When it comes to the rules of the road, most people have a general idea of what’s legal and what’s not. And, while some people may be able to sometimes get away with driving somewhat over the speed limit, there are certain behaviors that could result in significant fines — and even jail time. Such is the case with reckless driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But what, exactly, do each of those terms mean? And, what happens if you’re charged with either of them?
What is reckless driving in Florida?
Florida law defines reckless driving as operating a motor vehicle in a willful or careless way that places the safety of people and property in danger. The only specific example delineated in the statute is fleeing from law enforcement. However, any type of dangerous driving will fit the bill — including driving at an excessive rate of speed, tailgating the car in front of you, or driving at night with no headlights.
What are the penalties for reckless driving in Florida?
Reckless driving is a crime. It can be classified either as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances — and the penalties vary depending on such denomination.
First Offense: If a person is caught driving recklessly for the first time, they could receive a fine of up to $500, as well as possible imprisonment for up to 90 days.
For a second or subsequent offense, the possible fine increases up to $1,000, and jail time increases up to six months. These consequences apply as long as no one suffered any serious bodily injury.
On the other hand, if reckless driving resulted in serious disfigurement, impairment, or loss of any bodily function, or creates a substantial risk of death, the activity is considered to be a third-degree felony. As such, the driver faces a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
What is driving under the influence in Florida?
Florida law defines driving under the influence (DUI) as anyone who has been operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or chemical substances — to the extent that such consumption impairs the driver’s faculties. If a person is high from illicit drugs or prescription medications, it will count as a DUI. As for alcohol, a person is considered to be drunk if their blood alcohol level is 0.08 or above. How many drinks it takes to reach that level varies significantly from one person to the next. Factors that influence it include a person’s weight, height, gender, whether they’ve had food along with their drinks, how fast their metabolism is, and whether they’re taking any medications.
What are the penalties for a DUI in Florida?
Just as with reckless driving, the penalties for a DUI in Florida will depend on the circumstances. Penalties can also increase with the number of times that you’ve been convicted of a DUI.
For a First DUI Conviction in Florida
The fine could range between $500 and $1,000. In addition, the driver faces imprisonment for up to six months. This is the penalty regardless of whether you feel impaired to drive. If your BAC is 0.08 or above, you’re considered to be driving under the influence. When in doubt, use a breathalyzer prior to getting behind the wheel or call a ride-sharing service.
For a Second DUI Conviction in Florida
The fine could range between $1,000 and $2,000. In addition, the driver faces imprisonment of up to nine months. Also, a person convicted for the second time will be required to install an interlock device on their car’s ignition to prove they are not under the influence prior to driving. This device will remain in the car for a period of one year, and will be paid out-of-pocket by the convicted driver.
For a Third DUI Conviction in Florida
If a person is convicted of a DUI for the third time within 10 years, they will be charged with a third-degree felony. This type of crime is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years imprisonment. Once released from prison, the person will have to install an interlock device on their motor vehicle for two years — also paid out-of-pocket.
If the third conviction occurs after 10 years from a previous conviction, the penalty will range between $2,000 and $5,000 and up to one-year imprisonment. You’ll also still need to install an interlock device in your car for two years.
If a Person Dies in a DUI Accident in Florida
If the DUI accident results in a person dying from their injuries, the driver will be charged with DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony. The penalties for such a crime are a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in prison. If the driver leaves the scene of the accident and is later caught, they will be charged with a first-degree felony, with a fine of up to $10,000 and 30 years imprisonment.
Will your driver’s license get revoked after a DUI in Florida?
Yes, your driver’s license can get revoked after a DUI. How long the revocation period lasts will depend on the circumstances.
- 1st offense with no bodily injury: between six months to a year
- 1st offense with bodily injury: three years
- 2nd offense within five years from first one: five years revocation
- 2nd offense after five years from first one: same revocation period as a first offense
- 3rd offense within 10 years: 10 years revocation
- 3rd offense after 10 years: same revocation period as a first offense
- 4th offense, regardless of when the previous ones occurred: mandatory permanent revocation
- DUI with serious bodily injury: minimum of three years revocation
- DUI manslaughter: mandatory permanent revocation
Depending on the circumstances, a convicted person may apply for hardship exceptions to drive their cars to work and/or school after a mandatory period of several years has passed. Doing so will require filling out an application and attending a hearing.
Call Clark Law If You’re Facing Reckless Driving or DUI Charges in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident or is wondering about whether a ticket or charge can be contested, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best course of action.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.