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As the holidays are approaching our calendars will fill up with parties. This is a good time to remind you that of the dangers, and costs, of drinking and driving.  A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) has serious consequences. A Florida DUI conviction comes with greater civil and criminal penalties that many other states. If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher when stopped by law enforcement, you will be charged with a DUI.

In addition to having to pay substantial fines, having your license suspended and maybe spending time in jail, a conviction will also have a major impact on your ability to get auto insurance. If you are able to purchase insurance following your DUI, you will be required to have higher limits and the cost of it will double or triple.

Getting a driver’s license implies consent to BAC testing.

In Florida, the very act of getting a driver’s license means you have given consent to BAC testing if you are arrested for suspicion of DUI.  The first time you are arrested for a DUI and refuse to submit to the BAC tests, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for one year. If you are arrested a second time for a DUI and refuse to submit to testing, you will go to jail.

Florida DUI penalties for first-time offenders.

The penalties are severe even for first-time offenders.

  • A fine will be imposed ranging from $250 to $1,000 depending on the level of the BAC.
  • A minimum of 50 community service hours or an additional fine of $10 for every hour of community service that is not performed.
  • A jail sentence ranging from eight hours to nine months depending on the BAC.
  • A minimum sentence of two years in jail if someone was injured or killed.
  • Vehicle being impounded for ten days after you are released from custody.
  • A minimum of six months suspended license.
  • The penalties increase with each DUI conviction and even one conviction will stay on your record for 75 years.

Impact of a Florida DUI on your ability to get automobile insurance.

  • Financial Responsibility Law: Florida has a Financial Responsibility Law requiring automobile drivers who drive a car with a Florida state license plate to have a minimum level of car insurance. The only way to avoid this requirement is to return the license plate to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you drive without automobile insurance, you can lose your driver’s license for up to three years and your registration and license plate will be taken from you.
  • A DUI conviction will automatically increase the cost of insurance and may result in cancellation: Expect your car insurance rates to increase 200 to 300 percent following your DUI conviction. The increase will last for five years following your Florida DUI conviction. The cost is also increased because, after the DUI conviction, you are required to carry almost 10 times the amount of insurance you were required to have prior to the conviction.
  • A Florida Form-44 from your insurer is required to reinstate your license: Even the first DUI conviction will result in a suspension of your license. In order to have your license reinstated, you have to have a Form-44 from your insurance company verifying you have a higher level of insurance coverage that is required after the DUI conviction.

Since May 2012, an insurer who issues a Form-44 for reinstatement of the license cannot cancel the policy after 30 days.  Then, the policy must be in effect for six months.  As a result, most insurers are requiring advance payment of the policy before issuing the Form-44 and are no longer accepting monthly payments.