Florinda Santana Mejia was driving home from her niece’s birthday party when she stopped late at a red light and collided with another driver. The other driver was seriously injured and was found bleeding near his car. He was taken to the hospital. Santana Mejia and her husband, who was a passenger in the car, were also taken to a hospital for their injuries. She admitted that she had two beers and a couple of shots of tequila at the party but said she felt fine to drive. According to the Palm Beach Post, the police officers at the scene said that they could smell alcohol on her breath and said that she had bloodshot eyes. The police report did not include the results of the blood alcohol test that was performed at the hospital where Santana Mejia was taken, but she was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and seriously injuring someone.
Though generally DUI is a misdemeanor, Santana Mejia was charged with a felony DUI due to being in an accident that caused serious bodily injury. DUIs can be felonies in Florida under a few different circumstances.
Third DUI within 10 years. If someone is convicted of a third DUI within 10 years, it is a third degree felony. The penalties for a third DUI within 10 years include mandatory imprisonment for at least 30 days and up to five years and/or a fine of up to $5,000. There is also a minimum 10 years’ license revocation, with a hardship reinstatement as an option after two years.
Fourth DUI anytime. If a person is convicted of a fourth DUI, no matter how much time has passed, it is a third degree felony and penalties include up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. There is also mandatory permanent driver’s license revocation.
Accident involving serious bodily injury. This is the section that Santana Mejia was charged under. If a person driving under the influence causes and accident and there is serious bodily injury, then he or she has committed a third degree felony. The penalty for violating this section is up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000, and a minimum three-year license revocation.
Vehicular Homicide and DUI Manslaughter. If the DUI accident causes the death of someone then it is a second degree felony. The penalty for this is a fine of up to $10,000, up to 15 years’ imprisonment, and license revocation for at least three years.
Leaving the scene of a DUI accident where someone died. If someone dies due to a DUI accident and the impaired driver who caused the accident leaves the scene, it is a first degree felony and a conviction can mean up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Contact Us for Help Today
If you are charged with a DUI, whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, you should contact a skilled DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to defend you against the charges. Our experienced felony DUI attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A., in West Palm Beach, Florida can assist you with this and any other criminal defense needs.