Florida DUI Laws May Change

By Topher

A big change could be in store for the DUI laws in Florida if the governor signs a new bill that recently passed the state legislature.

House Bill 971 is on Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s desk this week waiting for his signature or his veto. As the governor weighs the decision, outside groups continue to debate the merits of the law.

The question at hand is really whether HB 971 would make Floridians more safe, or whether it will simply put more intoxicated drivers on the road.

Currently, Florida law permanently revokes the licenses of drivers with four or more DUI convictions (note the word “conviction” – a DUI arrest on your record doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been convicted of the crime).

The new bill would allow these drivers to reinstate their license if they passed stringent requirements, including the installation of an ignition interlock system.

An ignition interlock system is a small device that requires a driver to blow into a handheld alcohol sensor connected to the dashboard. The sensor tests the driver’s blood alcohol level. If the driver is under the influence, the device essentially “locks” the car, and will not allow it to start.

There are other conditions for license reinstatement as well:

  • No one convicted of DUI manslaughter convicted is eligible for the program
  • There is a ten-year waiting period between the previous DUI and the reinstatement of the license
  • The driver must not have driven on a suspended or revoked license during the waiting period
  • The driver must complete a DUI program within six months of the reinstatement
  • For the first year the driver must also drive only to commute to and from work

Critics of the bill have several complaints about the changes to a law they feel currently functions well. First they object to putting multiple DUI offenders back on the road.

Another criticism of the bill is that it could potentially provide big business to the two vendors Florida has chosen to supply interlock ignition systems to the state.

Ignition interlock systems are not cheap, and the full cost must be paid by DUI offender. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle state that total costs come to almost $250 for installation and an additional monthly maintenance fee of $67.50. That’s about $1,000 for one year of service.

Some groups, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, support the proposed law. With their license already revoked, many drivers with multiple DUIs hit the roads anyway, feeling they have nothing left to lose, proponents of the law say.

The new law will provide an incentive for “good behavior” and, through the use of ignition interlock devices, keep a closer eye on drivers.

In the minds of the bill’s supporters, the close monitoring of former drunk drivers is better than not watching them at all and simply punishing them when they further break the law.

The DUI law changes are only a part of HB 971, which as a whole would impart much-needed changes to the Florida transportation system. The bill is expected to be signed into law.

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17 Responses so far

DUI violators will have to deal with the DUI laws. Whether the law has changed or not, they must pay off their charges!


I just heard this news on tv. my 4 DUI’s were over a total of over 35 years all well apart, with reasons like bad tail-light, a slow “california roll” on a right turn, and i seemed to have a smell of alcohal. Never an accident, no one has ever come even close to being hurt.This law, the thought, that i may still be able to pay my way in this world has lifted my spirits. I feal I fit any requirement that would araise. Never any bad traffic tickets, Was even a safe driver (on my drivers liecence) when i got my last DUI. Please consider this, Zero tolorence and driving is OK by me.

All 4 of my DUI’s were over 15 years ago. I have not had a drink in 12 years. I am a single father with 3 children and this law will be a godsend for us. I have been paying for things I did over 15 years ago all my life. I am one that has been driving with no license. It is either that or let the people of Florida support myself and my children. Every time i get behind the wheel I pray I make it to work and home to my kids every day without being pulled over. This law will be able to help me live the law abiding life l I have been trying to live for the last 12+ years.

I agree this would be a Godsend. my husband also has 4 DUIs from 30 years ago. Im not getting any younger and Im tired. he is a good hard working man that will do anything for anybody. he hasn’t had a drink in 12 years. thankyou God, Charlie Crist and MADD.

The Legislators, however, should be careful how they enact these laws without infringing on our constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the 4th Amendment of the US Const. Several Police officers don’t understand that notion. It seems that every state, including Michigan is heading in a direction of zero tolerence. This is readily seen with our laws for operating under the influence of Drugs. While, it is legal to drink and drive (just not intoxicated), it is likely to become illegal to drink and drive (zero tolerence).

this is my 20th year of sobriety.this bill would be a gift from god for me and my wife .it will finally put an end to the question “how long do i have to pay for my mistakes”.

