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How Florida imposes punishments for drunk driving

As a matter of policy, the state of Florida considers drunk driving to be a crime that is so serious that not only can a first conviction lead to jail time as well as fines, but further convictions can lead to a cascading series of harsher penalties.

This post provides an overview of how drunk driving punishments work.

Generally speaking, Florida's system of drunk driving penalties depends on a number of variables, including:

  • Whether this is your first offense: Penalties depend significantly on whether you are a first-time offender or if you have committed a second, third or even fourth (or beyond) drunk driving offense. For example, first-time offenders are generally subject to a community service requirement, smaller fines and shorter jail sentences. The more convictions you have, the stiffer the penalties become.
  • Your breath or blood alcohol content level: Anyone under the age of 21 is subject to a zero tolerance conviction for a BAC as low as 0.02. For those over 21, a BAC of 0.08 to 0.14 can result in fines, imprisonment and other penalties. If the BAC is 0.15 or higher, the penalties increase in severity. For example, fines may double or a longer jail term may result.
  • Additional considerations: Other factors can affect penalties, such as whether any property damage or personal injury resulted in connection with the drunk driving offense ("DUI misdemeanor"), or if you have had three DUI convictions in ten years or a fourth such conviction at any time ("DUI felony"), or if another person dies in such connection ("DUI manslaughter").

Aside from fines and jail sentences, depending on the circumstances of a drunk driving conviction a court can issue additional penalties including probation, license revocations, vehicle impoundments and ignition interlock requirements.

The full range of sentences and their variations are too extensive to cover in detail in a single post. You should take the information presented here for informational use only. If you have specific questions about Florida drunk driving penalties, a qualified legal professional may be able to answer them for you.

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