Chapter 2: Your Driving Privilege
Driving a motor vehicle in Florida is a privilege you earn. You cannot get a license in Florida under the following conditions:
- If your license is suspended or revoked in any state.
- If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- If you cannot drive safely because of mental or physical problems. Deafness alone will not prevent a person from being issued a driver license.
- If you are under the legal age for licensing (15 for Learners license, 16 for Class D or E).
Every driver who gets a license must drive safely to keep it. If you break the traffic laws or become an unsafe driver, your license can be taken away. It can be suspended, revoked, or canceled.
When your license is suspended, it is temporarily taken away.
Suspensions, Revocations and Cancellations
Your license can be SUSPENDED if you:
- Make a fraudulent driver license application.
- Are not able to drive safely.
- Allow your license to be used for a purpose that is against the law.
- Are convicted in a traffic court and the court orders that your license be suspended.
- Refuse to take a test to show if you are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Misuse a restricted license.
- Earn a certain number of points for traffic offenses on the point system.
- Break a traffic law and fail to pay your fine or appear in court as directed.
If your license is revoked, it is taken away for a period of 6 months to life. In some cases, you may apply for a new license after a period of time.
Your license must be REVOKED if you are found guilty of, or department records show:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other controlled substances.
- A felony in which a motor vehicle is used.
- Not stopping to give help when the vehicle you are driving is involved in a crash causing death or personal injury.
- Lying about the ownership or operation of motor vehicles.
- Three cases of reckless driving within one year. Forfeiting bail and not going to court to avoid being convicted of reckless driving counts the same as a conviction.
- An immoral act in which a motor vehicle was used.
- Three major offenses or 15 offenses for which you receive points within a 5-year period.
- A felony for drug possession.
- Vision worse than the standard minimum requirements.
A court may also order that your license be revoked for certain other traffic offenses.
Your license will be revoked for at least three years if you kill someone because of reckless driving.
If your license was issued because of a mistake or fraud (giving false information or identification), it will be canceled.
|Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in property damage of more than $50||6|
|Unlawful speed resulting in an accident||6|
|Any moving violation resulting in an accident||4|
|Passing a stopped school bus||4|
|Driving During Restricted Hours||3|
|Unlawful speed — 16 MPH or more over lawful or posted speed||4|
|Unlawful speed — 15 MPH or less over lawful or posted speed||3|
|(Fines are doubled when infractions occur within a school zone or construction zone, with possible civil penalties up to $1,000 and can be required to complete driving school course.)|
|All other moving violations (including parking on highway outside the limits of municipalities)||3|
|Improper equipment or vehicle in an unsafe condition||0|
|(Operator corrects defects within 10 days from the date the traffic citation was issued)||0|
|Violation of curfew||3|
|Open Container as an operator||3|
|Child Restraint Violation||3|
|*The driver receives the same number of points listed if the conviction occurs out-of-state or in a federal court.|
length of suspension
|12 points within a 12-month period||30 days|
|18 points within an 18-month period,
including points which cause suspensionn under line 1 above
|24 points within a 36-month period,
including points which cause suspensionn under line 2 above
In computing points and suspensionns, the offense dates of all convictions are used. Three points will be deducted from the driver record of any person whose driving privilege has been suspended only once under the point system and has been reinstated, if such person has complied with all other requirements.
NOTE: Serving a point suspensionn does not prohibit these convictions from being used to accumulate additional suspensionns or revocations.
Mandatory Restriction For Minors
Any driver under the age of 18 who accumulates six or more points within a 12 month period is automatically restricted for one year to driving for business purposes ONLY. If additional points are accumulated the restriction will be extended for 90 days for every additional point received.
A licensed driver who is under the age of 17 may not operate a motor vehicle between 11:00p.m. and 6:00a.m., unless accompanied by a driver, who is 21 years of age or older and holds a valid driver license, or the operator is driving to or from work. A licensed driver who is 17 years of age may not operate a motor vehicle between 1:00a.m. and 5:00a.m., unless accompanied by a driver, who is 21 years of age or older and holds a valid driver license, or the operator is driving to and from work.
Reinstatement & Administrative Hearings
If your driving privilege is suspended or revoked, you may be eligible to apply for a hardship license or reinstatement. For eligibility information contact the local Bureau of Administrative Reviews Offices, Driver License Office or the Customer Service Center in Tallahassee.
