Florida doesn’t play around when it comes to the offense of drinking and driving.  The punishment for a DUI is severe.  As defined in Florida Statute 316.193, a DUI is operating a motor vehicle while impaired with any of the following: a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, a chemical substance, or a controlled substance.  The first DUI conviction carries stiff penalties; loss of license for one year, fines, community service hours and possible jail time.  If you are convicted on a second DUI within five (5) years of the first conviction the penalties are more extreme including a mandatory 10 day jail sentence.  If a third DUI occurs within ten (10) years of the two convictions there is a mandatory 30 day jail sentence along with other sanctions.  A fourth DUI is a felony which is punishable up to five years in prison.

Sentencing schedule for DUI’s:

1st DUI:2nd DUI
0 – 180 days in jail   $250 – $500 fine 6 months to 1 year license suspension Business license after 30 days Interlock Device if court ordered Immobilization of vehicle for 10 days Community service hours10 – 270 days in jail   $500 – $1000 fine 1 year license suspension Interlock Device at least 1 year Immobilization of vehicle for 30 days Community service hours 2nd DUI within 5 years carries a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail
3rd DUI:4th DUI: (regardless date of prior convictions)
1 year in jail   $1000 – $2500 fine Business license after 1 year Interlock Device for at least 2 years Community Service Hours 3rd DUI within 10 years minimum 30 days in jail with maximum of 5 years prisonUp to 5 years prison   Minimum $1000 fine License revoked permanently No business license at any time Community Service Hours

All these penalties are based on a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or more but less than .15.  The penalties are harsher for BAC .15 or more.  Also if you refuse to submit to the breath test your license will be automatically suspended.

A DUI involving an accident with property damage or injury to another person is a 1st degree misdemeanor punishable up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $1000.

A person charged with three DUI’s within 10 years, or a fourth DUI within their lifetime, can be charged with a 3rd degree felony punishable up to 5 years in prison.  A DUI accident involving serious bodily injury to someone else is a felony and punishable up to 5 years in prison and $5000 in fines.

A DUI accident causing death is a 2nd degree felony punishable up to 15 years and $10,000 fine.  If a person leaves the scene causing death it is a 1st degree felony punishable up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

DUI Arrest

Law enforcement may suspect that a person is driving under the influence if they display certain behaviors.  These behaviors are revealed through the person’s driving and physical condition.  An officer may suspect that a person is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated if they:

  • make extremely close or wide turns
  • run traffic lights
  • stop for no reason
  • nearly colliding with another vehicle
  • are weaving between lanes

When stopping a person under the suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer will typically examine the person to see if they:

  • have an odor of alcohol on their breath
  • are slurring their words
  • have blood shot eyes
  • have a slow reaction to verbal direction

If these behaviors are evident, the officer may request that the person take an Intoxilyzer (breath), Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), or urine test.  If the person refuses to take these tests, their refusal can be used as evidence against them in court and also lead to harsher penalties if they are convicted. 

DUI Penalties

DUI convictions often result in harsh legal consequences.  If you are convicted of DUI, you may lose your license, have to spend time in jail, and/or pay large fines. 

A DUI conviction can lead to devastating legal consequences, emotional turmoil, and disappointment from the offender’s family and friends.  When a person is convicted of DUI, their life is subject to great restrictions and limitations. 

If you have been arrested for DUI in Florida, it is in your best interest to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately after your arrest.  The Law Office of Dowgul and Hatcher has handled a multitude of DUI cases for clients throughout Panama City and surrounding areas.  We have the legal knowledge and experience it takes to help you fight your DUI charges.


DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN CHALLENGE THE SUSPENSION OF YOUR LICENSE?  You must do so within 10 DAYS from the date of your arrest.  Once the proper paperwork has been filed with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles a review hearing will be set.

Contact Us Today

Don’t face your legal challenges alone. Contact The Law Office of James Dowgul, P.A. today and let our skilled criminal defense attorneys fight for your rights. We are dedicated to providing personalized attention, strategic advocacy, and achieving the best possible outcome in your case.

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