Criminal charges for driving while impaired can have significant consequences, even before a conviction. While many driving under the influence (DUI) charges are misdemeanors, you could be charged with a felony. That means you could be facing incarceration in prison instead of jail. If you’re facing a felony offense DUI, you need the assistance of an experienced Florida DUI lawyer.

Felony DUIs in Florida

Most DUIs are misdemeanor-level offenses. But a prosecutor may charge you with a third-degree felony in certain circumstances. You may have previous convictions, or you may have caused significant injuries to someone else.

Under Florida law, you may be charged with a felony-level DUI offense if there is evidence that you drove a vehicle while intoxicated, and:

  • You have 2 DUI convictions with one of those convictions occurring within the last 10 years.
  • You have 3 or more prior DUI convictions.
  • You caused serious bodily injury when you were driving under the influence.

It’s possible you could face even steeper charges if you cause someone’s death or kill an unborn child. Doing so will mean second-degree felony charges. You may even receive a first-degree felony charge if you flee the scene of the crash.

Penalties for Florida Felony DUIs

The state of Florida takes driving while impaired extremely seriously. You could be facing thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison, along with license suspensions and probation. Your vehicle may be impounded by the state. The higher the level of felony you are convicted of, the steeper the penalties.

For a third-degree felony conviction, you could be sentenced to:

  • Fines of $2,000-$5,000
  • Up to five years in prison, serving a mandatory minimum of 30 days
  • An ignition interlock device in your car for six months up to two years, at your expense
  • A three-year license suspension (bodily injury DUI conviction); ten-year license suspension (third DUI conviction); or permanent revocation (fourth conviction).
  • A 90-day vehicle impoundment
  • A probation period of one to five years, with monthly check-ins and mandatory DUI school attendance

For a second-degree felony conviction, such as DUI manslaughter, you could be sentenced to:

  • A mandatory minimum imprisonment of four years up to 15 years.
  • A $10,000 fine.
  • A permanent license revocation.
  • An ignition interlock device in your vehicle for two years.
  • Up to 15 years of probation.

If you are convicted of a first-degree felony, like a DUI manslaughter charge after fleeing the crash, you could face a 30-year prison sentence.

Possible Defenses Against Felony DUIs in Florida

A criminal conviction is not the only consequence you could face for a felony DUI in Florida. Even if you’ve just been charged, you may lose social standing, professional licenses, or other collateral costs. There are possible defenses you can explore with your Sarasota criminal defense lawyer.

The simplest defense you can have against any kind of DUI charge is that you simply were not drunk. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than 0.08%.

The police will need to prove they had a reasonable suspicion to pull you over before they charge you with a felony DUI. You have a strong chance of getting your charges dropped or reduced if you can show that the officer who initiated your traffic stop did not have a reason to stop you.

If the police cannot show that they had probable cause to pull you over, any impairment tests like blood or urine samples will not be admissible in court. If they conducted a field sobriety test, they were doing so under false pretenses. An experienced defense attorney can show that your stop was unlawful, and your charges should be reduced or dropped entirely.

Why You Need a Sarasota Defense Lawyer

You should not have to face a felony DUI charge on your own. Not only are you at risk of going to prison for several years and facing thousands of dollars in mines, there is a strong chance your license will be revoked. Protect your freedoms with the help of a Sarasota criminal defense attorney.

Your attorney will be able to investigate the circumstances of your arrest. They will check to see if your arrest was by the book, or if you have an opportunity to get your charges dropped without a trial. Your lawyer will be able to evaluate the state’s case against you and work on finding the best defense possible.

A prosecutor must convince a jury of your guilt beyond reasonable doubt. That means there can’t be any room for them to think you might be innocent. This burden of proof can be used to your advantage. A savvy attorney will be able to introduce doubt to the prosecutor’s arguments.

Call Erika Valcarcel for Your Felony DUI Defense

Having a good lawyer by your side at your trial can make all the difference. Attorney Erika Valcarcel’s goal is to aggressively represent the interests of her clients while providing them with clear communication, compassion, and personal attention.

Sarasota DUI attorney Erika Valcarcel has handled thousands of misdemeanor and felony cases in Florida and Sarasota criminal courts and can put this experience to work for you. With 20 years of legal experience, Erika is experienced in cross-examination and other aspects of court proceedings which can benefit your case.

Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. offers free and confidential consultations, so call her today at (941) 363-7900 if you’re facing DUI or other criminal charges in Sarasota.