Alcohol is a major source of revenue and has a special place in many social rituals. However, it also creates a host of social risks, including the potential for intoxicated driving. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a criminal offense in all 50 states, although each one takes its own unique approach.
In Florida, the law is very clear. Choosing to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by any drug or while under the influence of alcohol is a crime. If alcohol affects your ability to drive or it your blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than 0.08 percent when you drive, that violates Florida law. Anyone facing criminal charges related to DUI should educate themselves about state law and the potential penalties.
Penalties for intoxicated driving depend on several factors
One of the most important factors related to what penalties and charges you face in relation to a DUI charge is your criminal history. Those who have a history of repeated alcohol driving violations will face steeper penalties and, in some cases, more serious criminal charges. Other factors can also increase the seriousness of a DUI charge, including the presence of children in the vehicle or even higher levels of alcohol in your bloodstream.
First time DUI charges without any aggravating factors can still result in serious consequences. Those who wind up convicted or who plead guilty will have to pay between $500 and $1,000 in fines. You could end up in jail for up to six months or a year of probation. You will also have to complete 50 hours of community service and will lose your license for six months.
A second DUI could carry up to nine months in jail, a year of probation, a fine of between $1,000 and $2,000 and loss of your license for six months. After that, you will have to use an ignition interlock system for at least a year. If the second DUI occurs in less than five years after the first, there are harsher penalties. There is a mandatory sentence of at least 10 days in jail. The license suspension period also increases to a full five years.
DUI charges can become felony charges in some situations
While most DUI charges are misdemeanors, there are situations in which driving with alcohol in your bloodstream could result in a felony charge. If you end up facing a third DUI charge in less than 10 years, that could result in third degree felony charges. Subsequent charges after a third could also result in felony DUI charges. If anyone got hurt or died as a result of a crash related to the DUI charges, that could also be cause for felony charges in a DUI case.