Under normal circumstances, a DUI is a misdemeanor. However, I want to discuss three situations in which a DUI becomes a felony.
If this is your 3rd DUI within 10 years of your last DUI conviction, or your 4th DUI at any point in time after your last DUI conviction, the charge becomes a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
For a 3rd DUI within 10 years, there is a mandatory 2-year installation of an ignition interlock device at the accused's expense. You may also lose your ability to drive in the State of Florida permanently.
If you are involved in a DUI where somebody is seriously injured in a traffic crash, the DUI charge becomes a felony of the third-degree, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Under Florida law, "serious bodily injury" means, "an injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ."
Finally, the most serious of the DUI offenses is DUI manslaughter. This is when somebody suspected of being under the influence of alcohol causes the death of another as a result of a traffic crash. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If you leave the scene or fail to render aid, it becomes a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Each count of DUI manslaughter carries these penalties. Therefore, if you are in a crash where you are suspected to be impaired, and 3 people die, you will face one count of DUI manslaughter for each person who died.
Additionally, if convicted of DUI manslaughter, there is a mandatory minimum prison term of 4 years.
If a police officer has probable cause to believe that a car driven by a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs has caused the death or serious bodily injury of another person, that officer may force you to submit to a blood test.
My South Florida criminal defense practice routinely represents clients charged with DUI and DUI-related issues. If your DUI is a felony DUI, then you need a DUI attorney who is familiar with the Miami and Broward court systems. I have worked here as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, and am prepared to represent you or your loved one in any of the above-mentioned matters.
If your DUI charge is a felony charge, or a charge of DUI manslaughter, call my office to schedule a consultation.