As one of the largest states in the country, it should perhaps come as no surprise that Florida suffered from 797 drunk driving fatalities in 2015. Between 2003 and 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 8,476 Florida deaths resulted from crashes that included a drunk driver. Based purely on the number of fatalities, Florida ranks third behind Texas and California for DUI deaths nearly every year, even though Florida’s DUI incidence rates rank lower than plenty of other states.
Given the toll that DUI fatalities and accidents have taken in Florida over the years, it is reasonable to wonder how strict Florida’s DUI laws are compared to the rest of the nation. A new study from WalletHub provides some clarity on this important question.
How Strict Are Florida’s DUI Penalties?
WalletHub’s study, titled Strictest and Most Lenient States on DUI, found that Florida ranks as the 17th strictest state where DUI penalties are concerned. WalletHub arrived at their findings only after tracking sentencing ranges based on 15 key metrics, which included data pertaining to fines, minimum jail time and even the strictness of ignition interlock device requirements.
Florida’s overall rank of 17 can be delineated further by looking at how the state ranked regarding both DUI prevention and DUI criminal penalties. Where DUI prevention is concerned, Florida ranked as the 5th strictest state in the country.
Helping Florida’s prevention ranking is the fact that ignition interlock devices are mandatory after a first DUI conviction with 0.15 BAC or greater for a period of six months. Also of note, Florida car insurance premiums increase by 40 percent on average after each DUI citation, and Florida also has the following preventative measures in place:
- An administrative license suspension after arrest and prior to conviction that lasts for 180 days
- Mandatory alcohol abuse assessment after a DUI
- Sobriety checkpoints
Florida’s DUI criminal penalties, however, are 24th in the country, which places Florida right around the country’s average. One reason for Florida’s comparatively low criminal penalties ranking is that the state does not have a minimum jail time in place for a first DUI offense. Florida does require a minimum 10 days of jail time for a second offense, however, and a third offense is treated as an automatic felony.
If a Florida driver has had a past DUI, it will factor into present penalties for ten years in Florida. Keeping these penalties in mind, it is clear that driving under the influence carries serious legal consequences in Florida.
John F. Greene is a Destin DUI defense attorney with more than three decades of courtroom experience. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, contact John online or call his office (850) 424-6833 for a legal consultation to take the first step toward a strong legal defense today.