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What Happens When You Get a DUI in Florida?


Drinking and driving is undoubtedly a serious offense and something you should never take lightly. If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida, contact an experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer or call today: 850-433-6581

If you were arrested for a DUI there are a lot of things to consider and a lot of things that are probably going through your head.

It can be an emotional and uncertain time.

Consider seeking legal help to make sure you follow through on the process appropriately and receive the best results possible. 

What Happens When You Get a Florida DUI?

The first thing that happens when you get a DUI in Florida is that you get arrested and taken to jail. We hope you are reading this information just to be informed, but there is a good chance you may have already experienced this part of the process and can move on.

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level in Florida is .08 percent. Here are some DUI penalties that may apply, depending on the circumstances of your actions and arrest. 

License Suspension

A six-month license suspension is common for DUI cases. This is done administratively by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) for drivers arrested with a BAC over the legal limit.

Refusing to consent to BAC chemical testing violates Florida’s “implied consent” law and causes the suspension to increase to one year. The violation is not dependent on a DUI conviction.

Fines for a DUI

You may be wondering what happens when you get a DUI for the first time in Florida. Depending on the severity of your actions, the penalties may change, but a standard first-time DUI fine in Florida ranges from $500 to $1000. Fines increase if your BAC was .15 percent or higher or you had a minor passenger in the vehicle.

These factors increase the fine from $1000 to $2000. If someone suffered bodily harm because you were driving under the influence, fines can be up to $5000. 

Vehicle Impound

Drivers receiving their first DUI offense ordinarily have their vehicle immobilized or impounded for 10 full days not overlapping with time spent in jail. 

Jail Time

Spending time in jail, outside of your initial arrest, depends on the circumstances of your Florida DUI case.

There is no mandatory minimum, but there are maximums for jail time:

  • Six months for a standard DUI conviction
  • Nine months for a BAC at or exceeding .15 percent
  • Nine months for having a passenger under 18 years old in the vehicle
  • One year if the DUI included an accident involving minor injuries or property damage, and 
  • Five years if an accident involved serious bodily injury.

Depending on your case, you may not face jail time. The best way to avoid this penalty is to hire experienced legal representation to fight for the lowest possible punishment. 

Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs)

If you have heard about IIDs and are wondering what happens when you get a DUI in Florida, most first offenses do not require IIDs. If you have a BAC of .08 percent or higher, the judge may order the device for six months or more. IIDs are mandatory for situations where the diver had a BAC of over .15 percent or there was a passenger under 18 years old.

The device is basically a breathalyzer that has to be used by the driver before they can start the car. 


Probation placement is automatic for first-time DUI offenders. The combined time of probation and time spent in jail cannot be greater than one year. 

Community Service

Completing a minimum of 50 hours of community service is a condition of mandatory probation for first-time DUI offenders. 

Hardship Licenses

A hardship license may be available for drivers convicted of driving with a BAC of .08 percent or higher after a 30-day suspension. This license type allows driving to and from work, school, medical appointments, and church. 

Should You Hire a Florida DUI Lawyer?

There are a lot of potential punishments for a DUI conviction and what happens when you get a DUI in Florida could depend on the experience and skill of your legal counsel.

You need a DUI lawyer who knows what happens when you get a DUI and how to make the best case for you. That could mean arguing for a dismissal, evidence suppression, a plea bargain, or other legal options to help you fight your case.

The experienced attorneys at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon can help you determine the best strategy for your situation so you can get back to living your life. Contact us to schedule a consultation.