The Florida Bar


December 9, 2022

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other impairing drugs is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but DUI law varies by state. For the purposes of DUI law, generally you are “impaired” if your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is appreciably affected by having consumed alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications. Motorists who are shown to have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent are assumed to be impaired. Similarly, some states assume that any amount of certain drugs in the bloodstream constitutes impairment.

A DUI arrest is always preceded by a traffic stop, whether the police officer suspects drunk driving or has stopped a motorist for an unrelated reason, such as a burned-out taillight. After a police officer has conducted a traffic stop and suspects a DUI violation, he or she will conduct one or more tests to determine whether or not the motorist is impaired. Usually the process begins with a field sobriety test, in which the officer asks the driver to perform a set of tasks that would be difficult for a drunk driver to complete. The officer then uses an instrument to measure an individual’s blood-alcohol concentration, most commonly called a breathalyzer.

In Florida, the privilege of driving a motor vehicle can be suspended, along with criminal sanctions, if you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. While you likely won’t spend time in jail for your first offense (aside from perhaps an overnight stay), the minimum jail time for a second and third offense is 10 days and 30 days, respectively. But the cost of a DUI can also include steep fines and court fees, license suspension, and other negative consequences.