Is a DUI a Misdemeanor in Florida?
At the Law Office of Denise Miller, our criminal defense attorney in Stuart, Florida knows there is a lot of confusion about DUI charges, and how they impact your life immediately after an arrest, and going forward.
Partnering with a DUI attorney will allow you to understand the best legal approach to countering the charges against you, which will differ greatly depending on how your DUI is being pursued by the prosecutor’s office.
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What is Considered a Misdemeanor DUI in Florida?
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law in Florida.
However, many factors will determine whether the DUI is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Like all criminal charges, DUIs are unique to the person who has been arrested and charged for the act.
First-time-DUI offenses are charged as a misdemeanor unless there was an accident that resulted in serious injuries or death.
The next factor that determines how a person is charged is their Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC, level.
A standard DUI charge is the result of a person’s BAC registering below .15, or if he or she refused the breathalyzer altogether.
An enhanced DUI charge is the result of a person’s BAC registering above .15.
Accidents with property damage, or that occur with a passenger under the age of 18 in the vehicle, will increase the charge to a true first-degree misdemeanor.
Penalties for a first misdemeanor DUI in Florida include:
- Alcohol education classes
- Fine up to $1,000
- Up to six months in jail
- Up to one year of driver license suspension
At the Law Office of Denise Miller, our DUI attorney in Stuart will review the circumstances of your arrest to ensure your rights were not violated in the process, so together we can pursue the best outcome available for your unique needs.
Is a Second DUI Charge Considered a Felony in Florida?
A second DUI conviction, although still a misdemeanor, can be life changing, especially if it occurs within five years of the initial DUI conviction.
A second DUI within five years of the first conviction carries enhanced penalties, including:
- A five-year driver’s license suspension
- A ten-day minimum mandatory jail sentence
- Increased fines
- Ignition interlock device requirement, once the driver’s license is reinstated
A second DUI conviction outside of five years also carries enhanced penalties, although not as stringent, they include:
- Lengthy license suspension with no conditional driving permit
- Mandatory ignition interlock device requirement
For a first or second DUI to be charged as a felony, usually the impaired driver would have to cause serious bodily injury or death to another person.
When is a DUI Considered a Felony in Florida?
While a third DUI outside of ten years of the second conviction remains a misdemeanor offense, a third DUI within ten years of a second DUI conviction may be charged as a felony — and requires a 30-day minimum jail sentence and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
In addition, each of the following DUI circumstances will result in felony charges:
- Fourth DUI Offense, regardless of how long it has been since the previous conviction
- DUI involving serious bodily injury, including a passenger inside their vehicle
- DUI Manslaughter that results in the death of another human being or an unborn child
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Florida, contact our experienced criminal defense attorney in Stuart, Florida at the Law Office of Denise Miller today by calling (772) 934-6007 to discuss your case, so you can make informed decisions about how you move forward before your first court date arrives.