You are driving down I-75 and get pulled over by a Florida Highway Patrolman. You blow a 0.09 and are charged with a DUI. You may be asking yourself, “What type of punishment am I looking at?” It is a fair question and depends largely on the specific facts of your situation.
DUI – Don’t Underestimate the Impact
A DUI charge could seriously affect your life, both personally and professionally. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI or a felony DUI, any conviction will appear on your criminal record and is accessible if an employer, landlord, school, or government agency performs a background check. If you speak with a Florida DUI defense attorney, you may be able to work to get the conviction expunged from your criminal record.
Understanding the Difference Between a DUI Felony and DUI Misdemeanor
There is not a one-size-fits-all DUI statute in Florida (the actual statute governing DUI punishments is codified in Florida Code Section 316.193). There is actually an important distinction between a DUI that is considered a misdemeanor and a DUI that is considered a felony. A misdemeanor DUI conviction is when you are driving under the influence and cause property damage or personal injury to another. The punishment for a misdemeanor DUI is up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
A felony DUI is considered a more serious offense. A felony DUI charge is usually reserved for repeat offenders. In Florida, a driver may be charged with a felony DUI if they are convicted of three DUIs within 10 years. You may face a felony DUI, regardless of the timeframe, if it is your fourth conviction. In fact, a fourth DUI conviction rises to the level of a third-degree felony which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A third-degree felony can also be charged if you cause serious bodily injury while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances and cause a deadly accident, you may be charged with DUI manslaughter. This is a very serious offense with a mandatory minimum prison term of four years. The prison sentence can actually be up to 15 years and carry huge monetary fines. A DUI manslaughter conviction also carries administrative penalties which may even result in a permanent loss of your driver’s license.
DUI Defense – Do Not Give Up Hope
As you can see, being charged with a DUI (whether a misdemeanor, felony, manslaughter, etc.) can have serious, life-altering consequences. You need an experienced advocate who will fight for you and ensure your Constitutional rights are protected. Talk to the Florida DUI defense lawyers at the Skier Law Firm today. We are here to help and offer free, confidential, no-pressure consultations. Even if you are not looking to contest the charge, an attorney can assist by working with a prosecutor to try and work out a deal that may result in a lesser charge, depending on the facts of your situation.