When people come to our firm for high-quality DUI defense, they frequently ask us if a DUI in Florida is a misdemeanor or felony.
The answer depends on the allegations the police make against you. Therefore, we must thoroughly review their case before we can answer that important question.
At Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon, our DUI lawyers have decades of experience protecting our clients’ rights. We have the resources and the skills you can rely on.
Is DUI a Felony in Florida?
Make no mistake: any Florida DUI charge is serious. As a result, a DUI conviction could have serious implications for you now and in the future.
A misdemeanor DUI conviction is not trivial. However, a felony DUI in Florida carries even more severe consequences. That’s why it is important to ask, When is a DUI in Florida a felony?
Under Florida’s DUI law, your first DUI offense is a misdemeanor unless there are aggravating circumstances that make your case a felony.
For a first offense DUI conviction without an accident, you face up to six months in jail. However, you could get nine months if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over 0.15%.
The penalty for a second offense with no accident is still a misdemeanor. You face up to nine months in jail unless there was a minor in your car or your BAC was 0.15% or higher.
In the latter case, you could serve up to one year in jail. Additionally, you have to serve a 10-day jail sentence, during which 48 hours must be consecutive if your first DUI conviction happened within five years of your second.
Felony DUI Due to Prior Convictions
A third DUI conviction within 10 years of your second conviction is a Florida third-degree felony that carries a potential of five years in prison, with a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail. You could go to jail for one year if your last conviction is outside of 10 years.
A fourth offense or subsequent charge for DUI is also a felony in Florida. You could serve as long as five years in prison after a conviction. Under this part of Florida’s DUI law, there is no time limitation for a fourth or subsequent offense.
You should be aware that there are other consequences you could suffer because of a DUI conviction.
You will be on probation for one year, perform community service, lose your driver’s license, have your car impounded, pay thousands of dollars in fines, attend DUI school, and install an ignition interlock on your car. However, having the right lawyer could help you avoid these consequences or get your charges reduced.
When is a DUI a Felony in Florida Even If You Don’t Have a Record?
As mentioned above, sometimes a DUI charge is a felony, even if it’s your first offense.
You could face a felony DUI in Florida for charges such as:
- DUI manslaughter: second-degree felony;
- DUI serious bodily injury: third-degree felony; and
- DUI and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death: first-degree felony.
The ultimate sentence you get depends on the nature of the case, among other things.
As we’ve discussed, a third-degree felony carries up to five years in prison. However, a second-degree felony carries up to 15 years in prison. Additionally, Florida law requires you to serve at least four years for DUI manslaughter.
Leaving the scene of a deadly accident while DUI is a first-degree felony. As a result, you could spend up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
Collateral Consequences of a Florida DUI Felony Conviction
Having a criminal record can severely limit your ability to live how you want, especially if you have a felony conviction. DUI convictions stay on your record forever.
Many states, including Florida, can use them against you if you pick up charges in the future.
Additionally, a felony conviction could hamper your ability to:
- Find suitable employment;
- Possess a firearm;
- Find suitable housing; and
- Pursue educational opportunities.
Your immigration status could be in danger as well if you are not a U.S. citizen. As a result, you need to do what you can to avoid a felony conviction.
Contact Our Florida DUI Defense Lawyers Today for Help
Since 1913, Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon have fought to protect their clients’ rights in the Pensacola area. We continue to pursue justice for our clients by placing their needs first.
With our experience and reputation in the community as successful advocates, we are proud to say we have earned Martindale-Hubbell’s distinguished “AV-rating.” Only approximately 5% of U.S. law firms can claim that honor.