The Florida DUI Guide
Driving under the Influence
316.193 Florida Statutes
I just got arrested for a Florida DUI charge. What happens next?
ISSUE ONE: The Implied Consent / Administrative License Suspension (ALS) Proceeding: Under Florida law, any person who accepts the privilege extended by the laws of this state of operating a motor vehicle within the State of Florida is, by operating a vehicle, deemed to have given his or her consent to submit to an approved chemical test or physical test including, but not limited to, an breath test for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his or her blood or breath if the person is lawfully arrested for any offense allegedly committed while the person was driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages. Pursuant to this "implied consent" law, drivers face a penalty (a license suspension) for failing or refusing a chemical (breath / blood) test. See 316.1932 Florida Statutes.
Your Florida drivers license (or your right to drive in Florida if you're not a Florida licensed driver) was most likely suspended for six, twelve or eighteen months for failing (.08 or higher (.02 or higher for minors; .04 or higher for CDL drivers)) or refusing a breath test. Read your paperwork carefully. You generally have ten days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing to challenge (appeal) the administrative license suspension. This hearing is commonly referred to as a DMV Hearing.
If you had a valid Florida driver license at the time of your arrest, the officer should have issued you a temporary license which is valid for the 10 days following your arrest. If you make a timely request for a hearing to contest the administrative license suspension, your temporary permit will generally last until seven days after the administrative hearing. Keep in mind, you face a second separate license suspension if you are convicted of the Florida DUI charge. See below.
ISSUE TWO: The Criminal Charge: Separate and distinct from the implied consent suspension is the criminal charge for driving under the influence.
Under Florida law, you commit the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) if the you are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and:
(a) You are under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, or any controlled substance, when affected to the extent that the person's normal faculties are impaired;
(b) You have a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more; or
(c) You have a BAC of 0.08 percent or more grams of alcohol.Subsections (b) and (c) are sometimes referred to as a Per Se DUI offense or driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level (DUBAL).
Keep in mind that a refusal to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test is generally admissible as evidence in any Florida DUI criminal case. A second or subsequent chemical test refusal is a separate misdemeanor crime.
Read your paperwork carefully, and do not miss any court appearances or a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
Important: These two issues (the implied consent proceeding and the Florida DUI criminal charge) are totally separate from one another.
Will my Florida driver license be revoked / suspended?
RELATED TO ISSUE ONE ABOVE: Your Florida driver license (or your right to drive in Florida if you do not have a valid Florida license) may be suspended for failing―BAC .08% or greater (.02 or higher for minors (persons under 21 years of age))―a breath or blood test or for refusing a breath, or blood test. If you act quickly (typically within 10 days of your arrest), you can request an appeal of the proposed administrative license suspension for failing or refusing the test. A hearing will then be scheduled on your appeal request. If you win this hearing, the administrative license suspension will be overturned. If you lose the hearing (or if you make no appeal), your suspension of six, twelve, or eighteen months goes into effect.
RELATED TO ISSUE TWO ABOVE: If you are convicted of the DUI charge you will also lose your license (or your right to drive in Florida if you don't have a valid Florida license). This suspension typically last from 180 days to two years. Refer to the DUI penalty chart below for more information.
I have a commercial driver license (CDL). What happens to that?
A Florida DUI conviction results in a one year suspension of your commercial driver license regardless of whether you were driving commercially at the time. [If you were driving hazardous materials at the time of your DUI arrest a conviction will result in a three year CDL suspension.] A second DUI conviction will result in a permanent revocation of your CDL.
A first breath test refusal also results in a one year CDL suspension. A second refusal (when there's a prior DUI incident) will result in a lifetime CDL revocation.
What happens if I get caught driving while my driving privilege (license) is suspended or revoked?
Driving while your license is suspended or revoked for a Florida DUI is a new criminal offense. If convicted of this charge, you face jail time and fines. Penalties increase if you have prior DWLS conviction(s). A third conviction can become a felony under Florida law.
Also remember that if you're still on probation for the Florida DUI offense while you get a DWLS, you will violate your probation and face additional jail time for this probation violation (PV).
I really need to drive. Will I be able to get a hardship reinstatement / occupational / restricted / probationary permit?
