Is DUI a Felony or Misdemeanor in Florida?

Is a DUI a Felony or Misdemeanor in Florida

In Florida, a DUI conviction can have serious consequences. But the severity of those consequences depends on the specific facts of each case.

A DUI in Florida can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, and each charge has important differences and different punishments.

If you are charged with DUI, you should speak with an experienced Florida DUI attorney right away to learn about your legal options.

DUI Misdemeanors in Florida

Under Florida law, driving under the influence occurs when a person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and:

  • The person is under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, and their ability to drive the car is impaired;
  • The person has a blood-alcohol level of .08% or higher, or
  • The person has a breath-alcohol level of .08% or higher.

If a person commits one of the above acts, that person will face a DUI charge.

DUI is considered a misdemeanor offense if:

  • It is a first or second-time offense and
  • No one was injured or killed during the operation of the vehicle.

First-time DUI offenders face penalties, including:

  • A fine between $500 and $1000,
  • A possible jail sentence up to 6 months, and
  • Fifty hours of mandatory community service.

Second-time offenders still face only misdemeanor charges so long as no one was injured. However, second-time offenders face somewhat harsher penalties. These penalties include a fine between $1,000 and $2,000 and up to 9 months in jail.

Further, second-time offenders must have an ignition interlock device installed on their car for at least one year.

Can I Face Jail Time for a First-Time DUI Conviction?

Whether a first-time DUI offender will face jail time depends on the circumstances of the case. Typically, if the offender did not cause property damage and did not injure anyone, he or she will not face jail time.

However, if the offender had an unusually high BAC, he or she may face jail time in addition to a fine. If a first-time offender causes bodily injury, he or she will face felony charges and jail time. 

Is a DUI a Felony in Florida?

Florida law imposes felony charges for certain types of DUI offenses. If an offender is charged with a third DUI offense within ten years of a prior conviction, he or she will face felony charges. If the third offense did not cause property damage or bodily injury, the offender would face:

  • Third-degree felony charges,
  • A mandatory ignition interlock device for no less than two years,
  • A prison sentence of up to 5 years, and
  • A fine of up to $5,000.

A fourth DUI offense automatically carries a third-degree felony charge, regardless of when it occurs relative to prior convictions.

A fourth conviction also carries a minimum fine of $2,000 and the same penalties as a third-degree felony offense.

A DUI Resulting in Bodily Injury

If someone commits DUI and causes bodily injury, the offender will face a third-degree felony charge, even for a first-time offense. If an intoxicated driver causes another person's death, he or she will face a felony manslaughter charge.

Manslaughter is a second-degree felony that carries extremely severe penalties, including a significant prison term and hefty fines.

Should I Hire an Attorney?

DUI charges carry serious and potentially long-term consequences. If you have been charged with DUI, you should contact a qualified criminal defense attorney to help you weigh your legal options.

The attorneys at Skubak & Rivas, P.A. have 25 years of experience successfully defending our clients' interests. We will fight diligently to protect your legal rights and give you the support you need along the way.

We offer free consultations, and we can help explain your legal options and how to proceed with your case. Call our offices at 407-598-8413 or fill out an online form today.

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