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In response to an alarming number of drunk driving accidents in Florida, the state has imposed strict penalties for DUIs. Florida driving under the influence (DUI) victims account for the third-highest number of drunk driving fatalities in the nation.

Under Florida law, a person can be charged with a DUI if their blood-alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. An individual can also be charged if they are under the influence of an illicit or controlled substance such as prescription drugs, marijuana, or cocaine.

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What Is A DUI? Florida Definition

According to Florida DUI laws, you can be charged with a DUI if you’re driving or have physical control of a vehicle and you meet one of the following criteria:

  • Are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both
  • Have a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or greater

Persons under the age of 21 with BAC levels higher than 0.02 percent are considered legally intoxicated and can be arrested for DUI. The same holds true for anyone operating a commercial vehicle who has a BAC level of 0.04 percent.

How Is ‘Driving Under the Influence’ Defined?

There are two elements to Florida’s DUI law:

  • Operating or being in physical control of a vehicle
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs

If there is an impairment of normal faculties, the state can charge you if you’ve been driving under the influence.

What Does ‘Being In Control Of A Vehicle’ Actually Mean?

The meaning of being in control of a vehicle depends on the circumstances. Of course, if you’re driving a vehicle, this satisfies the requirement–but what about other instances? Chances are, if you have the keys, you are likely in control of the car for purposes of a DUI. Florida courts primarily focus on your intent at the time of the stop.

An officer can find you in control of your vehicle if you are:

  • Sitting in a parked car with the engine on
  • Parked on the road or in a public area
  • Sleeping in the driver’s seat while you are intoxicated

A court will likely consider the following factors to determine whether someone is in control of a vehicle:

  • Where the driver is. Is the person in the driver’s seat or elsewhere?
  • Where the vehicle is. Is the car on a public road or was it parked?
  • Where the keys are. Are the keys in the ignition or stored elsewhere?
  • Whether the vehicle can be driven. Is the car operable?

Is Driving Under The Influence A Felony In Florida?

In Florida, as in most states (except New York, Wisconsin, and New Jersey where it is a felony), driving under the influence for the first time is a misdemeanor. Florida classifies DUIs as a felony for third and subsequent offenses. Florida can elevate the misdemeanor to a felony with these aggravating factors:

  • Prior DUI convictions
  • Bodily harm or property damage
  • Driving with a suspended license or other restriction
  • Child endangerment
  • Declining a breathalyzer

Florida DUI Penalties

How recent a prior offense occurred is a major consideration for Florida courts in deciding the penalty for an impaired driving conviction. Here are the typical penalties for a DUI in Florida.

1st DUI

  • Jail.Up to 6 months (up to 9 months if aggravated)
  • Fines. $500 to $1,000 ($1,000 to $2,000 if aggravated)
  • License revocation. 180 days to 1 year
  • Vehicle impoundment. 10 days
  • Ignition interlock device. 6 months if aggravated (optional if BAC level is under 0.15 percent)
  • Other penalties. 50 hours community service; maintain FR-44 for 3 years

2nd DUI

  • Jail. Up to 9 months (up to 12 months if aggravated)
  • Fines. $1,000 to $2,000 ($2,000 to $4,000 if aggravated)
  • License revocation. 180 days to 1 year (if prior offense within 5 years, 5 years suspension)
  • Vehicle impoundment. 10 to 30 days (if second DUI within 3 years)
  • Ignition interlock device. 2 years
  • Other penalties. DUI program (if required); maintain FR-44 for 3 years; Substance abuse evaluation and completion of recommended treatment

3rd DUI: Misdemeanor (No Priors Within 10 Years)

  • Jail. Up to 12 months
  • Fines. $2,000 to $5,000 ($4,000 to $5,000 if aggravated)
  • License revocation. 180 days to 1 year (if prior offense within 5 years, 5 years suspension)
  • Vehicle Impoundment. 10 days to 90 days (if third DUI within 5 years)
  • Ignition interlock device. 2 years
  • Other penalties. DUI program (if required); maintain FR-44 for 3 years; substance abuse evaluation and completion of recommended treatment

3rd DUI: Felony (Prior Offense Within 10 Years)

  • Jail. 30 days to 5 years
  • Fines. $2,000 to $5,000 ($4,000 to $5,000 if aggravated)
  • License revocation. 10 years minimum (if two priors within 10 years, 10 years suspension)
  • Vehicle impoundment. 10 days to 90 days (if third DUI within 5 years)
  • Ignition interlock device. 2 years
  • Other penalties. DUI program (if required); maintain FR-44 for 3 years; substance abuse evaluation and completion of recommended treatment

Still Need Help With Your DUI Case? Speak With An Expert Today

Ready to speak with an expert who can help you with your DUI? Florida courts are strict so enlist a professional today who can better help defend your case.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Want to read more about how to handle your DUI case? Learn more from our Jalopnik Legal Team:

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