Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara
Content last updated on: March 23, 2023
A third Florida DUI offense is serious and should not be taken lightly. DUI incidents can cause serious damage to yourself and others around you. If convicted of a third DUI in Florida, you may face severe penalties that may impact the rest of your life.
The O’Mara Law Group has decades of experience defending clients and arguing against DUI offenses. If you have been arrested and are facing your third DUI conviction in Florida, contact an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Our team of lawyers works closely with you to build the most robust case possible to minimize any penalties you may face.
Consequences of a Third DUI in Florida
Being pulled over for a DUI has serious consequences, especially when it is your third DUI offense in Florida. Depending on how much time has passed since your second DUI offense, the consequences for a third DUI conviction in Florida may include a mandatory fine and even jail time.
Penalties for a Third DUI Within 10 Years of a Prior Conviction
If you are convicted of a third DUI in Florida within 10 years of your last conviction, you have committed a felony of the third degree. Penalties may include:
- A prison sentence between 12 months to 5 years
- License revocation for a period between 180 days to 10 years
- A mandatory fine between $2,000 and $5,000
- Mandatory probation and community service
In addition to the penalties listed above, you are required by the court to place an ignition interlock device upon all vehicles that you own or lease including ones that another individual may jointly own. You are also required to use the ignition interlock device for a minimum of two years, and you need to cover the expense of purchasing and installing the ignition interlock device.
You may face additional penalties if you have other convictions and felony convictions besides your prior DUI convictions. If you have recently been released from prison or have a history of violent felonies, you may face further penalties or a lengthier prison sentence.
Penalties for a Third DUI Outside 10 Years of a Prior Conviction
If you are convicted of a third DUI in Florida but have not had any prior convictions within the previous 10 years, you have not committed a felony of the third degree. Penalties for a third DUI conviction in Florida include:
- Mandatory fines ranging from $2,000 and $5,000
- Potential to be sentenced to prison for no more than 12 months
Is a Third DUI in Florida a Felony?
Per Florida statute, any person found guilty of having a third DUI conviction in Florida within 10 years of their last DUI conviction has committed a felony of the third degree. If you have a third DUI conviction in Florida but your last DUI conviction occurred more than 10 years ago, your DUI conviction is not considered a felony.
In Florida, a felony is a crime that is punishable by the sentencing of a period of imprisonment or in more serious incidents, even death. Florida law breaks felonies down into five classes based on the seriousness of the crime. Any third or subsequent DUI conviction which occurs within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction is considered a felony of the third degree.
How To Get Your License Reinstated After a Third DUI Offense in Florida
When you are arrested for a DUI, you immediately lose your driver’s license and driving privileges. However, you have 10 days following your arrest to apply for a hearing with the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to challenge your driving privileges suspension and receive your licenses back. This is an important step to reinstate your driving privileges before you face trial for your DUI arrest, which can sometimes take months or years to resolve.
If you’re unable to get your driver’s license reinstated following a DMV hearing, or missed the deadline to apply for one, you can also apply for a hardship reinstatement hearing two years after your DUI conviction. If you need to drive to get to your job or place of work, you may be eligible for a hardship license. To reinstate your license through this program, you must complete DUI school and remain with the DUI supervision program during the entire revocation period. You must also use the ignition interlock device for two years, and you cannot consume any alcoholic beverage or controlled substance for 12 months before your license is reinstated.
What Is Florida’s Maximum Fine for a Third DUI?
The Florida maximum fine for a third DUI conviction, regardless of whether it is a felony, is $5,000.
Florida law imposes a mandatory fine of between $2,000 to $5,000 for third DUI convictions unless your blood alcohol level is 0.15 or higher. In this case, the minimum imposed fine is $4,000.
In addition to the mandatory fines for having a third DUI in Florida, you should also be mindful of other costs you’ll be required to pay as your case proceeds. These may include administrative fees and court costs, costs for DUI supervision and services, and driving and vehicle expenses. Depending on your case and situation, you may face additional costs of several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Is Jail Time Mandatory for a Third Offense DUI in Florida?
A mandatory jail time penalty for a third DUI offense in Florida depends on whether your DUI conviction was a felony or not. If it was a felony, where your third DUI conviction occurred less than 10 years from your previous offense, you might face a mandatory jail sentence of at least 12 months.
If your third DUI offense in Florida is not a felony or occurred more than 10 years after your last DUI conviction, you will not face any mandatory jail time. However, depending on your case, a jail sentence of no more than 12 months is still possible.
Consider consulting with a DUI lawyer to help you build your case and argue for no or as little jail time as possible.
Potential Defenses for a Third Offense DUI
There may be several defenses for a third DUI offense in Florida. These may include:
- Inaccurate test results for the breathalyzer, blood, and urine test, which makes them unreliable
- The officer who stopped you and arrested you did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle
- The sobriety test that the officer required you to take when you were pulled over was conducted improperly
- The evidence in your case was mishandled and therefore cannot be considered
- Your blood alcohol content was not over the legal limit while you were driving
It is always best to consult with a criminal defense lawyer who will work with you to evaluate your case and determine the best possible defense for you.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You
If you are facing your first, second, third, or fourth DUI offense in Florida, the O’Mara Law Group can help. We have over 35 years of trial experience in Orlando, Lakeland, and central Florida.
Our lawyers work with you to evaluate your case and determine the best path forward to get you the best possible result. While we can’t make all the consequences disappear, we can take quick action to limit the damage that can be done.
Here are some ways that retaining a criminal defense lawyer can help:
- Apply for a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest to reinstate your driving privileges.
- Determine what grounds the officers identified to have probable cause to pull you over and determine that you were driving under the influence as defined by Florida state law.
- Identify any potential issues with the field sobriety tests, breathalyzers, or other tests that may have been conducted by the arresting officer(s).
- Determine if your Constitutional rights were violated or if you were a victim of an illegal search when you were pulled over.
- Review and question the validity or reliability of all evidence against you provided by the state.
- Facilitate conversations with law enforcement members involved in your case, including the police, investigators, and the State Attorney’s office.
- Build a strong case for trial if we cannot negotiate a fair and reasonable plea deal.
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