Can You Get a DUI from One Drink?

In the state of Florida, a person who has any alcohol in his or her body is prohibited from being in physical control of a motor vehicle.  F.S. 322.62.  The penalties for violation of this law result in being placed out of service immediately for a twenty four hour period.  If one has a blood alcohol level of .04 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or a breath-alcohol level of .04 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, he or she is exposed to additional penalties that are enumerated in F.S. 322.61.  The ramifications could result in adverse effects on one’s livelihood with restrictions on the operation of a commercial vehicle.

What Are the Possible Ramifications of a Single Drink?

A single drink can result in fulfilling the first element of proof required to prove a DUI charge.  The next element required to meet the definition of a DUI in Florida is proof that an individual was driving a motor vehicle within the state of Florida.  The last element required to prove a DUI case is that the offender’s normal faculties are impaired.  The last element may be proven by an officer’s belief that the driver was impaired and or by the smell of alcohol on his or her breath, slurred speech, difficulty standing, walking in a straight line, based on a field sobriety test.  This is a non inclusive list.

What Are the Penalties for a Conviction?

First Conviction

Under F.S. 316.93, the penalties for a first conviction are:

A fine between $500 and $1000.

Where one’s blood alcohol level equals or exceeds .15, or when minors are in the vehicle, the fine is between $1000 and $2000.

Probation up to one year or imprisonment for not more than six months, or where one’s blood alcohol levels surpasses .08 with a minor passenger, imprisonment for not more than 9 months.

License revocation for a minimum of 180 days.

12 hours of DUI School.

Second Conviction

The penalties for a second conviction are:

A fine between $1000 and $2000.

Where the blood alcohol level exceeds .15, or where a minor was a passenger in the vehicle, the fine will be between $2000 and $4000.

Community Service of 50 hours or a fine of $10 for each hour of community service substituted for with payment in lieu of completing some hours of community service

A period of (a combination of) probation and incarceration up to one year.  Jail time is not to exceeds 9 months unless the blood alcohol level is over .15.  If over .15, one can be imprisoned for up to one year.

Where one has been convicted with 5 years of their first DUI, there is a mandatory 10-day jail sentence required and at least 48 hours of which must be consecutive.  A 30 day impoundment of the vehicle will be imposed, as well.

Where the conviction occurs beyond 5 years since the first conviction, a 10 day impoundment is required.

Third Conviction

The penalty in Florida for a third conviction within 10 years of the second conviction results in a fine between $2000 and $5000.  Where the blood alcohol level is above a .15, or where a minor was in the vehicle, then the fine will not be less than $4000.

Where one has a third conviction beyond 10 years from the second offense, the fine is between $2000 and $5000.

If the first and second DUI came within 5 years of each other, a third DUI results in 5 year license revocation.  A third DUI within 10 years of your second  conviction, one’s driver’s license will be revoked for 10 years and one would not be eligible for a hardship license for the first two years.

To Reinstate One’s License

There is a required exam that one must take to be eligible for reinstatement.  There is an administrative fee, and one must show proof of liability insurance.

Fourth Conviction

A fourth offense or subsequent conviction results in a fine of at least $2000.  Where the driver’s blood alcohol level exceeds .15, or where there was a minor in the vehicle, the fine may not be less than $4000.

The judge has discretion to order community service where one is without sufficient funds to pay the fines and fees.

The offender will be placed on probation once released from incarceration.

The offender’s vehicle will be impounded during probation.

The offender must complete a certified substance abuse treatment program that is  a residential program that monitors and test for the use of alcohol and illegal substances.

An interlock device will be required to be installed in the offender’s vehicle before he or she can drive again, in addition to other requirements.

The offender’s vehicle may be immobilized for up to 90 days.

The entire statutory language may be found at F.S. 316.193(2)(a)-(b), (4)(a).

Ignition Interlock

Under Florida Law, any driver convicted of a second DUI is required to have an interlock device installed in their vehicle.  The Court has the discretion to order an interlock device after a first DUI.

Drivers Under the Age of 21

Any driver under 21 that is convicted of having a blood alcohol level over .02, automatically loses their license for six months.  Even a single drink can put someone over the .02 limit.  For licensed drivers that are 21 years of age or beyond, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08.

There Are Good Reasons Not to Drink and Drive

In short, it is impossible and extremely dangerous to drink alcohol and drive safely.  Accidents and deaths occur every day as a result of driving under the influence.  In addition, one’s insurance rates are severely impacted from one or more DUI convictions.  Therefore, one should take all possible steps to ensure that they do not find themselves needing to defend a DUI.  The average cost with legal defense, fines, and insurance costs is around $8,000.  Such makes driving under the influence economically disastrous in addition to the havoc caused to innocent lives.

How Can an Experienced Criminal Attorney Minimize the Adverse Effects of a DUI

If you have been accused of a DUI, contact an experienced criminal attorney for a consultation to find out your options and possible outcomes.  An experienced criminal attorney can help develop a strategy that could result in a reduced charge or plea agreement that is in his or her best interest.  Call the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, and speak to an experienced criminal attorney to understand your rights.  Call (904) 990-8000 for a free initial consultation today.

About the author

Neil Weinreb is a licensed Florida attorney who has been practicing in the area of criminal law for over 17 years in North Florida.  Mr. Weinreb works for the Law Office of David M. Goldman in Jacksonville, Florida.   Mr. Weinreb has worked as an adjunct professor teaching law to paralegal students at Jones College in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can contact Mr. Weinreb at the Law Office of David M. Goldman for a free initial consultation.  Mr. Weinreb has received the highest rating from Martindale Hubbell, AV Preeminent 2021.


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