A hardship reinstatement may be available to you if your license is suspended and you had a valid Florida Driver's License at the time of your suspension. There are two types of hardship reinstatement: Business purpose only and employment purpose only. Business purposes only allows a person to drive to and from work / education; on the job; to medical appointments; and to your place of worship. Employment purposes only allows driving only to and from work and on the job.
Speak to a Florida DUI attorney about whether you qualify and how to apply for hardship reinstatement.
Hardship permits / reinstatement will not allow persons to drive commercially. Put another way, a hardship reinstatement does not allow persons to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
What is the difference between a DUI, DWI, OWI, OUI, OMVI, DWUI etc.?
These terms are all acronyms that refer to the crime commonly known as "drunk driving." Different states use different names for the charge. For example, in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan the charge is generally known as OWI (operating while intoxicated). In New York state, Texas, and in New Jersey, the charge is known as DWI (driving while intoxicated). In Oregon, the term DUII (driving under the influence of an intoxicant) is used. Florida law refers to "driving under the influence" so DUI is used here. Most states, including Georgia and Alabama use the term DUI as well.
Is a DUI charge in Florida a misdemeanor or felony offense?
In Florida, a DUI charge is always a criminal offense. Usually a DUI is a misdemeanor crime. However, a Florida DUI becomes a felony if:
What type of penalties might I face if I am convicted of a Florida DUI charge?
Upon conviction for a Florida DUI a defendant can receive a variety of penalties including alcohol screening / treatment / education (DUI school). A range of typical penalties for Florida DUI convictions is set forth below. Note: Unless otherwise noted, the jail time listed is generally the maximum not the minimum required.
Will I be able to plea bargain / negotiate my Florida DUI charge down to a lesser type offense?
Possibly. Plea bargaining is an area that any experienced Florida DUI attorney would discuss with the prosecutor on the client's behalf. However, Florida courts are prohibited from withholding adjudication in DUI cases or from reducing a DUI charge if the your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 percent or greater.
Will a Florida DUI conviction go on "my record?"
Yes. A DUI conviction will go on your Florida driving record. A Florida DUI will stay on your driving record essentially forever.
Just how much jail / prison time will I have to do if I am convicted of a DUI offense in the State of Florida?
The amount of incarceration (jail or prison) received from a Florida DUI conviction will depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) the following:
• your prior driving record especially your DUI / DWI history (in Florida or elsewhere);
• your level of intoxication / BAC (breath / blood alcohol content especially 0.15 % or greater);
• whether there was an crash / accident involved;
• whether there was bodily injury to another person in the collision;
• which Florida county or city / municipal court your case is in;
• what judge you are sentenced by;
• whether there was a passenger especially a child passenger in your car.
I was involved in a collision along with my DUI. What do I need to know?
Avoiding a Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Hit and Run) Charge. Whenever an operator is involved in an accident in Florida, several obligations arise. Under Florida law, the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall provide the driver's name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving. Further the driver must upon request and if available exhibit the driver's license or permit to drive, to any person injured in such crash or to the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle or other property damaged in the crash. The driver must also assist any injured persons in physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person. See Florida Statute 316.061.
Failure to comply with the above when a person is injured or killed is a felony crime and can result in prison time and a license revocation. See Florida Statutes 316.027. Leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury while also committing a DUI can result in a minimum two year prison sentence. Id.
Failure to comply when only property is damaged is a misdemeanor crime.
Requirement to Notify / Complete a Traffic Crash (Accident) Report. The driver of a vehicle in the State of Florida involved in a crash resulting in injury or death of any persons or damage to any vehicle or other property in an amount of $500 or more must immediately give notice of the crash to the local law enforcement department; however, if the crash involves damage less than $500, no injuries, the vehicles did not need a wrecker, and the crash did not involve an intoxicated or "hit and run" driver, the driver may download and complete a report for insurance purposes.
Will I be placed on probation if I'm convicted of a Florida DUI charge?
Yes. If you're convicted of a DUI in Florida you will be placed on probation for a period of time and ordered to comply with a number of conditions including obtaining an alcohol / drug screening and completing treatment. Typically, probation conditions will include the following:
I am licensed to drive in a state other than Florida and I was cited for a DUI in Florida. Will my driver license be suspended?
Florida only has the authority to suspend your right to drive in the State of Florida. However, Florida and 44 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an agreement known as the "Driver License Compact." Florida will report a Florida DUI conviction to the home state of the driver (assuming the home state has also adopted the Compact). Your own state will then generally take action to suspend your license.
