Is a DUI a Felony In Florida?

DUI Felony Charge in Florida

Like some other offense Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a crime that can be enhanced. Meaning that certain facts within an individual DUI case may make the charge more severe. For example, a first offense DUI is typically punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail or up to twelve (12) months’ probation and up to a $1,000.00 fine. However, if a person has a breath or blood alcohol level of above a .15 them the maximum penalties become enhanced to 270 days in the county jail or twelve months’ probation and up to a $2,000.00 fine. DUI’s can be enhanced based on breath or blood alcohol levels, property damage, injury if a minor is in the vehicle, and also a prior offense. Read on to learn more about the laws pertaining to driving under the influence from the experienced Florida DUI defense attorneys at Meldon Law. 

When Does a DUI Turn Into a Felony?

One way a DUI can become a felony offense is based on prior DUI convictions. There is two separate DUI offense that can lead to a felony-level DUI based on priors, a third offense within ten years, and a fourth or subsequent offense. There are two general third offense DUI offenses, a third offense outside of ten years, and a third offense within ten years. The major difference between the two is that a third offense outside of ten years is a misdemeanor charge, so the maximum penalty is 1 year in the county jail and up to a $5,000.00 fine. A third offense outside of ten years occurs with both prior convictions that are outside of ten years from the current pending DUI offense. While a third offense within ten years is a third-degree felony offense, meaning the maximum penalty is up to five (5) years in prison and up to a $5000.00 fine. A third offense within ten years also carries with it a 10-year driver’s license revocation. Another difference is that a third offense inside of ten years also requires a minimum mandatory jail sentence of thirty (30) days to be imposed. 

Also, it is important to understand that though the charge reads as third offense inside of ten years, it does not require that both prior convictions occurred during ten years. Only one prior conviction needs to be within the ten years from the pending DUI charge, the other conviction can be from eleven (11) years or twenty (20) years ago. Meaning that if a person had a prior conviction in 1999 and 2010, then is arrested and charged with DUI in 2019, that person could be charged with a felony DUI offense. A fourth offense or subsequent DUI offense is automatically a third-degree felony, which again is punishable by up to five years in prison or up to five years of probation and up to a $5,000.00 fine. Another penalty that a judge must impose on a fourth or subsequent DUI is a permanent driver’s license revocation.

There are potential defenses to a felony-level DUI just like there are defenses to a misdemeanor level DUI. Was there an illegal traffic stop, are there errors in with the breath test, can the State prove that the individual does have the prior convictions necessary for a felony-level DUI offense? 

How a Florida DUI & Criminal Defense Can Help

If you have been charged with a driving offense call the Meldon Law Firm, we have the knowledge and experience to help defend you and protect your rights. contact us at 352-373-8000 to set up a free consultation.