In Florida, DUI repeat offenders face serious penalties. The consequences of a second-offense DUI typically include fines, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, and having to install an ignition interlock device (IID). There's also mandatory jail time for motorists who are convicted of a second DUI in five years.
The penalties for a second-offense DUI are further enhanced where the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15% or more, was involved in an accident that resulted in property damage or someone being injured, or had a passenger under the age of 18.
This article discusses the administrative and criminal penalties of a Florida second-offense DUI.
For some sentencing purposes—including determining the fines and maximum jail sentence—a DUI will be counted as a second offense regardless of how long ago the prior DUI occurred. For other purposes, such as the minimum jail time, there's a five-year look-back period.
In Florida, most second-offense DUIs are misdemeanors. However, any DUI (including a second) can be charged as a third-degree felony if the driver was involved in an accident where another person suffered "serious bodily injury."
The maximum possible jail sentence for a second DUI depends on the circumstances of the case. Here are the maximum jail terms for second-offense DUIs involving the following circumstances:
For DUI second-offenders with a prior conviction within the last five years, there's a minimum 10-day jail sentence.
A standard second-offense DUI carries fines ranging from $1000 to $2000. But if you get a second DUI and your BAC was .15% or greater or you had a passenger under 18 years old, the fines will be from $2000 to $4000. And for all DUIs where another person suffered "serious bodily injury," fines can be up to $5000.
Where a driver had a prior DUI conviction within the past five years, a second DUI conviction carries a license suspension of at least five years. The suspension for a second DUI conviction is separate from the administrative suspension discussed below. However, this doesn't mean that a driver will always have to complete the two full suspensions—oftentimes the suspensions will have at least some overlap.
For all second-offense DUIs, IIDs are mandatory for at least one year.
For a second DUI conviction within a five-year period, the driver's car will be impounded for at least 30 days. The 30 days can't overlap with any time that the driver spends in jail for the DUI conviction.
Although a DUI conviction will result in license suspension, Florida's licensing agency can administratively suspend a driver's license even without a criminal conviction.
Generally, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will administratively suspend the license of a motorist who's arrested for driving with a BAC of .08% or more. The suspension will be for one year if the driver's license was previously suspended by the DHSMV for DUI. Drivers who refuse to submit to chemical testing in violation of Florida's "implied consent" laws face an administrative suspension of at least one year (18 months with a prior refusal). Ordinarily, an administrative suspension is possible even if the person isn't ultimately convicted of a DUI in criminal court.
A person whose license is suspended for DUI can often get a "hardship" license (sometimes called a "restricted" license). Hardship licenses are typically for driving only to and from work, school, church, and medical appointments. A person whose license is suspended for driving with a BAC of .08% or above will generally be eligible for a hardship license after completing 30 days of the administrative suspension. For the first 30 days of the suspension—often called the "hard" suspension period—the person won't be allowed to drive at all.
In Florida, the defenses for a DUI charge depend on the circumstances of the case. However, it's sometimes possible to mount a successful defense if:
But in all cases, it's important to have an attorney look at your case. An experienced DUI attorney will have a good idea of what defenses might work.
Florida DUI law is complicated and the facts of each case are different. It's always a good idea to get in touch with an experienced Florida DUI attorney as soon as possible after being arrested for or charged with a DUI.