Is a DUI a Felony or Misdemeanor in Florida?Published: Jul 31, 2017 by Erika Valcarcel
The laws surrounding the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) can be confusing in Florida, and if you have been charged, you may be wondering whether the crime will be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. In most cases, this depends on the number of previous offenses you have had, but a DUI can also be elevated by certain circumstances, such as a person being injured or killed in an accident.
Drunk driving defense attorney Erika Valcarcel realizes that mounting a legal defense may be the furthest thing from your mind. With years of courtroom experience, she can help shoulder the burden. To find out how you can avoid spending time behind bars, call (941) 363-7900 for a free consultation.
First and Second Offense DUI
According to Section 316.193 of Florida Statutes, driving under the influence is defined as operating or being in physical control of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of above .08 percent. This charge can also be imposed upon anyone who is under the influence of illicit substances, such marijuana or heroin. A first DUI for this crime carries penalties including a fine that ranges from $500 to $1,000, up to six months in jail, and 50 hours of mandatory community service.
First and second offense DUIs are similar. They are both misdemeanors and they can both lead to life-altering consequences. However, there are many aspects of a second DUI that set it apart from a first-time conviction. For example, if you are convicted of a DUI within five years of another violation, you will have to spend at least 10 days in jail. In addition, you will have to drive with an ignition interlock for at least one year. This device makes you take a breathalyzer test every time you want to start your car.
A second DUI also comes with enhanced standard penalties. You will have to pay between $1,000 and $2,000 in fines and you may have to spend up to nine months in jail.
Third and Fourth Offense DUI
The consequences get much more serious when you move beyond multiple DUI convictions. Being found guilty of driving under the influence for a third time within 10 years of a prior conviction will result in a third-degree felony. This offense can be punished by a fine of up to $5,000, five years of probation, and a prison sentence of up to five years. In addition, the mandatory minimum incarceration period is 30 days. This crime also carries an ignition interlock requirement of no less than two years.
A fourth DUI conviction is labeled as a third-degree felony, regardless of how far separated it is from a previous conviction. While the penalty guidelines for a fourth offense are technically the same as the penalties for a third offense, the courts are less likely to be lenient. The prison sentence for this conviction may be longer than that of a third conviction. In addition, a fourth DUI carries a minimum fine of $2,000.
Contact a Florida DUI Attorney from Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Today
If you are being accused of a misdemeanor or felony DUI, do not lose hope. It may be possible to get your charges eliminated. You might also be able to get your charges reduced to “wet reckless” or another minor offense through a plea agreement. Call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900 to find out how attorney Valcarcel can help you.