultation. If you’re under 21, you can be sued and punished under the prevailing DUI laws that apply to adults.
Apart from Florida’s other DUI laws that apply to commercial drivers convicted of DUI, you, as a commercial driver will be debarred from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. If you were transporting dangerous material at the time of being detained for DUI violations, you will be disqualified from driving commercial vehicles for the next three years.
If this is your second DUI when driving a commercial vehicle, you will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for the rest of your life.
Field Sobriety Test
If a law enforcement officer in Florida suspects that you are drinking and driving, he will ask you to pull over and he will subject you to a Field Sobriety Test. He will check your eyes for signs of alcohol intake and put you through a few mental sharpness tests.
He will also ask you to do a few physical tasks that demand coordination. This will prove whether you are, in fact, intoxicated or not. If he finds you intoxicated to some degree, you will be asked to go through a breathalyzer exam and/or a urine alcohol or blood test.
You are obliged to agree to the blood, breathalyzer and urine tests. However, if you refuse, your license will be suspended for a year. If this is your second offense and again you refuse to go through these tests, your license will be suspended for 18 months and will be charged with a misdemeanor. If the accident you’re involved in involves death or injury, the police may also draw blood from you.
You May Be Arrested
If there is sufficient evidence that points to the fact that you are intoxicated, you will immediately be charged and arrested under the state’s DUI laws for drinking and driving. You will not be allowed to drive any longer, and the police will impound your car. There have been cases where people have been arrested for not co-operating with law enforcement officers conducting DIU checks. It makes sense to have resources such as attorney contacts, prison survival guides, and prison finder services handy if you suspect a loved one might be in such a situation.
At this point, you should ask for permission to speak to your attorney. You will remain arrested until you meet the following criteria:
- You are no longer intoxicated.
- You aren’t impaired anymore.
- Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is below 0.05.
- It’s eight hours since you’ve been arrested.
Learn About DUI Penalties
If you are found guilty of DUI, your penalty could vary depending on your specific case and the judge’s findings. The maximum penalties will also depend on your history, but here’s what you can expect:
1st Offense: You will have to pay a fine ranging between $500 and $1,000, do 50 hours of community service, and spend six to nine months in prisonwith a probation of a maximum of one year and your vehicle will be impounded for 10 days.
2nd Offense: For a second offense, the fine goes up to anything between $1,000 and $4,000, along with a jail term of nine to 12 months along with mandatorily spending 10 days at least in prison. Further, your car will be impounded for 30 days.
3rd Offense: A third time offender will have to pay a steep fine ranging between $2,000 and $5,000, spend between nine and 12 months in jail and mandatorily spend 30 days in prison, while your vehicle will be impounded for 90 days.
4th Offense: If you’ve got a history of three offenses already, you stand to pay a fine of $2,000 or more, and might be awarded a jail term of five years with a minimum mandatory 30 days and your vehicle will be impounded for 90 days.
Whether this is your first, second, third or fourth offense, you are well within your rights to consult your attorney for advice, even if you are clearly in the wrong.
Whether you’re 18, 21 or over, you are bound by Florida’s strict DUI laws. It pays to be aware of them and the penalties involved when you first start driving so that you know your limitations and work within them.