Tampa Felony DUI Attorneys
What Constitutes a Felony DUI?
In Florida, the offense of driving under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, and drugs is covered under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes. It can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on various factors, such as the person's history of DUI offenses and whether anyone was injured or killed. Felony DUI charges are reserved for repeat or aggravated offenses. In general, if you have been convicted of your second DUI, you will be at risk for a felony DUI charge for the next 10 years. If you receive your third conviction during this time, you may face third-degree felony charges, and a conviction would result in harsh penalties.
You can also be at risk for felony DUI under the following circumstances:
- A fourth conviction received at any time
- DUI manslaughter or child endangerment
- Fleeing from the scene of an accident
- DUI resulting in severe property damage
- An offense causing serious injury to another
Is DUI a Criminal Offense?
Yes, DUI is considered a criminal offense in all 50 states, including Florida. DUI laws are designed to discourage and penalize drivers who operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. A DUI conviction can have serious consequences, including fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment. The severity of the penalties may vary based on factors such as the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC), prior DUI convictions, and whether the DUI resulted in property damage or bodily injury.
What States Consider DUI a Felony?
While DUI is a criminal offense across the United States, it is classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the state and specific circumstances of the case. Felony DUI charges generally result in harsher penalties and long-lasting consequences, such as mandatory imprisonment, higher fines, and a permanent criminal record.
The following states consider a DUI a felony under specific circumstances:
- Florida: A third DUI conviction within ten years, or a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction regardless of the time frame, is considered a felony. DUI resulting in serious bodily injury or death is also classified as a felony.
- Arizona: A third DUI conviction within seven years or a DUI with a passenger under 15 years old is classified as a felony.
- California: A fourth or subsequent DUI conviction or a DUI causing injury is considered a felony.
- Georgia: A fourth DUI conviction within ten years is classified as a felony.
- Illinois: A third or subsequent DUI conviction or a DUI resulting in great bodily harm or death is considered a felony.
- New York: A third DUI conviction within ten years or a DUI causing injury is classified as a felony.
- Texas: A third DUI conviction or a DUI with a passenger under 15 years old is considered a felony.
This list is not exhaustive, and the criteria for classifying a DUI as a felony can vary between states. It is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the specific DUI laws in your jurisdiction.
Penalties for a Florida Felony DUI
A third DUI, DUI with a suspended or revoked license, or DUI causing serious injury is a third-degree felony and may result in a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of up to 5 years. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony and may result in fines of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years in state prison. Leaving the scene of a DUI accident is a first-degree felony. Drivers are responsible for staying at the scene to render aid. The state harshly punishes failures to do so. A conviction may result in up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
DUI Involving Death: DUI Manslaughter
Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Every day, 28 people die in an alcohol-related crash – that’s one person every 53 minutes.” With that statistic in mind, it’s understandable why the state comes down hard on drunk and drugged drivers who take other people’s lives. DUI manslaughter, defined under § 316.193 of the Florida Statutes, is a second-degree felony, punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 or 15 years in prison.
Administrative Penalties of a Felony DUI in Florida
Whatever criminal penalties you could be facing, your driver's license could subject to immediate and lasting revocation if you're charged with a felony DUI. According to the department of Florida Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), these are quite a few mandatory sentences of license revocation for any type of felony DUI.
The possible driver's license implications of a felony DUI include:
- First felony DUI with serious bodily injury: Minimum 3 years of license revocation
- Third DUI conviction within 10 years: Minimum 10 years of license revocation (though a hardship reinstatement could be available after two years)
- Fourth DUI conviction or more: Mandatory permanent license revocation (though a hardship reinstatement could be available after five years; the timing for license revocation starts after any jail or prison sentence has been completed)
- DUI manslaughter: Mandatory permanent license revocation (a hardship reinstatement could be available after five years if this was a first-ever DUI conviction)
Driving on a Suspended License
We wanted to take a moment to discuss driving on a suspended license after a DUI. We bring this up because many Florida drivers are tempted to drive after a DUI suspension or revocation. Please be aware that even if someone is found guilty of a misdemeanor DUI, if they drive on a suspended license after a DUI or after DUI manslaughter, they are guilty of a third-degree felony.
Take Charge of Your Felony DUI Case
Regardless of the exact reason for your charges, a felony DUI is always a serious matter. Our Tampa defense attorneys understand the freedoms at stake when facing a felony charge and are committed to doing whatever it takes to defend our clients' rights. We may challenge your breathalyzer results or contest the probable cause behind your arrest. In any case, our legal team knows how to provide the unflinching representation you need. If you have been charged with drinking and driving, contact an attorney. Our Tampa law firm has successfully defended clients in more than 7,000 cases and has built a reputation for hard-hitting DUI defense.
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Felonies are serious criminal offenses that carry harsh penalties. Imprisonment is likely, and a felony DUI conviction can affect employment, educational, and housing opportunities. Put a hard-hitting defense team in your corner, and you'll have the best opportunity at a brighter future. We are standing by to see how our Tampa trial attorneys can help.
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