Driving under the influence (DUI) is operating a motor vehicle while impaired either by a controlled substance, a chemical substance or having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, 0.02 for drivers under the age of 21 and 0.04 for commercial vehicles. Florida, in particular, has heavy penalties that get harsher with the more DUI charges you get. For those who choose not to contest or plead guilty; you will be charged as a criminal defendant. In West Palm Beach, the courts impose mandatory penalties, whether you are a first time offender or fourth, with the judge at a discretion to impose other non-mandatory punishment depending on the circumstances.
What Are The Penalties of DUI in Florida?
The mandatory punishments imposed in every DUI case include fines, driver’s license suspension, car impounding, DUI classes, and much more. Other conditions that a judge can impose include incarceration for repeat offenders, community service, alternative sentencing that includes scram bracelets and ignition interlock devices. There are four categories of convictions that every DUI offender falls into:
i. First conviction
Fine of not less than $500 and not more than $2000. If there was a minor in the car during the incident or if the blood alcohol content/breath-alcohol level is .15 or higher than the minimum fine is $1000 and the maximum $2000. The driver’s license is revoked or suspended for 180 days to a year, and there is a mandatory 50 hours’ community service. The vehicle gets impounded for 10 days and if the judge sentences the DUI offender, the jail term will not exceed 6 months, but can be up to 9 months if the blood alcohol level exceeded .15.
ii. Second conviction
Fine of not less than $1000 and not more than $2000. If the alcohol level exceeds .15 or if there was a minor in the car, then the fine raises to a minimum of $2000 and a maximum of $4000. The vehicle is impounded for 30 days, and there are administrative charges for its release. If the second DUI happened less than 5 years after the first; the license revocation lasts 5 years. If it occurs 5 or more years after the first, license revocation lasts between 180 days to a year. Jail time is no more than 9 months but if there was a minor on board or the alcohol level exceeded .15 then it can go up to 12 months.
iii. Third conviction
Fines of between $2000 to $5000, if blood alcohol content exceeds .15 or if there was a minor on board, then fines start at a minimum of $4000. If the previous two DUI offenses were committed within the last 10years then the driving license gets revoked for 10 years, if the second offense was within 5 years, then license revocation lasts 5 years and if the last two offenses were not within ten years then license revocation lasts between 180 days to 12 months. There is a mandatory jail term of 30 days with the maximum being 12 months, and the vehicle gets impounded for 90 days.
iv. Fourth or subsequent conviction
The offender gets a minimum of $2000 in fines and a jail term of up to 5 years. The license is suspended for not less than 5 years, and the DUI offender has to join a DUI program.
DUI offenders are assigned probation officers that they have to show proof that the terms of the sentence have been fulfilled each month. Violation of probation terms leads to an arrest and fresh charges in court. DUI schools are mandatory for all convictions, and they involve a classroom session and referral treatment. For young drivers under the age of 21, a single DUI offense means automatic suspension for up to 6 months or a year for the second offense.