DUI in Florida: When is it a felony?
Driving under the influence of alcohol is such a common charge that many people underestimate its significance. This is a grave mistake, as a DUI charge can have serious consequences.
While most DUI charges are misdemeanor charges, there are certain circumstances in which Florida law classifies DUI as a felony.
DUI resulting in serious injury or death
If the alleged DUI incident results in an accident that causes death or serious bodily injury, you can be charged with a second or third-degree felony, even if you have no prior DUI convictions.
A third DUI offense within 10 years is a third-degree felony. A fourth offense within any time period is also a third-degree felony.
Penalties for felony DUI
A third-degree felony conviction can result in up to five years in prison, while a second-degree felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
If convicted, you will likely pay a steep fine as well. This can be up to $5,000 for a third-degree felony and up to $10,000 for a second-degree felony.
However, the actual cost of a felony DUI conviction may be much greater. The court may order you to pay restitution to injured parties or their families to cover expenses such as medical bills, property damages, lost wages, funeral expenses and ongoing care needs. A felony DUI can also result in the long-term or permanent loss of your driving privileges.
If you are facing a felony DUI charge, you must not underestimate the seriousness of the situation. It is important to contact an experienced defense attorney who can help you fight the felony charge.