Thanks DMV and Madd , I’m terribly sorry for anyones losses,but people do and can recover from addiction,fLA IS THE ONLY STATE THAT i COULD FIND THAT DOES NOT HAVE A WASHOUT PERIOD,to me that says someone is beyond recovery ,and that is just not so,I have seen people come off the street who are very productive people right now,If I can save one young kid from going down the path of addiction it’s worth everything to me,yet they make the tobbaco industry stop adds, but yet they glamorize alcohol on TV,when the prisions are full of alcohol related offences,You have to reach kids early about addiction , just say no, does not get it, I plead to a 1st offence in 2000 in KY, and wound up with a 4th dui, due to FLA,that I had noway of knowing , because KY has a 5 year washout period,personally, I fill the way FLA is they are saying a person cannot be rehibilatated which is a very,very false conception,no priors DUI’s, and you kill someone you can get a hardship after 5 years,just something not right about thaqt picture,just myn opinion, fla reads as stands lets say you got a Dui in 1969,1975,-1979, then one in 2010 thats a life time revocation , no other state comes close to these kind of harshness on DUI offenders that I have found

I think this is a good idea. I just dont know how its going to work being I have three duis over seven years ago and they still refuse me a hardship license.

Did it pass? 971

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Carolyn and I live in Pace, FL which is in Santa Rosa County. My husband is James. We just returned from an appeal hearing with the drivers’ license office here. I am writing because of the outcome of this meeting.
As of Oct. 1, 2010 there is a new law that gives those people who have lost their license due to DWI a chance to get their license back, after meeting many conditions. We made an appointment and went to the hearing. We were told that the following conditions would apply if he was approved. That we would have to have an interlock device on the car that he would have to blow into in order to crank the car, for a period of 5 years with random drug and alcohol testing. It must also have been at least 10 years since his last conviction. These things would, of course, come at a great cost to us financially.
When we were at the hearing, my husband was put under oath and asked if he still drank. His response was very honest…he does still have an occasional drink…when was the last time that you had a drink Mr. Hanson? On my birthday he replied. When was this? June this year he responded. At this point in the interview he was informed that he was denied because he had had a drink in the last FIVE years. They didn’t look at anything further.
It has been 13 YEARS since he was last convicted of DWI, with NO stops or arrest for any type of alcohol related infraction. As a result of his answer we were also informed that he would not be eligible again for at least another five years, that is assuming of course that the law does not change, again, in that time. If this law just went into effect Oct 1, 2010 then how can not having a drink in the last five years be a part of the qualifications. Is it even legal to do this? Also, as I will state again I’m sure, what does having a drink in a controlled environment (your own home) or when you have a designated driver, have to do with driving? I understand that this is not the case for every individual of course, but if they are going to have us install this device in the car and do random testing on him, and he blows or test “dirty” he is taken off the program and loses his chance to get a license back, why should not drinking ever again be a condition of this program. This should be about control of oneself and not drinking and then driving again. (Which should be based on his history and not whether he has a drink now and then?) It should have absolutely no bearing on a chance to obtain a license. This just seems wrong to me somehow. How can the State or the DMV tell you, me, or anyone for that matter that they cannot ever drink again if they want a license? Tell me I can’t use drugs, yes as that is illegal, but tell me that I can’t drink, NO, alcohol is NOT illegal and to be denied a chance to get a license back because you have an occasional drink!!!! What’s next? (If it is illegal to text and drive and I’m caught doing this repeatedly, can I be told that I can never have another cell phone?) At this point, I must refer you to the conditions I listed above. Why require all of these conditions then? If I lie to you and say that I haven’t had a drink then you will reward me with my license..!! How crazy is that, to punish honesty and reward lying. Just because someone has an occasional drink, is not, in my opinion a LEGAL reason to deny someone the chance to prove themselves, because, here I must state again, drinking is not illegal.
My husband has 4 DWI’s, as I stated, but there are probably thousands of people driving in this state with more DWI’s than this that have been able to get and maintain a license of some sort. I guess that if he had lied under oath, which is perjury, then we would not be here and I would not be writing this letter. So, where is the justice for us?
I feel somehow that this is a violation of his civil rights. Drinking is NOT illegal, however drinking and DRIVING is. The state or the DMV does NOT have the right to tell someone that they cannot drink ever again if they want to get another license. I thought the issue was drinking AND driving!!! We are very angry about this. Also, as a side note, my husband was stopped in 2000 for driving suspended and the judge at that time gave him permission to get a business permit license. We went to the DMV and they, the DMV, refused to give him this. I don’t understand how they can refuse to do what a judge in our justice system has decreed. If a judge in our justice system took his privilege away, then a judge in our justice system can give it back. I thought that our judges were the law, not the DMV.
I feel that this is a case where the punishment does not fit the crime. I am not trying to downplay the fact that he has gotten DWI’s or that he should pay for this offense, but after 13 years I think that he has EARNED the right for a chance to get his license back. I think that he has more than paid this offense. This has been a severe hardship on our family, the past 13 years with no license, and I am wondering what we can do. If I must drive him everywhere, it makes it very hard if not impossible for both of us to work and by the way do you have any idea the jobs he has not gotten because he has no DL. He committed the offense yes, but how long does he and our FAMILY have to pay. Do you not think that 13 years if more than enough of a punishment, especially when you add in the financial loss that we have endured, because of his inability to get a license? If he were going to continue to drink and drive don’t you think that he would have been caught doing just that in the past 13 years?

