In Florida, drivers of all ages can be convicted of a standard DUI for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of (actually impaired by) drugs or alcohol. However, Florida’s underage DUI laws also prohibit drivers who are under the age of 21 from having a BAC of .02% or more. In other words, these younger drivers will likely be cited for an underage DUI if caught driving with a BAC of at least .02% but less than .08%.
An underage DUI is not a criminal charge and cannot lead to jail time. But a violation will result in license-related penalties and possibly require the offender to participate in substance abuse education.
License suspension. A driver under the age of 21 who’s cited for driving with a BAC of at least .02% faces a six-month suspension for a first offense. For a second or subsequent violation there’s a one-year suspension.
Treatment. Completion of a DUI evaluation and course will also be required if the driver had a BAC of at least .05%. The driver must show proof of substance abuse course completion prior to license reinstatement. The results of the substance abuse evaluation are forwarded to the driver’s parents if the driver was younger than 19 years old.
Test refusal. All Florida drivers are considered to have given their implied consent to chemical testing for drugs or alcohol. An officer who has probable cause to believe an underage driver has consumed any alcohol can request the driver take a breath or blood test. Refusal of a lawfully requested test will result in license seizure and a one-year suspension. A subsequent refusal offense will result in an 18-month license suspension.
Hardship license. Unless the driver has two prior DUI offenses, he or she can apply for a hardship license. The hardship license permits the holder to travel to and from work during the suspension period with the use of an ignition interlock device. The applicant must serve at least 30 days of the suspension and enroll in a DUI substance abuse education course to apply for a hardship license.
Unlike a standard DUI—which is handled in a criminal court—an underage DUI is dealt with administratively through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. If you wish to contest an underage DUI, a written request for review must be submitted to the department within ten days of the notice of suspension.