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Avoid DUI Penalties

Florida DUI Penalties and Punishments

After a DUI arrest, one of the first questions people ask is "What are the possible punishments?" The answer to this question depends on how the DUI was charged. We have counted 15 different ways a DUI can be charged in Florida.

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Florida law provides for both maximum and minimum punishments that apply after a conviction. Because the minimum mandatory penalties are so severe, most prosecutors are willing to offer those minimum punishments to avoid a trial.

The only way to avoid those minimum mandatory penalties is to fight to have the charges reduced to a non-DUI charge such as reckless driving, by getting the judge to dismiss the charges during a motion hearing, or by obtaining a "not guilty" verdict at trial.

Contact a DUI defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the possible criminal penalties, sanctions, and punishments that you are facing under the particular facts of your case for any DUI arrest in Hillsborough County, FL. We represent clients at the courthouse in Tampa and Plant City, FL. Call 813-250-0500 today.


Florida Statutory Minimum Mandatory Requirements

Florida DUI laws provide for certain minimum mandatory requirements (often called the "min / man" sanctions). These minimum mandatory provisions must be imposed by the Court in every case if the person is convicted of DUI. The only way to avoid the minimum mandatory requirements is to avoid a DUI conviction.

As you will see by visiting the links below, the minimum mandatory are more severe than most people would expect. Also keep in mind that the Court can impose a sentence that is harsher than the minimum mandatory. Many judges have their own "standard sanctions" which are slightly higher than the minimum mandatory requirements. The court can impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum penalty allowed by the statute. 

The information provided here about possible punishments is a general overview of Florida's DUI laws. For specific information about your particular facts and circumstances, contact a Tampa DUI Attorney at the Sammis Law Firm in Hillsborough County, FL.


Different Types of DUI Offenses under Florida Law

Besides the enhanced penalties for a second or subsequent DUI conviction, DUI cases can also be classified according to the damages caused by the driver being under the influence such as DUI with Property Damage

Other offenses can be punished more severely because a minor child is in the vehicle when the driver is DUI or because the driver had a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC over .15).

Drivers who are under the under the age 21 when the DUI offense occurs also face enhanced penalties under Florida's zero tolerance policy that sets a breath and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.02 for purposes of the administrative suspension.

Individuals who drive commercial motor vehicles or who possess a CDL can also suffer additional administrative penalties.


Penalties are also enhanced for felony DUI offenses such as:


Jail Time or Imprisonment

Under Florida law, the Court may allow the time an individual spends in a residential drug abuse treatment center or alcoholism program to be credited toward the term of imprisonment or jail time. Florida Statutes Section 316.193(2)(a), 2, 4(b), (6)(j).

  • First DUI Conviction:
    • Up to six (6) months.
    • The maximum statutory penalty is nine (9) months if the BAL was .15 or over or if a minor was in the vehicle.
  • Second DUI Conviction within Five (5) years:
    • Up to nine (9) months. 
    • The maximum statutory penalty is twelve (12) months if the BAL was over .15 or if a minor was in the vehicle with at least 10 days mandatory jail time or imprisonment. Forty-eight (48) hours of the confinement must be served at one time or consecutive.
  • Third DUI Conviction:
    • At least thirty (30) days of mandatory jail time or imprisonment if the third conviction was within 10 years of the second conviction.
    • If the third conviction is more than 10 years after the second conviction, then the jail or imprison term is up to 12 months.
  • Felony DUI Fourth or Subsequent Conviction:
    • Up to five (5) years or longer if provided by Florida Statute Section 775.084 as a violent / habitual offender.

DUI Fine Schedule

Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 316.193(2)(a) through (b), the following fines can be imposed after a DUI conviction.

  • First DUI Conviction:
    • Between $500 and $1,000.
    • Enhanced fines between $1,000 to $2,000 if the BAL (blood or breath alcohol level) was .15 or higher or if a minor was in the vehicle.
  • Second DUI Conviction:
    • Between $1,000 and $2,000.
    • Enhanced fines between $2,000 and $4,000 if the BAL was .15 or higher or a minor was in the vehicle.
  • Third DUI Conviction outside of 10 years:
    • Between $2,000 and $5,000. Enhanced fines of not less than $4,000 if the BAL was .15 or higher of if a minor under the age of 18 was in the vehicle at the time of the offense.
  • Fourth DUI Conviction (mandatory felony):
    • Fines cannot be less than $2,000 or more than $5,000.

Driver's License Suspension after a DUI Conviction

When you are arrested, the officer can take your driver's license if you blew over the legal limit of .08 or if you refused to submit to a chemical test. The length of this administrative suspension will vary from 6 months to 18 months depending on the number of times your license has previously been administratively suspended, and whether those prior incidents were for blowing over the legal limit or refusing to submit.

The hard suspension refers to the period of time that you are not eligible for a hardship license. The hard suspension period can vary from 30 days for a first DUI involving a breath test to 18 months if you are accused of a second refusal to submit to testing.

  • First Offense
  • If you take the breath test and blow over .08 then driver license will be suspended for six (6) months with a thirty (30) day hard suspension.
  • If you refused then your Florida driver’s license will be suspended for 12 months with a 90 day hard suspension.
  • Second Offense
  • If you took the breath test, then you will suffer a 12 month suspension with a 30 day hard suspension.
  • If you refused the test, and your first offense was after a breath test, then you will suffer a 12 month suspension with a 90 day hard suspension.
  • If you refused the test, and your first offense was after a refusal, then you will suffer a 18 month suspension with a 18 month hard suspension.
  • Third or Subsequent Offense
  • If you took the breath test then you will suffer a 12 month suspension with a 12 month hard suspension.
  • If you refused the breath test and if all prior offenses were after a breath test, then you will suffer a 12 month suspension with a 12 month hard suspension.
  • If you refused the breath test and one of the prior offenses was after a refusal, then you will suffer a 18 month suspension with a 18 month hard suspension.

Period of Probation after a DUI Conviction

After a DUI conviction in Hillsborough County, FL, the Court is required to impose a period of monthly reporting probation of not less than 6 months or more than 12 months. Once all special conditions are met, the Court can consider terminating the probation early.


Period of Vehicle Impoundment or Immobilization after a DUI Conviction

After a DUI conviction in Hillsborough County, FL, the Court is required to impose a period of vehicle impoundment or immobilization after a DUI conviction. Florida law allows the judge to waive that requirement if it can be shown that immobilizing the vehicle would present a hardship to another household or family member who needs to use the vehicle.


Attorney Fighting to Avoid DUI Penalties in Tampa, FL

Call a Tampa DUI Lawyer at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the particular facts and circumstances of your case in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida. Find out what important defenses might apply to your case.

Call 813-250-0500 to schedule a consultation today.


This article was last updated by Leslie Sammis on Friday, February 10, 2017.