DUI and Criminal Driving Offenses

Two Separate Agencies: Law Enforcement and Motor Vehicles

In Florida, there are TWO components to a DUI case: the first is an administrative component by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), which deals with the suspension or revocation of the defendant’s license. The second component is the criminal complaint brought against the defendant by the county of arrest. It is recommended that you consult the services of a DUI defense attorney to help you handle both components of a DUI case.

There are two cases running in parallel, but are entirely independent. However, you can sometimes help your criminal case by actively moving forward with DUI school (required by DHSMV).

Important Deadline

If you have been charged with DUI in Florida, you have TEN (10) calendar days from the date of your arrest to file for a Formal Review Hearing with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Please do not disregard this important deadline. Call (813) 254-0254 today for more information.

Previous DUI or DWI Outside the State of Florida

The State of Florida considers any prior DUI or DWI occurring outside the state to count as a previous conviction for the purposes of determining the appropriate penalty.

For example, if you have a DUI in Texas and then receive another in Florida, then Florida considers your Florida DUI to count as your second DUI.

DUI Defense

There are several avenues of defense in a DUI case. In your defense we will examine the validity of the traffic stop, the administration of the breath test, the DUI video, including field sobriety tests (if any) and your overall appearance and recorded behavior.

Further, we look at any other biological stresses that may have had an impact on your driving pattern or field test performance. As in any case we defend, we always study all associated forms and paperwork, to ensure that they are filled out accurately, completely, and signed in the appropriate areas. There have been cases that have been reduced or dismissed because of improperly or incompletely filled-out paperwork.

DUI Penalties

The following information is intended as a general guide to possible penalties for DUI in Florida. This chart is not designed to represent the comprehensive body of statutes and case law that deal with the broad topic of DUI Law in Florida. As with any criminal charge, consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney is strongly recommended. For peace of mind, insist on a Board Certified lawyer.

Guideline: Penalties for DUI in Florida
(Penalties changed, effective July 1, 2008)

The upper limit for penalty enhancement has been reduced from 0.20% to 0.15% BAL.

Penalties may be higher for Blood Alcohol Level or Breath Alcohol Level (BAL) equal to, or in excess of 0.15%. Penalties may also be higher based on number of, and length of time between convictions.
First Conviction Blood Alcohol Level less than 0.15%:

  • A fine of not less than $500 or more than $1000
  • Incarceration up to 6 months
  • Your license will be suspended for 6 mos to 1 year.
  • You are eligible for a hardship reinstatement of your license upon the completion of DUI school and an alcohol evaluation.
  • Probation (6 mos to 1 year), including DUI school, community service (50 hrs), alcohol evaluation and treatment, and a victim impact panel.
  • Mandatory 50 hours community service, or $10 per hour buyout
  • Impoundment or immobilization of vehicle for at least 10 days
  • Ignition device (0.20% or higher, 0 – 6 mos)

Blood Alcohol Level 0.15% or higher, or minor in the vehicle:

  • A fine of not less than $1000, or more than $2000.
  • Incarceration not more than 9 months
Second Conviction within 5 years Blood Alcohol Level less than 0.15%:

  • A fine of not less than $1000 or more than $2000
  • Incarceration at least 10 days, not more than 12 months
  • Your license will be suspended for a minimum of 5 years
  • Probation for 1 year including DUI School Level II
  • Impoundment of vehicle for at least 30 days
  • Ignition device at least 1 year (.20% or higher, at least 2 years)
  • May petition for a hardship reinstatement of license after 12 months

Blood Alcohol Level 0.15% or higher, or minor in the vehicle:

  • A fine of not less than $2000, or more than $4000.
  • Incarceration not more than 12 months
Second Conviction outside 5 years
  • A fine of not less than $500
  • Incarceration of 0 to 9 months
  • Your license will be suspended for 6 months to 1 year
  • Probation for 1 year including DUI School Level II
  • Ignition device at least 1 year (.20% or higher, at least 2 years)
  • May petition for a hardship reinstatement of license after 1 year
Third Conviction within 10 years (FELONY)
  • A fine of not more than $5,000
  • Incarceration up to 5 years
  • Your license will be suspended for 10 years
  • Probation for 0 to 5 years
  • Impoundment of vehicle for 90 days
  • Ignition device for at least 2 years
  • May petition for a hardship reinstatement of license after 2 years
Third Conviction outside 10 years (Misdemeanor)
  • A fine of not less than $2000 or more than $5000
  • Incarceration of 0 days to 1 year
  • Your license will be suspended for 5 years
  • Probation for 1 year
  • Ignition device at least 2 years
  • Depending on the length of time between second and third DUIs, you may petition for a hardship reinstatement after 1 or 2 years.
Fourth and/or Subsequent Conviction Any person who is convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of this section is guilty of a Felony of the Third Degree.

  • A fine of not less than $2000
  • Up to 5 years in Florida State Prison
  • Your license is permanently revoked
  • You are not eligible for a BPO or hardship license

Hardship Reinstatement of Your License

In Florida, a hardship reinstatement of your license falls under one of two types:

Business Purposes Only (BPO)

A driving privilege restricted to business purposes only means a driving privilege that is limited to any driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church and for medical purposes.

Employment Purposes Only (EPO)

A driving privilege restricted to employment purposes only means a driving privilege that is limited to driving to and from work and any necessary on-the-job driving required by an employer or occupation. Although they sound similar, please note that the Employment Purposes Only hardship reinstatement is more restrictive than the Business Purposes Only. In addition to work, the BPO allows driving to school, your place of worship, and for medical care. The EPO does not.

DWLS – Driving While License Suspended

Driving on a suspended license is one of the more common arrests in the Tampa-St. Pete area. Usually a first offense is concluded with a fine. If your license was suspended without your knowledge (maybe you forgot to pay some tickets), it is generally charged as a lesser offense. The courts are more strict if you knew, orshould have known, your license was suspended. Under the unfortunate circumstance that you are stopped a second time on a suspended license, it is best NOT to admit that you knew you license was suspended.

Other Criminal Charges

Individuals who may have been operating a motor vehicle at the time of their arrest for drug charges may also be facing additional charges. To learn more about DUI/DWI charges, click here. If you think you may be facing criminal charges in Florida, click here. If you believe you may be facing federal criminal charges, click here. Or view our list of other practice areas below: