DUI Penalties


The penalties you may face if convicted of a DUI include:


  • Jail or prison time
  • Vehicle seizure
  • Driver's license suspension, which will lead to transportation problems
  • Installation of an ignition interlock system on your car (for a second offense)
  • Substantial fines
  • License plate suspension
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol education classes or counseling
  • Required purchase of high risk insurance, which is very expensive
  • Probation
  • Civil liability for any bodily injury or property damage you cause
  • Limited employment opportunities, especially if your job involves driving
  • Community service
  • Difficulty renting an apartment
  • After a third conviction, which is a third degree felony, you lose your right to vote


According to Florida Statute 316.193, which explains in detail all the penalties for driving under the influence, if you are convicted of a DUI:


You will have to pay a fine of:

  • Not less than $500 or more than $1,000 for a first conviction
  • Not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000 for a second conviction


You will also be placed on probation for up to one year, and as a condition of the probation, you will have to complete 50 hours of public service or community work (if the court determines that this will be a hardship for you, the court might allow a fine of $10 for each hour of public service, or $500, instead of public service).


You will go to jail for:

  • Not more than 6 months for a first conviction
  • Not more than 9 months for a second conviction, or for a first conviction where your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeded .15 or if there was a minor in the vehicle

Driving with a BAC of more than .15 is extremely dangerous. The average BAC among fatally injured drinking drivers is .16.1 The relative risk of death for drivers in single-vehicle crashes with a high BAC is 385 times that of a zero-BAC driver and for male drivers the risk is 707 times that of a sober driver, according to estimates by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. 2 High BAC drivers tend to be male, aged 25-35, and have a history of DUI convictions and polydrug (use of two or more psychoactive drugs in combination) abuse. 3


Any person who has a blood-alcohol level or breath-alcohol level of .15 or higher, or any person who is convicted of a violation and was accompanied in the vehicle by a minor, shall be punished by a fine of:

  • Not less than $1,000 or more than $2,000 for a first conviction
  • Not less than $2,000 or more than $4,000 for a second conviction
  • Not less than $4,000 for a third or subsequent conviction

In addition, any person who has a blood-alcohol level of .15 or higher, or any person who is convicted of a violation and was accompanied in the vehicle by a minor, shall be punished by imprisonment for:

  • Not more than 9 months for a first conviction
  • Not more than 12 months for a second conviction

A defendant, in the court’s discretion, may be required to serve all or any portion of a term of imprisonment to which the defendant has been sentenced in a residential alcoholism treatment program or a residential drug abuse treatment program. Any time spent in such a program must be credited by the court toward the term of imprisonment.


After a first conviction in Florida, your license will be suspended for at least 6 months and you will have to complete a substance abuse course conducted by a DUI program as described in Florida Statute 322.292. DUI education courses must be conducted by a certified DUI instructor in a classroom using face-to-face instruction and must provide for interaction in the classroom among offenders and the instructor. Courses may not be conducted via the Internet, remote electronic technology, home study, distance learning, or any other method in which the instructor and offenders are not physically present in the same classroom.


After a second conviction in Florida, an ignition interlock device will be placed in your vehicle. An ignition interlock device is a breath-testing device that measures the vehicle operator's blood alcohol content, and will prevent operation of the vehicle if more than a minimum amount of alcohol is detected. When this punishment is used, Florida requires the DUI offender to pay costs of installation, rental, and maintenance of the ignition interlock device. Rental fees alone can cost as much as three dollars per day, so a DUI offender's expenses can add up quickly when an ignition interlock device is required. According to Florida Statute 316.1937, the ignition interlock device must be “installed in such a manner that the vehicle will not start if the operator’s blood alcohol level is in excess of .05 percent or as otherwise specified by the court.”

      According to Florida Statute 316.193 (6)(b), after a second conviction for an offense that occurs within a period of 5 years after the date of a prior conviction for DUI, the court will order imprisonment for not less than 10 days. The court will also, as a condition of probation, order the impoundment or immobilization of all vehicles owned by the defendant at the time of impoundment or immobilization, for a period of 30 days or for the unexpired term of any lease or rental agreement that expires within 30 days. The impoundment or immobilization must not occur concurrently with the incarceration of the defendant and must occur concurrently with the driver’s license revocation.

            Any person who is convicted of a third violation for an offense that occurs within 10 years after a prior conviction commits a third degree felony. Employers and landlords frequently perform background checks, and once a felony charge is discovered, denial of employment and housing will likely occur. In addition, the court shall order the mandatory placement for a period of not less than 2 years, at the convicted person’s sole expense, of an ignition interlock device on the person’s vehicle. A person who is convicted of a fourth violation also commits a third degree felony and will permanently lose his driver’s license. Voting privileges will also be lost.

DUI Manslaughter is a second degree felony, for which the penalty is up to a $10,000 fine and/or 15 years in prison. Due to recent law enforcement trends that focus on preventing DUI by penalizing offenders harshly, most district attorney offices refuse to negotiate plea bargains in DUI cases, especially if someone was injured or killed. In fact, some states have enacted laws that prohibit government attorneys from entering into plea bargains with DUI defendants. You will need the help of a competent attorney to avoid facing the maximum penalty for your conviction, especially if it is not your first offense.





1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Performance Measures. NHTSA Budget Overview FY 2007. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2007.

2. Testimony of Richard F. Healing, Member, National Transportation Safety Board before the House Judiciary Committee State of Maryland Regarding House Bill 763. February 12, 2004.

3. Hedlund, James and James Fell. Repeat Offenders and Persistent Drinking Drivers in the U.S.. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2007.


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