Florida’s Zero Tolerance Laws

Florida Zero Tolerance Law

Zero tolerance laws for driving under the influence (DUI) in Florida are a common topic among people who have been arrested for drunk driving, and for people who just want to understand their rights. It’s important to have clear information about this topic in either situation.

The idea of any zero tolerance law or policy is that it is universally enforced with effectively no latitude in regard to the circumstances around the case. The goal is to make potential penalties for an act so severe that it deters people from doing it.

This certainly applies to DUI laws in Florida, especially for underage drivers. That is why in addition to the already strict laws and penalties for DUI, there are particularly strong restrictions for drivers under 21.

Is Florida a zero tolerance state?

Yes, Florida is a zero tolerance state.

What is the zero tolerance law?

Zero tolerance laws in Florida make it illegal for drivers under 21 to drive with any amount of alcohol in their systems. Penalties can be very severe, with loss of license and substance abuse courses being common sentences.

The basic idea: if it’s illegal to drink alcohol when you are under 21, it should be illegal to drive with any amount of alcohol in your system. Therefore, the threshold for blood alcohol content (BAC) is very low.

Florida statute chapter 322.2616 describes the zero tolerance law for underage drivers. This law is designed to exist on top of the DUI laws and penalties in chapter 316.193, applying specifically to drivers under 21.

In summary:

  • It is illegal for a driver under 21 with a BAC higher than .02 to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle.
  • Law enforcement officers only need probable cause for any kind of alcohol consumption, not impairment, to order the driver to submit to a blood alcohol test.
  • Driving privileges will be suspended for six months on the first violation, and one year if there has been a previous suspension.
  • If blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than .05, the driver will be required to attend a substance abuse course.
  • If a driver under 21 refuses to submit to a breathalyzer, the penalty is a one-year license suspension for the first offense and 18 months for subsequent offenses.

For drivers over 21, the legal limit is .08, and although there is implied consent for field sobriety tests (FSTs) and blood alcohol testing, there still needs to be probable cause for impairment, not just alcohol consumption. So the higher standards for underage drivers in Florida truly make Florida a zero tolerance state for underage drinking and driving.

These penalties can also have long-term consequences for your employment prospects, ability to receive financial aid, insurance rates, and criminal background checks. While the laws are strict, it is important to fully understand your own legal rights if you have been the subject of any zero tolerance penalties.

How an Attorney Can Help Your Zero Tolerance DUI Case

Zero tolerance laws exist to keep the roads and young drivers safe, but law enforcement agents still have rules to follow. Despite the name, there can still be extenuating circumstances that can affect any zero tolerance case. Being arrested under zero tolerance laws does not mean you have been convicted.

An experienced attorney with a background in Florida DUI and Florida zero tolerance laws can and should review your case to ensure that law enforcement has followed the correct procedures. Drivers under 21 still have rights, and the right attorney can help ensure they are fully protected according to Florida law.

At Clark Hartpence Law, attorney Jeremy Clark was a public defender in the Sixth Judicial Circuit and fully understands zero tolerance laws and DUI laws in the state of Florida. With his and our team’s deep experience, we can respond effectively to the arguments the state of Florida typically uses in these cases and work for the best possible outcome.

Contact us today at (855) 680-4911 for your free consultation. A zero tolerance charge does not have to ruin your life. We’ll work hard to ensure you are being treated fairly.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.