You can be charged with DUI if you are found to be driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in the state while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances. Controlled substances include narcotic drugs, barbiturates, model glue and other stimulants — whether taken by swallowing, by sniffing, by smoking, by injection or by other means. You will be administratively suspended if you have a breath or or blood alcohol level of .08 or above or refuse to submit to a chemical test. This suspensionn is a mandatory period without a license. If you wish to appeal this suspensionn, you must apply for a formal or informal review hearing at the appropriate Division of Driver Licenses, Bureau of Administrative Reviews Office within 10 days of your date of arrest. This suspensionn is in addition to any penalties directed by the court. A DUI conviction will remain on your driving record for 75 years.
Some effects of drug and alcohol consumption are impaired judgement, slow reaction, poor vision, and concentration. A person's judgement is the first thing affected after drinking an alcoholic beverage.
Any driver under 21 years of age who is stopped by law enforcement and has a breath or blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will automatically have their driving privilege suspended for 6 months. This is an administrative suspensionn and does not reflect as a DUI on the driver's record. If the driver refuses to take a test, their driving privilege is automatically suspended for one year.
Penalties for DUI
Penalties for DUI (including previous DWI and DUBAL convictions)
|1st Conviction||2nd Conviction||3rd Conviction||4th or more conviction|
with BAL .08 or higher or minor in vehicle, not less than $500 or more than $1000
with BAL .08 or higher or minor in vehicle, not less than $1000 or more than $2000
with BAL .08 or higher or minor in vehicle, not less than $2000 or more than $5000
|Not Less than $1000|
|Community Service||50 hours|
|Probation||Not more than 1 year.|
|Imprisonment||Not more than 6 months;
with BAL .08 or higher or minor in vehicle, not more than 9 months
|Not more than 9 months; 2nd conviction within 5 years, 10 days in jail, 48 hours of confinement must be consecutive||Not more than 12 months; 3rd conviction within 10 years, mandatory 30 days, 48 hours must be consecutive||Not more than 5 years|
|License Revocation||Minimum 180 days||minimum 180 days; 2nd conviction within 5 years, 5 year revocation||minimum 180 days; 3rd conviction within 10 years, 10 year revocation||Permanent revocation|
|DUI School||12 hours||21 hours||21 hours|
| DUI School
|Evaluation conducted to determine need for treatment||Evaluation conducted to determine need for treatment||Evaluation conducted to determine need for treatment|
Drinking and Driving
If you drink alcohol, even a little, your chances of being in an accident are much greater than if you did not drink any alcohol.
No one can drink alcohol and drive safely, even if you have been driving for many years. Young drivers are more affected by alcohol because their bodies are still in the growth process, and their livers have not developed to the extent that they can efficiently process the alcohol in their blood stream.
Because drinking alcohol and then driving is so dangerous, the penalties are very tough. People who drive after drinking risk heavy fines, higher insurance rates, loss of license and even jail sentences.
The Dangers of Drinking and Driving
Alcohol reduces all of the important skills necessary to drive safely, such as judgement, reaction, vision and concentration. Alcohol is absorbed into the lining of the stomach and then passes directly into the bloodstream. It reaches your brain in 20 to 40 minutes. Alcohol affects those areas of your brain that control judgement and skill. This is one reason why drinking alcohol is so dangerous; it affects your judgement. Good judgement is important to driving but in this case, judgement helps you to know when to stop drinking. In a way, it's like alcohol puts good judgement on hold. You do not know when you have had too much to drink until it is too late. It is a little like sunburn, by the time you feel it, it is already too late.
Alcohol slows your reflexes and reaction time, reduces your ability to see clearly and makes you less alert. As the amount of alcohol in your body increases, your judgement worsens and your skills decrease. You will have trouble judging distances, speeds and the movement of other vehicles. You will also have trouble controlling your vehicle.
If You Drink, When Can You Drive?
The best advice is if you drink alcohol, do not drive. Even one drink of alcohol can affect your driving. With two or more drinks in your bloodstream you are impaired and could be arrested.
It takes about an hour for your body to get rid of each drink. Time is the only thing that will sober you up.
There are ways of dealing with social situations. Arrange to go with two or more persons and agree which one of you will not drink alcohol. You can rotate among the group being a "designated driver". You can use public transportation or use a cab, if available.
Implied Consent Law
You will be asked to take a blood, a urine or a breath test if a law enforcement officer thinks that you are under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs while driving. By law, if you drive in Florida, you have agreed to take these tests if asked. If you refuse to take the tests when asked, your license will automatically be suspended for one year. A second refusal will result in an 18 month suspension.
In DUI cases involving death or serious injury, you can be required to take the blood test without your consent. The blood must be withdrawn by a doctor, nurse or other health professional.
If you are unconscious and cannot refuse the blood test, blood may be withdrawn. The results of the test may be used as evidence, even if you object after becoming conscious.
Other Drugs and Driving
Besides alcohol, there are many other drugs that can affect a person's ability to drive safely. These drugs can have effect like those of alcohol, or even worse. This is true of many prescription drugs and even many of the the drugs you can buy without a prescription. Drugs taken for headaches, colds, hay fever or tother allergies or those to calm nerves can make a person drowsy and affect their driving. Pep pills, "uppers" and diet they can cause a person to be nervous, dizzy, unable to concentrate and they can affect your vision. Other prescription drugs can affect your reflexes, judgement, vision and alertness in ways similar to alcohol.
If your driving, check the label before you take a drug for warnings about its effect. If you are not sure it is safe to take the drug and drive, ask your doctor or pharmacist about any side effects.
Never drink alcohol while you are taking other drugs. These drugs could multiply the effects of alcohol or have additional effects of their own. These effects not only reduce your ability to be a safe driver but could cause serious health problems, even death.
Illegal drugs are not good for your health and effect your ability to be a safe driver. For example, studies have shown that people who use marijuana make more mistakes, have more trouble adjusting to glare and get arrested for traffic violations more than other drivers.
Emotions can have a great effect on you driving safely. You may not be able to drive well if you are overly worried, excited, afraid, angry or depressed.
- If you are angry of excited, give yourself time to cool off. If necessary take a short walk, but stay off the road until you have calmed down.
- If you are worried, down or upset about something, try to keep your mind on driving. Some find listening to the radio helps.
- If you are impatient, give yourself extra time for your driving trip. Leave a few minutes early. If you have plenty of time, you may not tend to speed or do other thing that can get you a traffic ticket or cause a crash. Don't be impatient to wait for a train to cross in front of you. Driving around lowered gates or trying to beat the train can be fatal.
Other Serious Violations of the License Law
You can be put in jail or made to pay a fine for the following offenses:
- Changing your license in any way. Any changes must be made by the Department.
- Unlawful use of your license, including allowing your license to be used by another person.
- Making a fraudulent application for a driver license or identification card.
- Having more than one Florida driver license.
- Allowing an unlicensed person to use your car, hiring an unlicensed chauffeur, or renting a motor vehicle to someone without a license.
- Giving false statements to an officer or in a courtroom.
- Knowingly giving false information in crash reports.
- Failing to make crash reports.
Florida Motor Vehicle Insurance Laws
In Florida there are two motor vehicle insurance laws. They are the Financial Responsibility Law and the No-Fault law. It is important that you understand these laws because if you do not have the proper insurance, you can lose your driver license and license plate(s) and have to pay large fees to get them back.
The Financial Responsibility Law
The reason for the Financial Responsibility Law is to require owners and operators of motor vehicles to be financially responsible for damages and/or injuries they may cause to others when a motor vehicle crash happens.
This law requires any person to have bodily injury, liability insurance at the time of the following:
- A crash where you are at fault.
- A suspensionn for too many points against your driver license.
- A citation for DUI, which results in a revocation.
- A revocation for Habitual Traffic Offender.
- A revocation for any serious offense where this department is required to revoke your license.
You must have the following minimum insurance coverage:
- $10,000 Bodily Injury Liability (BIL)
- $20,000 Bodily Injury Liability to two or more persons.
- $10,000 Property Damage Liability (PDL), or
- $30,000 Combined single limits.
If involved in any of the above violations and you do not have insurance to comply with the Financial Responsibility Law, your driver license and/or license plate(s) will be suspended for up to three years. You will have to pay a $15 reinstatement fee and show the department certified proof of full liability insurance on Form SR-22 for three years to get your driving privilege back.
In addition, if you are the driver or the owner of a vehicle which is in a crash that is your fault, this department can require you to pay for the damages before your driving privilege is reinstated.
Under this law, to protect yourself and others, you should have liability insurance on any motor vehicle you own or drive, including motorcycles.
