DUI In Florida. An Overview

We should all be mindful of Florida’s conservative DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws. It goes without saying that we should all drink responsibly. But, did you know that three martinis in a two hour period will put a 180 lb. man over a .08 BAC (breath alcohol concentration)?  Likewise, four glasses of Champagne intwo hours will put a  twenty-five pound woman over the limit.  So sometimes, either by poor judgment, bad luck or over-zealous law enforcement, people are arrested for DUI. Here are some things you should know:

Facts About a Florida DUI Arrest

  1. If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida you only have ten days to appeal the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.
  2. A Florida dui conviction will result in a permanent criminal record.
  3. A Florida DUI conviction will result in costly fines, lengthy probation, substance abuse classes, a driver’s license revocation, and a possible ignition interlock device being installed on your car.
  4. A Florida DUI conviction may result in higher automobile insurance costs.

Taking the Breath Test or Refusing

If you blow over a .08 BAC you will face an immediate DHSMV based suspension of your driving privileges for six months. If you refuse to take the breath test, the suspension period is for one year. You have 10 days to file an appeal of this suspension with DHSMV. If you win the appeal, you get your license back. If you lose the appeal, your license remains suspended and you won’t be eligible for a work permit/hardship license for 30 days if you took the test and blew over the limit or for 90 days if you refused. A second refusal to submit to a breath and/or urine test may be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail.

Ignition Interlock Devices

An Ignition Interlock Device is machine attached to a vehicle’s ignition system requiring the driver to breathe into and register no alcohol before the car will start. If any alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start. Any person convicted of a first offense DUI with a BAC over .15, or a second or third DUI offender who intends to obtain a permanent or restricted driver license, is required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, at their own expense. Drivers are required to submit proof of the interlock installation to the DHSMV before they can be issued a license.

A DUI Conviction Usually Affects Insurance If you are convicted of DUI your insurance company will probably find out. Typically, your rates will go up, sometimes substantially, or the company may simply cancel your policy. If your insurance company raises your premiums but keeps you as an insured, you will likely be labeled a "high-risk driver."

Florida law requires the insurance company to provide DHSMV with an SR-22 Proof of Insurance Certificate, which removes your license suspension.

Florida Third DUI Offense Is A Felony

Florida’s DUI laws have allowed prosecutors to charge a third dui offense within ten years of any prior DUI as a third degree felony. Some jurisdictions may prosecute these cases as misdemeanors.

Defenses to DUI Cases

There are dozens of valid legal defenses to a DUI prosecution. An experienced dui defense attorney will determine which of those may be applicable in your case. These are not "loopholes", but valuable and meaningful constitutional protections which we all share.