Florida DUI Laws & Penalties
In Florida, it is illegal to drive with a .08% BAC (blood alcohol content) or higher if you are over 21 years old. If you are under 21, the legal BAC drops to .02%, thanks to Florida's zero tolerance policy. This means you can be charged with driving under the influence after having a single drink. Drinking is illegal for minors, so you should not have to worry about getting a DUI before you turn 21 years old. But what happens if you do?
First Offense DUI Penalties For Minors
|Age||BAC||License Suspension||Fines||Jail Time||Additional Penalties|
|Under 21||Under .02%||6 months||None||None||None|
|Under 18||Under .02%||6 months||None||None||Enrollment in alcohol education program|
|Under 21||.08% or more||6 months to 1 year||$500–$1,000||Up to 6 months||50 hours community service|
The charges above explain what penalties you will receive for driving while above the legal alcohol limit in Florida. These are the minimum penalties and the judge may exercise his or her discretion and add additional fines or jail time.
If you are convicted of a DUI for a second time, your license suspension will be extended to one year. Having a .05% BAC may result in harsher penalties, including a substance abuse evaluation and enrollment in a treatment course.
Once your BAC is at or above .08%, then you can be charged with a DUI and will receive the same penalties an adult would.
Florida DUI Penalties
| ||Fines||License Suspension||Jail Time||Community Service||Vehicle Impoundment|
|1st DUI||$1,000–$2,000||6 months||Up to 6 months||50 hours||10 days|
|2nd DUI||$1,000–$4,000||1 year||10 days to 12 months|| ||30 days|
Upon your first conviction, a judge may put you on probation. The judge also has the right to order you to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car. The days your vehicle is impounded cannot be the same days you are serving your jailtime. If you only have one functioning car in the household, the vehicle may avoid impoundment.
The fines listed above do not include administrative fines or any additional costs, like purchasing an IID.
Refusing The Test
Florida operates under an "implied consent" law, which means each time you get behind the wheel you are consenting to a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol test. While you can refuse these tests if pulled over, please know your license will be automatically suspended for one year regardless of whether you are later convicted of a DUI. If you refuse again, your license will be suspended for 18 months.
Possession of Alcohol
Driving while under the influence is illegal, but so is possessing alcohol if you are under 21 years old. Even sober, you can face the following charges for transporting alcohol in Florida.
Penalties for Possessing Alcohol as a Minor in Florida
| ||Charge||Fines||Jail Time||License Revocation|
|1st Conviction||2nd-degree misdemeanor||$500||60 days*||6–12 months|
|2nd Conviction||1st-degree misdemeanor||$1,000||1 year*||2 years|
*Jail time can be replaced with a 6-month probation period for a first-time offender or 12-month probation period for a second-time offender.
Requesting a Hearing
After receiving a DUI, your license will be revoked and you will be given a temporary license (if applicable). This license is valid for 10 days, and it gives you 10 days to act. You have three basic options:
- Do nothing
- Request a hearing
- Plead guilty
If you do nothing, you will lose your right to drive for 30–90 days depending on what you are charged with. After that time has passed and you are serving your license suspension, you may request a hardship license, which will allow you to drive to work, school, church, and other necessary functions.
If you request a hearing, you will be given a 45-day temporary license that can be used to drive to necessary functions. If you win your case, your license will be reinstated in full and the charges dropped. If you lose, you must wait 30–90 days, depending on your conviction, during which time you cannot drive. After, you may apply for a hardship license.
If you plead guilty to a DUI, you can request a hardship license immediately.
Impact on Your Personal Life
Several negative consequences may happen to you if you receive a DUI as a minor. Colleges and future employers have the right to ask if you have been convicted of a crime. Colleges have the right to deny you admission and employers can bypass you for another candidate due to a DUI. Your current school (high school or college) may take action against you and can even include expulsion. Your car insurance premiums will also rise.
In the end, a DUI charge is not worth the risk to your wallet, your record, your career, your life or the life of the people around you. Be smart. Don't drink and drive.