Florida DUI Laws, Penalties & Damages After an Accident

DUIs in Florida

Learn all about Florida drunk driving cases and how to find the right lawyer

Driving after a few drinks might not seem like a big deal, but it doesn’t take much before you’re swerving around and crossing the line. Then it’s only a matter of time before a cop pulls you over and cites you for driving under the influence, colloquially known as a DUI. Or worse, there’s an accident. Learn about Florida's “per se” DUI, “DUBAL”, implied consent, the legal limit for BAC, and penalties for a DUI. When does zero tolerance apply? What are Florida's dram shop laws? We cover it all right here, and then show you how to hire the right attorney if you were harmed in a crash with a drunk driver.

People tend to think they are immortal. This can be especially true after a drink or two.

Florida has a slightly higher rate of alcohol-related car accidents than the national average. This is especially true of the 21-34 age range. Let’s take a look at this type of citation more closely and see how Florida in particular handles it.

What is a DUI?

A DUI means “driving under the influence.” While the requirements and acronyms vary by state, this generally means that someone is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other mind-altering intoxicants.

Using a vehicle under these conditions greatly increases the likelihood of a car accident and serious injuries because you are not in control of your bodily faculties.

Florida has a higher rate of alcohol-related car accidents than the national average Tweet this

What happens when someone is suspected of a DUI in Florida

A person can get a DUI in Florida if that individual drives or is in physical control of a vehicle and has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more – which is called a “per se” DUI or “DUBAL” (driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level). “Per se” means that authorities don’t need evidence of whether your driving ability was actually impaired as long as they have the evidence of your BAC.

Florida DUIs just need your BAC as evidence of driving impaired Tweet this

The “in physical control” part of Florida’s statute is interesting, because you can get a DUI without even leaving your parking spot. If police find a motorist in a car that isn’t even turned on, passed out with keys in hand and with a BAC of 0.08% or more, that person could theoretically be cited for a DUI.

Florida laws for drunk driving cases

Florida has “implied consent” laws that require drivers to submit to chemical testing – such as blood, breath or urine testing – when they apply for a state driver’s license. These are meant to show the amount of alcohol or drugs in their bloodstreams.

Refusing to take tests can have serious consequences if the officer’s request was within his police powers.

What happens if you refuse a breathalyzer or other test in Florida?

  • First offense: one-year license suspension
  • Second offense: 18-month license suspension if that driver’s license has already been suspended for a chemical test refusal
  • Third offense: 18-month license suspension if that driver’s license has already been suspended for a chemical test refusal

It is a misdemeanor in Florida to refuse testing if you have already had your license suspended in the past for that same reason – this is different from other states, for which it would just be a fine.

Fines for convictions and zero-tolerance laws

The legal blood alcohol limit (BAC) in Florida is 0.08%.

Penalties for drinking and driving for first offenders includes fines, increases in automotive insurance, and legal defenses – the total of all of which averages approximately $8,000. That’s a handy chunk of change for your first offense, so imagine how much it goes up after that.

Average penalties for first-time DUI offenders in Florida

  • Fine: $250-$500
  • Probation: not more than one year
  • Community service: 50 hours
  • Imprisonment: not more than six months
  • Imprisonment of BAC of 0.08% or more with a minor in the vehicle: not more than nine months
  • License revocation: minimum of 180 days
  • DUI school: 12 hours

Florida also follows what are called “Zero Tolerance” laws for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21. This means that any driver less than 21 years of age who is stopped by police and tests with a BAC of 0.02% or higher will have his or her license suspended for an automatic six months.

Interlock devices in Florida

Anyone convicted of two DUI offenses in Florida must have, as mandated by state law, an Ignition Interlock device installed on his or her vehicle. Judges also have the discretion to order these installed for first-time offenders as well, depending on how bad the situation was.

An interlock device is wired into your car and will not allow it to start until the driver blows into the device, which measures BAC. Once it determines that it is below the legal limit to drive, the vehicle will unlock.

Dram shop laws in Florida

There are certain situations in which a person goes to a bar, is served some drinks by the bartender, leaves, gets into an accident... Some states –42 and the District of Columbia, to be exact– currently have what are called “dram shop laws” (because alcohol used to be sold in units known as “drams”), which hold bartenders responsible for serving patrons who then get into accidents.

Social host liability laws in Florida

Florida Statutes section 768.125 is interesting in the fact that it does not hold an establishment, vendor, or social host liable for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron. It only holds someone responsible for serving alcohol to someone who is “habitually addicted” or a minor.

Additionally, Florida’s dram shop law does not hold social hosts liable for injuries resulting from serving people at private events, even if the host is aware that the drinker is “habitually addicted.” They would, however, be held liable for providing alcohol to minors.

Limitations on damages in Florida

The statute of limitations for a DUI victim to file a claim against a bar or other establishment is four years from the date of the accident in Florida. Then the time to file a lawsuit expires.

Filing a dram shop claim allows one to seek compensation for medical bills, wages lost because of injuries, pain and suffering, and replacement costs for damaged property. Learn about damage caps in Florida, which could impact the amount of compensation you will receive.

DUI accidents and legal options in Florida

Make sure to look for an attorney who makes you feel at ease, who puts your needs first and who devotes the necessary time to your file. Read a lot of reviews and ask people who have may have used DUI accident attorneys before.

If you need someone to help you through this difficult process, read some of the resources below and speak with some of the Enjuris-listed Florida attorneys who are well versed in this area. They will be able to assist you.

Resources to help you hire the best Florida DUI lawyer

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