The No-Fault Law
The Florida No-Fault Law requires owners of motor vehicles with four or more wheels (excluding taxis and limousines), that has been in the state for at least 90 days or non-consecutive days during the past 365 days to purchase a policy delivered or issued for delivery in this state. The minimum coverages are:
- $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
- $10,000 of Property Damage Liability (PDL)
You cannot buy a license plate and registration for a car or other four wheel vehicle without having coverage issued in this state. Once you have this insurance, anytime you renew it, fail to renew it, or cancel it, or the insurance company cancels, the insurance company must notify this department. The Department will then notify you to provide proof of new coverage. If you then fail to provide proof of insurance, your driver license and license plate(s) will be suspended for up to three years.
You must maintain insurance coverage throughout the vehicle registration period. If your driver license and license plate(s) are suspended for not having insurance under the No-Fault Law, you will have to pay $150 and show proof of insurance to get them back. If it happens a second time within three years, you will pay $250. If it happens three times within three years, you will have to pay $500.
Also, if your driver license and license plate(s) have been under suspensionn for 30 days or more for a no-fault insurance violation, a police officer can seize your license plate immediately.
You will be issued a Florida Insurance I.D. Card from your insurance company. You must have this card ready to show to any police officer to prove that you have the required insurance. If not, you may receive a ticket for not having proof of insurance.
If your driver license or license plate(s) are suspended for not obeying either of these laws, you cannot get a temporary license for any reason, not even for work purposes only. Any person who makes a false statement or commits forgery about their motor vehicle insurance can be guilty of a second degree misdemeanor.
The department will always provide you with an opportunity to prove insurance coverage or be heard before being suspended.
How to comply:
- By purchasing a motor vehicle insurance policy from a company licensed to do business in Florida.
- By obtaining a Financial Responsibility Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility after posting a satisfactory surety bond of a company licensed to do business in Florida.
- By obtaining a Self-insurance Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility by depositing cash or securities with the Department.
- By obtaining a Self-Insurance Certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility by providing satisfactory evidence of possessing a net unencumbered capital...
Remember: Automobile insurance is an important part of your driving privilege. Protect yourself and others by having and keeping the proper insurance coverage.
Traffic Crashes — Your Responsibilities
If you are in a crash while driving, you must stop. If anyone is hurt, you must get help. You must also be ready to give your name, address, and vehicle registration number; as well as show your driver license to others involved in the crash.
- Report the crash.
If the crash causes injury, death, or property damage, it must be reported. Call the local police, the Florida Highway Patrol, or the County Sheriff's Office. If the crash involves a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) or results in death, injury, or property damage to the extent a wrecker must tow a vehicle away, the officer will fill out a report.
If the crash is investigated by an officer, you, the driver need not make a written report.
If property damage appears to be over $100 and no report is written by an officer, you must make a written report of the crash to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 5 days. The officer will provide you with a copy of the form for your records.
- Move your car if it is blocking traffic.
If your car is blocking the flow of traffic, you must move it. If you cannot move it yourself, you must get help or call a tow truck. This is true anytime your vehicle is blocking the flow of traffic whether it has been involved in a crash or not.
- Appear in court.
If you are charged in a crash, you may have to go to court. The officer who comes to the scene of the crash will file charges against any driver who violated a traffic law. Anyone who is charged will have a chance to explain to the court what happened. The court will then decide what the penalty will be. Anyone who is not charged with violating the law may have to come to court as a witness.
NOTE: A driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash involving death or personal injury will have his or her license revoked. The driver is also subject to criminal penalties.
Crash Involving an Unattended Vehicle
If, while driving, you hit a vehicle with no one in it or if you damage any object that belongs to someone else, you must tell the owner. Give the owner your name, address, and license plate number in person or in a note attached to the object that was hit. Report the crash immediately to the proper law enforcement agency.
Drivers are responsible for any littering from their vehicles. Use ashtrays for cigarettes and litter bags for trash while riding in motor vehicles. Empty ash trays and litter bags only into trash cans.
LITTERING IS A CRIME. PEOPLE WHO THROW TRASH ON PUBLIC STREETS AND HIGHWAYS CAN BE FINED UP TO $500.00 OR JAILED UP TO 60 DAYS. YOU CAN BE CHARGED WITH A FRIST-DEGREE MISDEMEANOR AND FINED UP TO $1000.00 IF DUMPING MORE THAN 15 POUNDS OF TRASH.
The court may also require you to pick up litter along roadways.
It is against the law to damage the roads by driving on the rim of a flat tire or by any other means.