DUI Basics in Florida

It starts out like any other Friday night. You’re in full-out TGIF mode and ready to kick off the weekend with a bang. You decide to head out to happy hour with some work friends. When you get to the local hot spot, you see they’re offering 2-for- 1 drinks. It’s hard to resist a good BOGO, so you drink more than you usually would. At this point, it’s getting late, so you head out to your car, not realizing quite how tipsy you are, until those flashing red lights appear in your rearview mirror. Your head’s spinning, you’re feeling panicked and a bit nauseous. What are the DUI basics you need to know in Florida?

DUI Basics in FloridaYou’re probably wishing you’d paid a little more attention in Driver’s Ed class. If you’re not sure how DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws work in Florida, here’s a quick refresher course. How does the State of Florida define DUI?  Florida law states that if you are in "actual physical control of a vehicle" (actual physical control of the vehicle means that you could be asleep in a parking lot with the keys in the ignition and still be charged with DUI) and you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs to an extent that your "normal faculties" are impaired or you have a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or more, you are guilty of the offense of driving under the influence.

When you are pulled over, if the police officers at the scene feel there is probable cause that you are DUI, you will be arrested and asked to take a test to measure the alcohol content in your breath or a sample of your urine if illegal drugs or controlled substances are suspected. Knowing the DUI basics in Florida will help you if you find yourself in this unfortunate position. Florida is an implied consent state. That means that by driving (which is considered a privilege not a right), you have consented to any chemical test requested of you. It is written on the bottom of your license.  Refusal to submit to the test that is requested of you by the officer can be used as evidence against you in court.  If you have a prior refusal, you could be charged with a separate crime.

Next question: What are the consequences of this offense? The severity of the penalties depends on several key factors, such as: What is your actual alcohol level? Have you had prior DUI convictions—and if so how many? Was a minor in the car with you? Were you involved in an accident causing damage or injury? Each of these factors comes into play when determining what penalty you face. But even a first offense can lead to a fine that could cost you between $500 to $1000, up to 6 months in jail, probation, completion of DUI school and recommended substance abuse treatment, community service, immobilization of your vehicle and suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of six months.

In Florida, a first offense DUI without an accident is a misdemeanor. A DUI accident with injuries or multiple DUI convictions will land you in jail or even prison.  A third DUI conviction within 10 years or a previous conviction is a Felony.  If there’s a fourth DUI arrest, it will be considered felony DUI regardless of how recent your past convictions occurred.


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Hoping to get your DUI conviction expunged so that a prospective employer doesn’t see it? Not in Florida. Here, expungement of DUI convictions is prohibited. Knowing the basics of DUI in Florida is going to give you knowledge to make the right choices.

So, go ahead and enjoy a drink now and then, but if you’re going to be drinking, select a designated driver, call an Uber or a cab. The consequences of getting behind the wheel are risky. A DUI in Florida is just too costly in so many ways.

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Stuart N. Kaplan, P.A. represents those charged with a crime. Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, they have helped many defend their criminal cases. For more information on Stuart N. Kaplan, P.A. visit


March 9th, 2016

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