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An in-depth breakdown of Florida’s DUI law: Part 1

When it comes to drunk driving in Florida, many motorists are not aware there are various aspects to the state’s DUI law. Not only does it encompass driving under the influence of alcohol but also of a controlled or unlawful chemical substance. Regardless of the type of chemical impairing a driver when apprehended for a DUI, penalties are dependent on the other details regarding the offense. 

Law enforcement uses several factors to determine the severity of a DUI charge. It is important for motorists to understand them. Here is a brief overview of the assessment of a DUI charge.

BAC level 

Drivers who have a BAC of 0.08 or higher, but lower than a 0.15, are legally inebriated enough to receive a DUI charge; there is no need for additional evidence to support the charge. There are several tests that law enforcement uses to determine a person’s level of intoxication, including Breathalyzer, chemical sample testing and field sobriety assessments.

A BAC reading higher than 0.15 crosses into the enhanced penalty range. A person facing an aggravated DUI charge due to an elevated BAC is subject to more severe penalties in addition to the consequences of a basic driving under the influence charge. 

Age of offender 

Not all offenders who violate the state’s DUI laws are of legal age to drink. Offenders who are under the age of 21 and have a BAC of at least 0.02 can receive a misdemeanor DUI for underage drinking. Florida has a strict zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking, and offenders risk jail time, fines and a criminal record upon conviction.

Number of offenses 

First-time offenders who operate their vehicles while under the influence generally receive less severe penalties than repeat offenders. A person who receives a first, second or third DUI charge, assuming there are no other criminal elements and the BAC is lower 0.15, must complete court-ordered alcohol education, receive treatment and face a license suspension period ranging from six months to two years. There is also the possibility of a vehicle confiscation. Ignition interlock devices are mandatory for second- and third-time offenders.

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