Florida DUI & Underage Drinking: The Facts

Underage drinking and driving while under the influence (DUI) occurs in every state - and Florida is no exception. So, how does Florida handle the matter? Our legal expert explains…

Florida Attorney William Umansky

We recently interviewed William D. Umansky, a Florida attorney with over 15 years of experience whose practice focuses in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense, who explained how underage drunk driving is handled in Florida:

As far as underage drinking is concerned, there's an administrative suspension for persons under the age of 21 for driving with a blood alcohol level of .02 or above. Basically, Florida statues authorize police, having probable cause to believe that a car is being driven or in actual physical control of a person under the age of 21 who's impaired by alcohol, to lawfully detain that person and request them to submit to a test to determine their alcohol level.

It's interesting because the violation is neither a traffic infraction nor is it a criminal offense. However, if police don't give them the breath test in jail, they'll give them an on-scene test (a blow into a sideline pipe test) where if they blow; their first suspension under 21 is for six months. If they blow again under 21, it's one year.

If they refuse to blow into that sideline pipe, it's one year or in a second, it's 18 months and the suspension is effective immediately. If the breath or blood alcohol level is .05 or higher, the suspension will remain in effect until the person under 21 completes a substance abuse evaluation and course.

Temporary permits only valid for 10 days

Umansky says that while police officers will usually issue an underage driver a temporary permit, that permit is only valid for ten days. He continued, "You should immediately hire a lawyer [after getting arrested] because your license is immediately taken by the police officer and suspended. If you want to extend your ability to drive beyond those ten days, you need to get a temporary permit - but the only way you're going to get that is by filing for an administrative review hearing. It's definitely advisable to hire a lawyer for that because there are many legal and technical arguments that a lay person will not know; plus in some cases, the lawyer has to subpoena witnesses and the lay person may not have the ability or power to do so."

If you have a DUI issue, contact an experienced DUI attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.