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.
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 second or third offense. For some sentences 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 jails times—there’s a ten-year look-back period. This means that at least one of the priors must have been within the past ten years.
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.
License suspension. 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.
“RESTRICTED” OR “HARDSHIP” LICENSES
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.
Jail time. 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. The fines for a standard third-offense DUI typically range from $2000 to $5000.
License revocation. 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.)
Ignition interlock devices. 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. 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.
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.