What You Need to Know about DUI Records in Florida – Tracing Them, Penalties & Epungement Procedures
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a significant legal issue in Florida, carrying a range of penalties from fines and community service to potential jail time and license suspension. The extent of these punishments varies based on factors such as the individual’s number of prior DUI convictions and the blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the arrest. This article aims to shed light on the complexities of DUI offenses in the state, focusing on the severity of penalties, the accessibility of DUI records, and the legal feasibility of expunging these records.
What are The Penalties
For the sake of clarity, we present penalties based on first, second and third convictions
First DUI Cecordsonviction
- Fines – For a first DUI conviction, fines range from $500 to $2,000. If the BAC was .15 or higher, or there was a minor in the vehicle, fines increase to $2,000 to $4,000.
- Community Service – Offenders must serve 50 mandatory hours of community service or pay $10 for each hour not completed.
- Jail Time – Judges have discretion, but can sentence first-time offenders to up to 6 months in jail. This increases to up to 9 months if the BAC was .15+ or a minor was present.
- Probation – The total probation and jail time cannot exceed 1 year.
- License Suspension – For a first DUI, licenses are revoked for 180 days to 1 year. Offenders can apply for a hardship license with DUI school completion.
- Fees – At reinstatement, there is a $115 admin fee and $60 reinstatement fee. After 10/1/07, proof of $100k/$300k/$50k insurance is required.
Second DUI Conviction
If the second DUI occurs within 5 years of the first, penalties include:
- Fines from $1,000 to $2,000, up to $4,000 with high BAC/minor.
- Jail time up to 9 months, up to 12 with high BAC/minor.
- License suspension for at least 6 months, up to 1 year.
- 10 day vehicle impoundment.
- Level II DUI school and treatment.
- Community service.
If the second DUI is within 5 years, penalties are more severe.
- 10+ days jail time, with 48 hours consecutive.
- License suspension for minimum 5 years, with hardship eligibility after 12 months.
- 30 day vehicle impoundment.
Third DUI Conviction
Penalties for a third DUI depend on timing.
Within 10 Years of Prior DUI
- Up to $5,000 fine and/or up to 5 years in prison.
- Minimum 30 days jail, 48 hours consecutive.
- 90+ day vehicle immobilization.
- Minimum 10 year license revocation, with hardship eligibility after 2 years.
- DUI school and supervision.
After 10+ Years Since Prior DUI
- $2,000 to $5,000 fine, up to 12 months jail.
- Higher fines if BAC .15+ or minor present.
- 2 year ignition interlock device required.
- License revocation if treatment/counseling missed.
- 12 months no driving before hardship license.
How to Find FL DUI Records
Florida DUI records are considered public information and will stay on a person’s record for 75 years. To search for and access DUI records, one option is to make a request to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The FDLE provides an online service for requesting criminal histories, including DUI records. To use this service, you would visit the FDLE’s Criminal History Record Check website and provide the full name and date of birth of the person you are interested in. There is a fee of $24 for each record requested through this process.
Another option for accessing DUI records is to check the databases of county sheriff’s offices, which sometimes provide access to records like current jail inmates and their charges. However, the extent of information and process for obtaining it can vary widely by county. Typically these databases only cover current inmates and recent arrests. For older or more comprehensive DUI records, it is often necessary to directly contact the records section of the specific sheriff’s office.
Can DUI Records Be Expunged?
In Florida, the legal system maintains a firm stance on the expungement of DUI convictions. Regardless of the offense being the first, second, or subsequent, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) becomes a permanent entry in an individual’s criminal history. This rule applies uniformly across the state, underscoring the gravity with which such offenses are regarded.
Despite this stringent approach, there exist certain circumstances under which the expungement of a DUI arrest, as opposed to a conviction, might be considered. This possibility arises in scenarios where the individual’s DUI case concludes with a dismissal, a decision to drop the charges, or a reduction of the original charges to a lesser offense, such as reckless driving. Under these specific conditions, the process to expunge the arrest record associated with the DUI can be initiated.
What Should Be Done
Initiating the expungement process for a DUI arrest in Florida involves a series of steps. The first step is to submit an expungement application to the FDLE. This application must be accompanied by a certified disposition, which can be obtained from the court or the arresting agency, and must be notarized. Once the FDLE reviews and approves the application, they issue a certificate of eligibility for expungement.
The subsequent phase involves filing a formal expungement request with the court where the initial DUI charges were brought. This filing must include the certificate of eligibility from the FDLE. Moreover, copies of the expungement application need to be provided to both the court clerk and the State Attorney’s Office. An important aspect of this process is the potential requirement to attend a court hearing. During this hearing, the applicant must present a compelling argument to the judge, articulating the reasons why the arrest record should be sealed or expunged.
How Severe Is the Phenomenon of DUI in Florida
In 2022, around 44,001 DUI citations were given out in Florida, pointing to an ongoing drunk driving problem statewide. That same year saw approximately 5,232 alcohol-impaired driving crashes, leading to over 3,052 injuries and 406 deaths. This represented a small 2% increase in alcohol-only drunk driving crashes compared to 2021.
- Florida Statutes on DUI https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2021/316.193 — This link leads to the official Florida statutes that define DUI offenses and penalties in the state. It includes the legal BAC limits, fines, license suspensions, and other sentencing details.
- Florida DMV DUI Information https://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licenses-id-cards/education-courses/dui-risk-reduction/ — The Florida DMV webpage provides information on DUI education and evaluation programs required for license reinstatement after a DUI conviction. It outlines the DUI risk reduction course procedures.
- Florida Court DUI Sentencing Chart https://www.flcourts.org/content/download/218313/file/dui_sentencing_chart.pdf — This PDF chart from the Florida court system summarizes DUI penalties including fines, prison time, license revocation, and other sanctions based on number of convictions. It serves as a reference for judges.
- Florida DUI Laws from DHSMV https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/impaired-driving/ — The Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles summarizes need-to-know DUI laws related to BAC limits, zero tolerance for underage drivers, ignition interlock requirements, and more.