Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense that puts others at risk for injury or death. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Florida, the penalties can be harsh if you are convicted. In addition to formal penalties doled out by the legal system, you might suffer professional and personal consequences, too.
Whether you’ve been released on bail, you are still locked up, or you are searching for legal help for a loved one, contact the skilled DUI defense team at Khonsari Law to discuss the circumstances of your arrest and charges. A good defense attorney might be able to help you reduce your charges, reduce your penalties, or get your case dismissed.
Florida law defines a DUI as driving under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or a controlled substance as evidenced by the impairment of a driver’s normal faculties, or a blood alcohol or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more. Section 316.193 of Florida Statutes contains all of the laws concerning DUIs and their penalties. Below we provide a broad overview of potential fines, imprisonment, license suspensions, and other laws that govern DUI convictions in Florida.
Fines for DUI Convictions in Florida
Like all penalties for DUI convictions in Florida, fines vary based on the driver’s blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC), whether the driver has been convicted of past DUIs, and whether a minor was in the vehicle. The fines, as of August 2019, are as follows:
- First conviction. Fines range from $500 to over $1,000, but increase to between $1,000 and $2,000 if the driver’s BAC was greater than 0.15, or a minor was in the vehicle.
- Second conviction. Fines range from $1,000 to over $2,000, but increase to between $2,000 and $4,000 if the driver’s BAC was greater than 0.15, or a minor was in the vehicle.
- Third conviction. Fines range from $2,000 to over $5,000, but increase to a minimum of $4,000 if the driver’s BAC was greater than 0.15, or a minor was in the vehicle.
- Fourth and subsequent convictions. Minimum fines are $2,000, but increase to a $4,000 minimum if the driver’s BAC was greater than 0.15, or a minor was in the vehicle.
Jail Time for DUI Convictions in Florida
If you are convicted of a DUI, Florida law gives the court discretion to sentence you to jail time. In some cases, the court might order you to serve your time in an inpatient alcohol and/or substance abuse treatment program in lieu of jail time or reduce your sentence based on the amount of time you spend in treatment. Mandatory and maximum jail sentences for each conviction are below:
- First conviction. Jail time cannot exceed six months unless the driver’s BAC was greater than .15 or a minor was in the vehicle. In these cases, those convicted of a DUI face up to nine months in jail.
- Second conviction. Jail time cannot exceed nine months unless the driver’s BAC was greater than .15 or a minor was in the vehicle. In these cases, a court can order up to one year of imprisonment. When a second conviction occurs within five years, drivers must serve 10 days in jail.
- Third conviction. Jail time cannot exceed one year unless the third conviction occurs within ten years of a prior DUI conviction. In these cases, drunk drivers face at least 30 days of jail time, but the court can order up to 10 years of prison time.
- Fourth and subsequent convictions. Habitual offenders who have been convicted of four or more DUIs face up to five years in prison.
Vehicle Loss After a DUI in St. Petersburg
Florida law allows the court to impound or immobilize a vehicle after they convict a person of a DUI, as long as the person’s family has other transportation. Vehicle impoundment cannot occur at the same time they are serving jail time. The amount of time a court impounds or immobilizes a vehicle depends on the driver’s history with DUIs.
- First conviction: The driver’s vehicle is immobilized or impounded for 10 days.
- Second conviction (within five years): The driver’s vehicle is immobilized or impounded for 30 days.
- Third conviction (within 10 years): The driver’s vehicle is immobilized or impounded for 90 days.
Misdemeanor and Felony DUI Laws
All DUI convictions are at least a second degree misdemeanor under Florida law; however, some circumstances might elevate the charges and associated convictions to a serious first degree misdemeanor or a felony. Here are some common scenarios:
- When a DUI results in property damage or bodily harm, the driver has committed a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and a year in jail.
- When a DUI conviction results in severe bodily injury, the driver is guilty of a third degree felony punishable by up to $5,000 and five years in jail.
- Those convicted of three or more DUIs within 10 years are also guilty of a third degree felony.
- When a DUI leads to someone else’s death, the driver may be found guilty of the second degree felony charge of DUI manslaughter, punishable by up to a $10,000 and 15 years of prison time. If the driver leaves the scene of the accident, the prosecution may elevate the charge to a first degree felony, punishable by up to $10,000 and 30 years in prison.
Get the Legal Help You Need After a DUI Charge in St. Petersburg
Getting charged with a DUI in St. Petersburg can be a life-altering event with harsh consequences. In addition to the laws outlined above, you might also be ordered to attend DUI classes, install an interlock ignition device in your vehicle, and you can expect to have your license suspended or revoked, depending on your situation.
The experienced DUI defense attorneys at Khonsari Law in St. Petersburg can protect your rights and help you get the best outcome for your circumstances. Contact us today for a free consultation at (727) 269-5300 or online.