If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, you may be wondering if the charge against you is a misdemeanor or a felony. In Florida, a DUI is considered a “wobbler offense” because it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the unique circumstances surrounding the case. First-time offenders are typically charged with a misdemeanor. However, there are several aggravating factors that could potentially raise the charge to the felony level.
After being arrested for a DUI in Florida, it is essential to remember that you do not have to fight your charges alone. A seasoned DUI defense attorney can help you understand the severity of the charges you are up against, as well as your legal rights and options. Your attorney will also conduct a full investigation into your case in order to craft the best possible defense for your unique situation.
When Is a DUI Classified as a Felony in Florida?
If you have been charged with your first DUI and no one was bodily harmed, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor. The penalties for a first offense misdemeanor include a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. The penalties can increase with a second offense. However, it will likely still be charged as a misdemeanor. Three major aggravating factors can raise any DUI to a felony, which carries harsher penalties and long-term consequences on your life. These factors include:
If you have been charged with a third DUI within ten years of your last offense, the charge could be raised to a felony. If convicted, you could face up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
A fourth DUI offense is charged as a felony, regardless of how much time has passed since your third offense. If convicted, you could be charged with a third-degree felony, which is also punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and five years behind bars.
If someone suffered severe bodily harm due to the DUI, you could be charged with a third-degree felony and face the penalties above if you are convicted. Additionally, the court may order that you pay restitution for the victim’s medical expenses and recovery.
A DUI that resulted in the death of a person or unborn child is charged as a second-degree felony. Convicted individuals could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Much like when a victim is injured by a DUI, you may be ordered to pay restitution for the victim’s funeral or other final expenses.
If the driver failed to try and help the victims at the time of the accident, the charge could be raised to a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony is punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to thirty years behind bars.
Consult With an Experienced Florida DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a DUI in Florida, you need a dependable lawyer on your side. Robert H. Hanaford has 38 years of experience defending both misdemeanor and felony DUIs and achieving favorable outcomes for his clients. Attorney Hanaford understands that the stakes are high and is committed to being a tireless advocate for your rights. When you partner with him, you can rest assured that your case will be treated with the highest level of effort and care. To learn more about how Attorney Hanaford can help you, give us a call at (239) 315-9750 or complete our contact form today.