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When is a DUI a felony in Florida?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Drunk Driving |

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense which can result in consequences that can range from fines and license suspension to jail time.

The severity of charges can escalate significantly if a DUI results in injury or death or becomes a repeat offense. In these cases, a DUI can be charged as a felony, carrying harsher penalties and long-term impacts.

Understanding DUI charges in Florida

Florida categorizes DUIs as misdemeanors for first and, in some cases, second offenses. Misdemeanor DUIs typically involve fines, license suspension and potentially some jail time. However, the following situations can elevate a DUI to a felony:

  • Multiple DUI offenses: A third DUI conviction within ten years of a previous DUI conviction in Florida is considered a felony. This is regardless of the severity of the prior offenses.
  • Fourth or subsequent offenses: Any DUI offense following a third DUI conviction is automatically charged as a felony in Florida, regardless of the time elapsed between offenses.
  • Serious bodily injury: If a DUI leads to serious bodily injury (defined as significant or permanent physical damage) to another person, including the driver themself, it becomes a felony.
  • DUI manslaughter: In a tragic case where a DUI results in the death of another person, the driver faces DUI manslaughter charges, a felony offense.

The penalties for a felony DUI in Florida are much more severe than those for a misdemeanor DUI. Here’s a breakdown of what someone might face:

  • Imprisonment: Felony DUIs in Florida carry potential prison sentences of up to five years.
  • Fines: Felony DUIs can lead to fines of up to $5,000.
  • License revocation: A felony DUI conviction typically results in a permanent driver’s license revocation, although there may be possibilities for restricted licenses in specific cases.
  • Long-term impacts: A felony conviction on your record can have a lasting impact on your ability to find housing, employment and even professional licenses.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and the specific charges and penalties for a DUI can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Factors such as a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level, the presence of a minor in the vehicle and any aggravating circumstances can influence the severity of the charges.

If you are facing a DUI charge in Florida, especially one that could be considered a felony, you can benefit from working with a reliable legal team. They can help you understand your rights, represent you in court and help you navigate legal processes as successfully as possible.


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