Learn about Florida DUI law and some of the penalties for driving under the influence in Florida.

DUI Laws in Florida

Read about Florida DUI law and penalties.

April 25, 2016

In Florida, you can get a DUI (driving under the influence) if you drive or are in physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher—often called a “per se” DUI or “DUBAL” (driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level)—regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired. (Sometimes the term “blood alcohol level” (BAL) is used instead of BAC.) However, a driver can also get a DUI for driving while impaired to “some degree” as the result of ingesting alcohol, drugs, or any combination of these.

(For more on the two types of standard DUI, see What’s the Difference Between Per Se and Impairment DUIs?)

While most DUIs involve driving, it’s possible to get a DUI in Florida without actually moving your vehicle. Florida law makes it illegal not only to drive a vehicle under the influence, but also to “operate” or be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle in such a state of impairment. So, for instance, an intoxicated motorist who’s found by police slumped over the wheel with keys in hand could be prosecuted for DUI even though the car never moved.  

And like all other states, Florida has “implied consent” laws that generally require all motorists lawfully arrested for DUI to submit to chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine) for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol or drugs in their systems.

Below you’ll find more about Florida DUI law and some of the possible penalties for refusing chemical testing and DUI conviction.

In Florida, What are the Consequences of Refusing to Take a Chemical Test After Being Arrested for DUI?

Here are the consequences for refusing chemical testing where an officer has appropriately requested that you do so:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

1-year license suspension

18-month license suspension if driver’s license has previously been suspended for refusal

18-month license suspension if driver’s license has previously been suspended for refusal

Whereas in most states refusal has only administrative consequences (license suspension), in Florida, it’s a misdemeanor to refuse testing if you’ve had your license suspended in the past for refusing a chemical test. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 316.1939.)

In Florida, When are Police Supposed to Measure Your BAC?

To be convicted of a per se DUI in Florida, the prosecution must prove your BAC was over the legal limit at the time you were driving. But DUI investigations take time, so there’s always going to be at least some delay between when a motorist was driving and chemical testing was conducted. Florida law says the results of a chemical test are generally admissible to prove BAC if police test a DUI suspect within a “reasonable time” after the suspect was pulled over. What constitutes a “reasonable time” depends on the facts of the case. (Miller v. State, 597 So. 2d 767 (1991).)

What’s the Maximum BAC for Underage Drivers in Florida?

In Florida, it’s illegal for underage motorists (under 21 years old) to drive with a BAC of .02% or more. For a first offense, the motorist’s license will be suspended for six months. Underage drivers who are caught a second time driving with a BAC of .02% or more face a one-year suspension. Additionally, underage drivers with BACs of .05% or more must complete substance abuse programs before they’ll be allowed to get their licenses back.  

What are the Minimum Jail Times for a DUI in Florida?

Here are the minimum jail sentences for a first, second, and third DUI conviction in Florida:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

No minimum jail term

10 days jail

30 days jail

How Long will Prior DUI Convictions Remain Relevant for Sentencing Purposes in Florida?

For some purposes—including determining the minimum jail time—a Florida DUI will be considered a second offense if you had a prior DUI conviction within the past five years. On a third-offense DUI, there's a 30-days minimum jail sentence if you’ve had two prior DUI convictions and at least one of the priors was within the past ten years. You’ll face enhanced fines for a second or third-offense DUI regardless of how long ago your prior convictions were.

Can a DUI be “Pleaded Down” to a "Wet Reckless" in Florida?

If you’re charged with a DUI in Florida, in might be possible to "plea bargain" for a lesser charge. The term “wet reckless” refers to a plea bargain where a DUI is reduced to a reckless driving charge. Florida is one of the few states that have a wet reckless statute. In addition to the punishments imposed for all reckless driving convictions—which are less than those for a DUI—motorists convicted of a wet reckless (reckless driving involving alcohol or drugs) will have to participate in a substance abuse evaluation and education course. Drivers who are referred to substance abuse treatment after evaluation will also be required to complete the recommended treatment program.  (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 316.192(5).)

Are Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) Required for Convicted DUI Offenders in Florida?

For first-offense DUIs where the driver had a BAC of .08% or more, a judge may, but isn’t require to, order an ignition interlock device (IID) for a minimum of six months. If, on the other hand, the driver’s BAC was .15% or more, the judge must order an IID for at least six months. Drivers convicted of second-offense DUIs are required to have IIDs for at least a year. And motorists with third-offense DUIs will need to have IIDs on their cars for two years minimum.

Where Can I Get More Information About Florida DUI Law?

Nolo’s DUI/DWI topic page has lots of useful information about DUI law. However, if you’ve been arrested for or charged with a DUI, it’s always a good idea to talk to a local DUI attorney as soon as possible. Go to Nolo’s attorney directory to find someone in your area who can help.

 

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