When Is a DUI Charged as a Felony in Florida?

Driving while intoxicated is a very dangerous decision to make. Not only are you putting your life at risk, but the lives of all other drivers and passengers on the street. For this reason, Florida takes DUI charges very seriously and the penalties are often reflective of that.

The specific charges will depend on a variety of factors, including criminal history, level of intoxication, your cooperation, and whether or not you have injured another person or property in the process of your driving. If you are currently navigating the aftermath of a felony DUI charge, it’s imperative you work quickly and speak with a dedicated criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. With extensive knowledge of the law, our board-certified team at Fighter Law will begin to gather evidence and build an airtight defense. 

How Is a DUI Charged in Florida? 

Whether it’s alcohol or another illegal substance, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence will result in a DUI charge. In the state of Florida, you don’t actually have to be caught physically operating the car or other motorized vehicle while under the influence. As long as the arresting officer has reason to believe you intended to drive under the influence of an illegal substance, you will be charged. 

Based on a variety of factors, your DUI charge will be categorized as one of the following:

Misdemeanor DUI

For those caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol for the first time, you will likely face a first-degree misdemeanor charge. The legal blood alcohol concentration level is 0.08%, and anything over that is considered too high to operate any form of motorized vehicle. For first-degree misdemeanors, you are at risk for the following penalties:

  • Up to six months of jail time
  • Up to six months of probation 
  • Up to six months of license suspension
  • $500 fine
  • Up to 50 hours of community service
  • Mandatory participation in DUI traffic school or a Victim Impact Panel
  • Ignition Interlock Device installed

If you are arrested for a DUI again within five years of your first, you will be charged with a misdemeanor of the second degree with increased sentencing. 

Felony DUI

When the act of you driving while intoxicated leads to the death or severe injury of another, you will be charged with a third-degree felony in the state of Florida. These conditions are considered “aggravating factors,” and include manslaughter, severe injury, and death. It is important to note that if you are being charged with your third or more DUI within the first five years of your DUI arrest, it will also be considered a third-degree felony, even without any aggravating factors. 

A third-degree felony in the Sunshine State is punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Additionally, you may be ordered to pay restitution to the victims of the accident. If you experience an accident due to intoxication and leave the scene of the crime, it is considered a first-degree felony and is punishable by up to thirty years in jail and a $10,000 fine. 

Facing a Florida Felony Charge? Speak With a Dedicated Attorney at Fighter Law Today

Do not try to face your felony charges alone. Florida considers DUIs to be a wobbler offense, meaning they can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you believe you were incorrectly charged, Fighter Law is here to use every tool at our disposal to help. We will immediately get to work building an airtight defense and lessening your sentence. With decades of criminal defense experience in Florida, our attorneys have years of documented success. 

Let us help you pave the way for a brighter future today. For a free consultation, give our office a call at (407) 344-4837 or fill out our contact form.


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