Now that we are firmly in the holiday season, and with New Years quickly approaching, it is a good time to remember that drinking and driving is a crime in our state. After all, driving is a privilege granted that can be taken away or suspended, if one is convicted of driving under the influence. Florida takes DUIs seriously, prosecuting those accused to the fullest extent allowed by law, which can include jail time, licenses suspension and fines.
Blood Alcohol Concentration limits
There are several Blood Alcohol Concentration limits here in Florida. First, the legal limit here is 0.08%, which is considered “per se” illegal impairment. For those under the age of 21 (the legal minimum age to drink), the Zero Tolerance BAC limit is 0.02%. This means that if someone is under 21, they can be arrested for a DUI, even if their BAC is below 0.08%, if it is above that 0.02% underage limit. Finally, if one is found to be driving with a 0.15% BAC or higher, they will face an Aggravated DUI charged that carries with it enhanced penalties.
What about just refusing to comply with BAC testing?
Unfortunately, like many other states, Florida is an implied consent state for BAC tests. This means that when drivers apply for their driver’s license, they give consent to BAC tests — like breath, blood or urine — to determine driver impairment. If a driver then refuses such a BAC test, then there are automatic consequences, like license suspension.
When a Hernando, Citrus, Sumter or Pasco County resident is convicted of their first DUI offense, they face a minimum license suspension of 6 months. That becomes 1 year for a second offense, and 2 years for a third offense. There are also mandatory alcohol education and treatment requirements for every offense, along with possible vehicle forfeiture. And, on a second offense, an ignition interlock device is mandatory.