Guide to Florida DUI Laws
Being convicted of a drunk driving offense in Florida can affect your ability to find a job or drive your car legally. Understanding Florida DUI laws can help you avoid a conviction and get representation if you need it. This guide will teach you about the various laws that Florida has enacted to prevent driving under the influence. If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense, the best person to talk to about the particulars of your situation is a Florida DUI attorney.
Legal Blood Alcohol Levels
Most states in the United States, including Florida, have adjusted the illegal blood alcohol content (BAC) level to .08 rather than .10 after studies showed this BAC to be dangerous for many drivers. Drivers who are under 21 can be arrested for DUI according to Florida DUI laws for having any amount of alcohol in their system. Commercial drivers can have some alcohol in their systems, but only .04—half of what is allowable for non-commercial drivers.
Florida DUI Penalties
Penalties according to Florida DUI laws are stiff, even for a first offense. The first time you get caught driving drunk in Florida, you can expect to have your driver's license suspended for six months to a year. You may also go to jail for up to 9 months (up to 6 months if your BAC is less than twice the legal limit) and pay a fine of up to $2000.
If you have your driver's license suspended, you may be able to seek out a hardship permit to allow you to drive to work or school, but only after completing a DUI school course. You may also be able to substitute community service for some or all of your fine according to Florida DUI laws. In some situations, you may be able to avoid jail time by agreeing to inpatient or outpatient drug and alcohol counseling and treatment.
Can I Refuse the Test?
If you have been asked to submit to a breath test or urine test during a traffic stop, Florida's implied consent laws may mean that you can be arrested for your refusal to submit. You are required to be informed by the police officer who stopped you of the consequences of refusal. If you refuse testing for the first time, Florida DUI laws allow the officer to have your license suspended for six months. However, if you refuse for a second time, the police officer may be able to arrest you and have your license suspended for 18 months. In order for you to be convicted for refusing to take the breath test, the arresting officer will need to show that you were given proper warning according to Florida DUI law.
In some cases, a Florida DUI attorney may be able to help you seek a reduction in your charges. Sometimes you may be able to plead your DUI down to a reckless driving conviction. Florida DUI laws allow the state to treat this conviction as a drunk driving offense if you are convicted a second or subsequent time.