Felony DUI Charges in Florida: Understanding the Circumstances that Elevate the Offense
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that poses a significant risk to public safety. In Florida, DUI charges can lead to severe penalties, including license suspension, fines, and even jail time. However, under certain circumstances, a DUI charge can be elevated to a felony offense. In this blog post, we will explain the circumstances that can escalate a DUI charge to a felony in Florida, such as causing injury or death while driving under the influence.
Standard DUI Offenses in Florida
In Florida, a standard DUI offense is typically classified as a misdemeanor. A driver can be charged with DUI if they are found to be operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. The penalties for a standard DUI conviction may include fines, license suspension, probation, DUI school, and community service.
Felony DUI Charges in Florida
Certain aggravating circumstances can elevate a DUI charge to a felony offense in Florida. Felony DUI charges are much more severe and can lead to harsher consequences, including extensive imprisonment and lifelong ramifications. Here are the circumstances that can result in felony DUI charges:
- DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury: If a person operates a vehicle under the influence and causes serious bodily injury to another individual, they can face felony DUI charges. Serious bodily injury is defined as an injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious permanent disfigurement, or results in the permanent loss or impairment of a bodily organ or function.
- DUI Manslaughter: If a person operates a vehicle under the influence and causes the death of another person, they can be charged with DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony. DUI manslaughter is a grave offense with severe penalties, including significant prison time.
Penalties for Felony DUI Offenses
The penalties for felony DUI offenses in Florida are significantly harsher than those for standard DUI charges:
- DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury: A person convicted of DUI causing serious bodily injury can face up to five years in prison, substantial fines, and an extended license suspension.
- DUI Manslaughter: For a DUI manslaughter conviction, the penalties can include up to 15 years in prison, fines, and a lengthy license revocation. In cases where the defendant left the scene of the accident, the penalties can escalate to a first-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.
Driving under the influence is a dangerous and unlawful act that jeopardizes public safety and lives. In Florida, DUI charges can be elevated to felony offenses under specific circumstances, such as causing serious bodily injury or death while driving under the influence. Felony DUI charges carry severe penalties, including substantial prison time and lifelong consequences.
It is essential to remember that everyone has the responsibility to drive responsibly and refrain from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you or someone you know is facing DUI charges in Florida, especially those that may lead to felony charges, seeking legal representation promptly is crucial. A skilled DUI defense attorney can provide valuable guidance, build a strong defense, and advocate for the best possible outcome in the case. Remember, public safety is of the utmost importance, and driving under the influence must be avoided at all costs to prevent tragic and life-altering consequences.