Tampa Felony DUI Defense Attorney
Drinking and driving always yields serious charges. In most cases, DUI is considered a misdemeanor; however, some instances of driving under the influence can lead to a felony charge. Our Tampa DUI defense lawyers are known for the top-quality defense they bring to every drunk driving case.
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, but it depends on a variety of factors, such as the person's history of DUIs and whether anyone was injured or killed. Generally, it is a misdemeanor, but that is not always the case. A DUI defendant can be charged with a felony.
Felony DUI is reserved for repeat or aggravated offenses. In general, if you have been convicted of your second DUI offense, you will be at risk for a felony DUI for the following 10 years. If you receive your third conviction during this time, you will receive a third-degree felony resulting in penalties such as license suspension and multiple years in prison.
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
Penalties for a Florida Felony DUI
In Florida, the penalties for a felony DUI are as follows:
- Either a third DUI conviction, 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/or 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. Drunk drivers are still responsible for staying at the scene to render aid; failure to do so is harshly punished by the state. A conviction may result in up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
DUI Involving Death is a Felony
Another felony DUI classification involves DUI manslaughter under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes. DUI manslaughter is a second degree felony, punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 or 15 years in prison, or both.
DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene is a first degree felony, punishable by not more than a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years behind bars. A person commits this offense when the driver convicted of DUI manslaughter fails to render aid after a DUI accident and flees the scene.
DUI Manslaughter Charges
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.
In Florida, when an impaired driver takes someone else’s life in a drunk or drugged driving accident, they are guilty of DUI manslaughter, a second degree felony under Section 316.193(3) of the Florida Statues, punishable by up to 15 years in prison or by a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both.
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 a lot of 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 or revoked license after a DUI with an unlawful alcohol level (0.08% or above), or after DUI manslaughter, they are guilty of a third degree felony, punishable by a fine up to $5,000, or up to 5 years in jail, or both.
The takeaway here is: Don’t drive on a suspended or revoked license after a DUI conviction! If you do, you can be charged with a felony after all.
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 help our clients fight their charges. We may challenge your breathalyzer results or contest the reasonable cause behind to 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, don't wait to get in touch with an attorney. Our Tampa DUI defense law firm, Thomas & Paulk, has defended clients in more than 7,000 cases and has built a reputation for hard-hitting DUI defense.
Call our Tampa firm to put 20+ years' collective experience to work for you! We can be reached at (813) 321-7323.
Drunk driving cases may or many not require a formal trial. We discuss what most can expect in terms of the process and duration of their DUI case.
At Thomas & Paulk, one of our primary focuses is on the defense of DUI charges. In fact, we are recognized throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier DUI defense law firms. Our team is well-versed in this area of the law and has a wide-expanse of experience in helping our clients fight against such charges.
It doesn’t matter if this is your first offense or your third, you can count on our firm to have the experience to protect your legal rights. Often, our defense starts with recounting with you how the police officer came to stop you in the first place and how he or she came to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol. If the stop was illegal, or the tests were improperly administered, we may be able to argue for the dismissal of that evidence in court, helping your chances of a dropped charge.
The important thing is that you act quickly. Criminal cases involving charges of drinking and driving are serious and they can move fast. You cannot afford to wait or ignore your charges. You need a legal professional on your side who truly understands what you're facing so that they can offer you experience counsel and sound advice. To learn more about how a lawyer like this can assist with your case, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible. Call our Tampa DUI defense attorneys at Thomas & Paulk today to schedule an initial consultation. This is a completely free, confidential appointment for you to tell us your side of the story.
If you're arrested for DUI, you only have 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing where you can fight to save your license.
A blood alcohol reading of 0.15% or more can warrant an aggravated DUI charge with harsher penalties.
Each year, Hillsborough County issues around 4,000 DUI citations. Out of these, more than 3,000 are found guilty.
Per Florida's zero-tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who tests positive for any measurable blood alcohol can be charged with DUI.