Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious charge that carries serious penalties. In Florida, DUI is one offense, which can be proved either by impairment of normal faculties, or unlawful blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% or higher (DUI Per Se). Regardless of how the offense is proven, the penalties upon conviction are the same.
Florida has a “per se” DUI law. This means that once a BAC level of .08 or higher is established, the prosecution does not have to additionally prove impaired driving. The fact that a person was driving with a BAC of .08% or higher is enough.
DUI’s are typically charged as misdemeanors in Florida. A DUI can become a felony charge, however, if any of the circumstances occur that is listed below. Felony DUI charges carry more severe penalties.
NOTE: First and second DUI offenses are classified as misdemeanors. However, more severe penalties will be given if the person’s BAC level was .15 or higher, or if there was a minor under the age of 18 in the car at the time of the DUI arrest.
DUI With Property Damage:
A DUI offense which results in damage to the property or person of another is a misdemeanor in the first degree. This means that if you are arrested for DUI following an accident in which the property of another was damaged, you may be charged under the DUI Property Damage section of the Florida DUI statute. A DUI Property Damage charge carries more severe penalties then a regular first offense DUI.
Florida’s Zero Tolerance Law:
Any person under the age of 21 who is pulled over during a lawful traffic stop and suspected of DUI will be charged for DUI if they have a BAC of .02 or higher.
Florida Felony DUI Charges
Third Offense DUI:
A third DUI conviction for an offense that has occurred within 10 years after a prior conviction is considered a 3rd degree felony.
Fourth or Greater DUI Conviction:
A fourth or subsequent DUI conviction is also considered a 3rd degree felony, regardless of when any prior conviction or violation occurred.
DUI With Serious Bodily Injury (3rd degree felony):
“Serious Bodily Injury” means an injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ. Any person who commits a DUI in Florida that results in serious bodily injury commits a felony in the third degree.
In Florida, DUI manslaughter is defined as DUI resulting in death of any human being or unborn quick child. DUI manslaughter may be charged as a second degree felony or a first degree felony, depending on the the circumstances. If at the time of the crash the person knew, or should have known that the crash occurred, and the person failed to give information and render aid, then the DUI manslaughter will be charged as a first degree felony.
A conviction for DUI manslaughter has mandatory minimum penalties.
DUI – Commercial Motor Vehicles
The Florida Commercial Motor Vehicle laws make it illegal to drive a motor vehicle with a BAC of .04 or higher, while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance, and while in possession of a controlled substance. It is also illegal to refuse to submit to a chemical test to determine alcohol concentration while driving a commercial motor vehicle.