Within the state of Florida, a motorist may be charged with a felony DUI when driving under the influence of alcohol. Most DUI defendants in Florida are charged with misdemeanor crimes, which are less serious than felony offenses. Sometimes, however, a defendant is a repeat DUI offender or other exacerbating conditions exist and the defendant will be tried not for a misdemeanor crime, but for a felony offense.
Florida Statute 316.193 explains circumstances under which a defendant may be charged with felony DUI. When a defendant is convicted of a third DUI within 10 years of the prior drunk driving conviction(s), the defendant will be charged with a third degree felony. A defendant who is convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of drunk driving laws also commits a third degree felony, regardless of the length of time that has passed between prior offenses.
Defendants who cause auto accidents while driving drunk could also face felony charges, with the severity of charges depending upon accident consequences. If a drunk driver causes a deadly crash, he will generally be charged with a second degree felony for DUI manslaughter. However, if a motorist caused a deadly accident, knew of the crash, and failed to render aid or provide contact information, the motorist may be charged with a first degree felony.
Felonies result in lengthier terms of incarceration than misdemeanors. Conviction for a third degree felony could carry with it a prison sentence of up to five years as well as a substantial fine. Conviction for a second degree felony could result in up to 15 years incarceration and conviction for a first degree felony could result in up to 30 years incarceration.
Motorists accused of felony DUI have a lot at stake. Contact an experienced Florida DUI defense lawyer to explore your options for fighting felony charges.