This also works in reverse. If you are a Florida licensed driver and you are convicted of a DUI charge in another state, Florida will likely suspend your license if it learns of the out of state DUI conviction. The state where you received the DUI charge will generally notify Florida once you're convicted.
Will I have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on my car?
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle ignition. In order to start the motor vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the device which then measures alcohol concentration. If the alcohol concentration exceeds 0.05 percent on the interlock device, the vehicle will not start. The table below shows generally when an ignition interlock device may be required in a vehicle under the Florida DUI ignition interlock program. There are costs associated with installation and monthly monitoring of the IID.
What will a DUI charge do to my insurability?
If your insurance company finds out about a Florida DUI one of two things are likely to happen. Either your Florida insurer will raise your rates or your insurance may be cancelled or non-renewed. Your insurance company will learn about your DUI if you have to file an FR-44.
What is an FR-44 / Financial Responsibility Insurance?
An FR-44 is a form from an Florida licensed insurance company certifying that you have purchased liability insurance that meets the required coverage amounts. The FR-44 provides proof to the Florida FLHSMV that you are insured. If you cancel your insurance or the insurance company cancels your policy before your suspension period is over, the company must notify the State of Florida that the insurance is canceled.
If you're convicted of a Florida DUI charge you will be required to file and maintain an FR-44.
FR-44 financial responsibility certification replaces the old SR-22 requirement for Florida DUI convictions. [Most other states require an SR-22 filing.] FR-44 liability insurance coverage limits are double the old SR-22 insurance coverage limits.
Are there any concerns for licensed pilots who get a DUI offense in the State of Florida?
Yes. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has special required reporting requirements for Florida DUI convictions and administrative (implied consent) license suspensions. Learn more here.
Are there any concerns for mariners licensed by the United States Coast Guard who get a DUI?
Yes. An applicant for a Coast Guard credential must disclose all criminal convictions (including Florida DUI convictions) on their application form. In addition, the Regional Exam Center (REC) performs a National Driver Register check on applicants. Once a DUI conviction is identified, the REC evaluates the applicant's conviction and associated facts.
I missed my court date. What should I do now?
Failing to appear (FTA) for a Florida court appearance is to be avoided. When you miss a court hearing, bad things follow. At a minimum, the Florida court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (commonly known as a bench warrant). Talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Sometimes, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant. A new court date will then be scheduled.
What happens if I was on probation when I got arrested for my Florida DUI?
Committing a new offense while you're on probation for a previous offense creates two problems. First, you face the new Florida DUI charge. Second, you face a probation violation hearing for failing to obey all laws (a standard condition of probation). The most serious scenario is when you receive a new Florida DUI offense when you're already on probation for a previous DUI offense. When this happens, its in your best interest to speak to a Florida DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
I'm not a United States citizen. Will a DUI conviction result in my removal from this country?
Probably not. Typical, Florida DUI offenses (no priors; no injuries) are not considered crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies resulting in removal. It is important to consult an experienced immigration lawyer about your situation just as you should consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer about your pending DUI offense.
Keep two points in mind. First, it is very important to answer honestly all questions about prior arrests / convictions on immigration and Visa applications and forms. Lying on these forms is often considered more serious than any DUI conviction. Second, non-citizens should take extra care not to drive on a suspended or revoked drivers license.
Can I represent myself in court on my Florida DUI and / or other criminal offense(s)?
Yes. You have an absolute right to represent yourself on any Florida criminal charge no matter how serious the offense is including a Florida DUI offense. Keep in mind that DUI defense is a complicated area of the law as shown by the information above. If you cannot afford to hire your own counsel, you definitely should apply for court appointed counsel to represent you. You have no right to court appointed counsel at the implied consent license hearing.
Websites, including this one, provide general Florida DUI information but do not provide legal advice or create a lawyer / client relationship. General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your case, problem, or situation. Consult qualified Florida DUI attorneys for advice about any specific problem or charge that you have. Florida lawyers are governed by the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct and Rules of Discipline. This website may be considered an advertisement for services and / or a lawyer referral service under these Rules. Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way. No lawyer associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way. This site is not a solicitation; rather, it is purely informational.
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