What you should know about Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Florida
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
The State of Florida imposes strict penalties on drunk drivers, which escalate with multiple convictions for DUI/DWI. In Florida, driving under the influence means operating a motor vehicle (including boats as well as cars, trucks, motorcycles and more) with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) equal to or greater than 0.08 percent. You can even be charged when the vehicle is not in motion, as long as it is operable. (This means you are not protected by “sleeping one off” in your car!) For a first DUI in Florida, penalties include:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- 50 hours of community service
- Eight hours to six months of jail time
- Vehicle impoundment for ten days
- Potentially, one year of probation
- Revocation of your driver’s license for six months
Subsequent DUI charges escalate these penalties. In addition, you may face skyrocketing auto insurance premiums and trouble at home and at work because of the loss of your driving privilege. If you are involved in an accident that kills someone, prosecutors may charge you with vehicular homicide as well.
Officers can make a DUI arrest no matter what they initially pulled you over for. When an officer pulls you over, he or she will check for a smell of alcohol and look for signs of drinking (empty alcohol containers, bloodshot eyes, swaying and more). If the officer even has the slightest suspicion, he or she may ask you to perform roadside tests. Experts consider these tests wildly inaccurate, prone to false negatives and false positives, but police agencies continue using them.
The roadside tests may include:
- The “follow the finger” test (testing eye movement)
- Asking you to put the tip of your finger to your nose
- Asking you to stand on one leg — and hold the pose
- Asking you to walk a straight line
Depending on your performance in the roadside tests, the officer may subject you to additional tests to determine your BAC. By exercising the privilege of driving in the state of Florida, you automatically consent to these chemical tests. This means if you refuse to take one, you will be arrested and your driver’s license will be suspended for six months, even if you ultimately did not test positive for intoxication. These might be one (or more) of the following:
- Blood test — The most accurate measure of BAC. The blood test is used when the officers believe the suspect is under influence of another narcotic, or they are unable to perform the other tests. Additionally, courts routinely order a blood test if there has been a car wreck.
- Breath test — The breathalyzer test is the most common blood-alcohol test and can be performed right at the roadside. A commercial machine uses the amount of alcohol it detects in your breath to give a reading of your BAC, informing the officer whether you are over the legal limit.
- Urine Test — A urine sample is most likely to be used if officers suspect you are driving under the influence of marijuana, cocaine or other drugs.