Penalties for Third-Offense DUI Conviction in Florida

Read about the penalties for a Florida third-offense DUI.

By , Attorney · University of San Francisco School of Law

Florida law punishes DUI repeat offenders more severely than drivers who are convicted of first-offense DUI. A third-offense DUI typically carries penalties including fines, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, and having to install an ignition interlock device (IID). If a motorist's third DUI comes within ten years of one of the prior two DUIs, there's also mandatory jail time.

The penalties for a third DUI conviction are further enhanced where the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15% or more, was involved in an accident resulting in property damage or someone being injured, or had a passenger who was under 18 years old.

This article discusses the administrative and criminal penalties of a Florida third-offense DUI.

What Is Considered a Third-Offense DUI in Florida?

The "look-back" period is the amount of time that DUI convictions stay on your record for the purpose of determining whether a subsequent DUI will be punished as a second or third offense.

For some sentencing purposes, such as determining the amount of fines, a DUI will be counted as a third offense regardless of how long ago the prior two DUIs occurred. But for other purposes—including the minimum and maximum jail times—there's a ten-year look-back period. In other words, at least one of the priors must have been within the past ten years to count.

Is a Third DUI a Misdemeanor or Felony in Florida?

A third-offense DUI in Florida will generally be a misdemeanor if both of the motorist's priors were more than ten years ago. However, if at least one of the prior DUI convictions was within the last ten years, the third DUI will be a third-degree felony.

Criminal Penalties for a 3rd DUI Conviction in Florida

The specific penalties you'll face for a third DUI in Florida depend on the circumstances. However, below we discuss the range of possibilities.

Jail Time for a 3rd Florida DUI Conviction

DUI third-offenders with at least one prior DUI conviction within the past ten years face a minimum jail sentence of 30 days. However, these offenders can get up to five years in prison. There's generally no mandatory jail time for a third DUI if neither of the motorist's prior convictions was within the past ten years.

Fines for a 3rd DUI Conviction in Florida

The fines for a standard third-offense DUI typically range from $2,000 to $5,000.

License Suspension for a 3rd DUI Conviction in Florida

If you're convicted of a third DUI and you had at least one prior DUI within the past ten years, the judge must revoke your license for at least ten years. (For a fourth DUI conviction, your license will be revoked permanently.)

Florida's Ignition Interlock Requirements for DUI Third Offenders

All drivers convicted of a third DUI in Florida will be required to have IIDs installed on their vehicles for at least two years.

Vehicle Impoundment for a 3rd Florida DUI Conviction

Motorists who are convicted of a third DUI and have at least one prior DUI within the past ten years will have their car impounded for at least 90 days. The 90-day impoundment can't overlap with any time that the driver spends in jail for the DUI conviction.

Administrative License-Related Penalties for a 3rd Florida DUI

Although a DUI conviction will result in license revocation, Florida's licensing agency can administratively suspend a driver's license even without a criminal conviction.

Administrative License Suspension for a 3rd DUI Arrest in Florida

Typically, your license will be administratively suspended by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) if you're caught driving with a BAC of .08% or more. It's a one-year suspension for drivers who've previously had their licenses 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).

Generally, an administrative suspension is possible even if the motorist isn't ultimately convicted of a DUI in criminal court.

Getting a "Restricted" or "Hardship" License After a DUI Suspension in Florida

When your license is suspended for a DUI, it's often possible to get a "hardship" license (sometimes called a "restricted" license). With a hardship license, a person can typically drive only to and from work, school, church, and medical appointments. A person whose license is suspended for driving with a BAC of .08% or more will generally be eligible for a hardship license after completing 30 days of the administrative suspension. But for those first 30 days, (often called the "hard" suspension period), the person won't be allowed to drive at all.

Defenses to a Third DUI Charge in Florida

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:

  • it's arguable that the person wasn't in actual control of the vehicle at the time of arrest
  • the person's BAC was very close to the legal limit, or
  • one or more of the prior convictions was from another state and the laws of that state are dissimilar to those of Florida.

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.

Talk to a Lawyer

The consequences of a DUI are serious—especially if it's your third DUI. Get in touch with a DUI attorney right away if you've been arrested or charged for DUI. An attorney can help you understand what you're facing and how best to handle your situation.

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