Any criminal charges related to impaired driving in Florida can derail your educational plans and cause major hiccups in your professional development as you deal with court and the criminal consequences.
However, there are certain circumstances in which individuals will face increased penalties for impaired driving charges. Florida refers to impaired driving as driving under the influence (DUI). Under the Florida criminal code, any driver who appears visibly impaired or who performs a chemical breath test that indicates a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher could find themselves facing DUI charges.
In specific situations, the penalties that an individual faces will be higher than the standard penalties for a first-time DUI offense. Although Florida doesn’t specifically have aggravated DUI charges like some other states, there are increased penalties for specific circumstances.
Repeat offenses increase the potential penalties
As with many kinds of criminal charges, the penalties that a defendant faces for impaired driving allegations will increase with the number of previous offenses on their criminal record. The state of Florida will look back at your criminal record for 10 years to determine how to charge you.
While a first-offense carries a fine of between $500 and $1,000 and up to six months in jail, second offenses can involve fines of between $1,000 and $2,000 and up to nine months in jail. A third conviction within 10 years of the second conviction will result in between $2,000 and $5,000 in fines and at least 30 days in jail. Fourth convictions can carry up to five years in prison.
Very high BACs can lead to increased penalties
If chemical tests indicate that you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or higher, which is roughly twice the legal limit, you will face additional penalties. A first offense will carry a fine of between $1,000 and $2,000 and up to nine months in jail. All subsequent offenses also carry increased penalties.
Other circumstances may lead to increased penalties. In addition to a criminal record or extreme intoxication, there are factors that can leave you at risk for greater punishment and potential felony DUI charges.
If there are minors present in the vehicle at the time of your arrest or citation, the law allows for harsher sentencing, including increased fines and jail time. Even if you are a minor yourself, driving while under the influence with people under 18 in your vehicle could mean significantly increased legal consequences.
If you cause a crash, even if you simply swipe someone’s mailbox, that may lead to increased penalties or felony charges. Property damage caused by an impaired driver can give rise to felony DUI charges or maximum penalties, as can any collision that causes an injury or death to someone else.