DUIs in Florida may be prosecuted as either felony or as misdemeanors, depending on many factors, such as the person’s history of DUI and whether anyone was injured or killed. Generally speaking, felonies are punishable by more than one year in prison, and misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year of incarceration, plus fines and other penalties.
If you have been charged or convicted of a Florida DUI, you need experienced legal representation on your side throughout your case. The knowledgeable DUI criminal defense attorneys at Khonsari Law Group can help formulate a good legal defense against your charge and may help you obtain a dismissal of your case or a favorable plea deal with the prosecution.
Prosecuting Florida DUIs as Felonies
A Florida DUI may be prosecuted as a felony if one or more of the following exists:
- The defendant has been convicted of a third DUI within a 10-year period.
- The defendant has been convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI.
- The defendant seriously injured someone else as a result of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The defendant killed someone while operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Felony DUI Penalties
Under Florida law, the penalties for conviction of a felony DUI are extremely harsh. A third DUI sustained within 10 years—or a fourth or subsequent DUI—is a third-degree felony. Moreover, a DUI involving a serious bodily injury is also a third-degree felony. This is punishable by not more than a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.
A DUI manslaughter—or a DUI that results in the death of another person—is a second-degree felony, punishable by a fine that may not exceed $10,000, 15 years in a state prison, or both. DUI manslaughter, as well as leaving the scene of the accident (that is, failing to render assistance to the other person after a DUI accident and fleeing the scene), is a first-degree felony, punishable by not more than a $10,000 fine and as many as 30 years in prison.
Answering a Police Officer’s Questions at a DUI Traffic Stop or Sobriety Checkpoint
During a traffic stop, a driver is not required to answer a police officer’s questions or admit to breaking the law. This legal right against self-incrimination stems from the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. A police officer cannot force a driver to answer questions or speak without having an attorney present during questioning.
Contact a St. Petersburg DUI Defense Attorney Today
At Khonsari Law Group, our experienced DUI defense attorneys may help you minimize the effects of a DUI misdemeanor or felony conviction. Having representation throughout your entire criminal case is extremely critical to the outcome. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg DUI lawyer, please call us today at (727) 269-5300 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.