I am asking for any help that you can give us. Is this a violation of his civil rights? Can they really do this? Please help us and the many others that I am sure are in our shoes. I can’t or won’t believe that the only way for us is to lie under oath. (which by the way, it is too late to do…8>)) If we had known that we were expected to lie in order to obtain this license, then to be honest with you, we would have lied, as they have NO way to verify if the truth has been told about not drinking. So, why make it a condition of obtaining a license again. This makes no sense to me.
I state again, since when is being honest the wrong thing to do.

Thank You,
James and Carolyn

I’m in Mn and in the same boat
I cant agree more with everything you said
Especially the part about the lengthy time for lose of
license Its a traffic ticket all though serious still its a traffic ticket untill someone is hurt
And its not illegal to drink
After no tickets in 12 years I recieved a dwi
and it was dismissed in court but because I signed a piece of paper some 20 yrs before saying i would never Drink again as long as i LIVED I lose my dl for 6 yrs
no work permit or anything else
I of course drove wasnt about to lose my house and everything i had worked for
also everything you say about being honest is true
its either lie or be denied
i could go on on and on
but you said it very well
i copied your letter and will be using it here
They hand out 35-40k dwis a year here so people need to be aware of the foolish laws !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In THE END END IT IS COSTING TAX PAYERS TONS OF MONEY I ve been collecting unemployment for 3 yrs because i couldnt find work
due to no work permit
i coulda been paying taxes not living off them
and they were 60-70k a year jobs

What about our United States Constituion and Bill of Right? 10 years is long enough punishment. What started out as a good cause MADD has now grown into a multi million dollar corp? HMM??? Its all about money. Why not try and rehabilitate our society from Alcoholism and drug addiction which by the way is a disease. Its not a crime mostlt people who are suffering from Alcoholism. Im all for consequences and getting our citizens help. Goverment taking away our rights because of big corps… Why not address the fact that Florida is suffering from low pay no union, the lowest unemploymeny rate in the country and poverty. well that could contribute to serious emotional drama including Alcoholsim. Get over yourself we have rights as citizens too. Oh and by the way I have never had a DUI in my life.

How can someone be convicted of a DUI without a breathalizer or blood test being done? This happened in Gainesville, FL approximately 1 1/2 years ago. My ex had some butthead pull out in front of him and he could not stop and hit the vehicle on the rain slickened road. Cop shows up and the other driver says, “Oh I think I smell alcohol,” yet she did not breathalizer or had blood work done to prove DUI, but yet his lawyer told him if he took it to trial he could be facing prison time.

I just don’t get it how they the lawyer can charge like $5,000 and not even ask where the proof of the DUI. There was no alcohol in the car.

So he was wrongly convicted without evidence and now has lost his license for life for the 4th DUI that never was. the last one he has was approximately 20 years ago, before this one.

Everybody must understand the revenue that alcohol and alcohol related crimes produce for the state federal and private business communities.. such as I’ll list just a few here, Police, Jails, Fines, Automobile towing and storage, Lawyers, DUI school, Probation, Alcohol and substance abuse treatments, Doctors, Psychological counselors, Taxes, you get the idea and i could go on on.

You must ask yourself if human life we’re so valued why aren’t there more restrictions put on alcohol sales? and the answer is simple, From a business stand point you would be crazy to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

And someone mentioned it’s about the dollars and they would be absolutely RIGHT.

Good day!

Go easy on first time DUI offenders,revoke their drivers license for only one month,allow them to drive temporarily on a license that will allow them to drive only if they agree to avoid alcohol either when they are driving or are going to be driving.

Interlock device? What if the convicted driver borrows a car then gets drunk and kills someone?
IMO on your 2nd DUI there should be a felony charge and lifetime revocation of said drivers license.
I can’t believe all the bleeding hearts making poor poor pitifull me comments.
Drinking and driving causes mayhem on the road and puts innocents in danger.