Is a DUI in Florida a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

Monday, August 21, 2017

 Is a DUI in Florida a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) is a criminal offense. How a DUI is charged depends on the individual’s past record of DUI convictions.

An individual can be convicted of DUI if his or her blood alcohol level (BAL) is found to be 0.08 percent or higher while he or she is in control of a motor vehicle. For drivers under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with a BAL of 0.02 percent or higher. BAL is measured with an electronic device known as a Breathalyzer, which uses a breath sample to determine the driver’s BAL. BAL can also be determined through a blood or urine test. Refusal to provide a breath, blood, or urine sample for this purpose is an offense unto itself punishable by a driver’s license suspension.

A First Time DUI Charge is a Misdemeanor

When an individual is charged with DUI in Florida for the first time, he or she faces a misdemeanor charge. The penalties for a first time DUI conviction include:

  • Mandatory 50 hours of community service;

  • 10 days ignition interlock device on the driver’s vehicle;

  • A fine between $500 and $1,000 if the driver’s BAL was between 0.08 and 0.15 percent. If the driver’s BAL was above 0.15 percent or there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, he or she faces a fine of $1,000 to $2,000;

  • Up to one year of probation; and

  • For a BAL between 0.08 and 0.15 percent, up to six months in jail. If a minor was in the vehicle or the driver had a BAL of 0.15 percent or higher, up to nine months in jail.

Typically, second offense DUIs are charged as misdemeanors as well. The penalties for this conviction are as follows:

  • A fine between $1,000 and $2,000 if the driver’s BAL was between 0.08 and 0.15 percent. If the driver’s BAL was above 0.15 percent or there was a minor in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, he or she faces a fine of $2,000 to $4,000;

  • For a second DUI conviction within five years of the first, an ignition interlock device on the driver’s vehicle for 30 days; and

  • Up to nine months in jail or one year if the driver’s BAL was 0.15 percent or higher or there was a minor in the vehicle. For a second DUI conviction within five years of the first, the driver faces a mandatory jail term of at least 10 days.

Third and Subsequent DUI Offenses are Charged as Felonies

If an individual has two DUI convictions on his or her record in the past 10 years, if the DUI charge was the result of an accident that caused severe bodily harm to a victim, or if the driver is charged with DUI for the fourth or subsequent time regardless of how many years passed since his or her last DUI, he or she faces a felony charge. Felony convictions are punished according to the case’s circumstances and can land a driver in prison for years or saddle him or her with thousands of dollars in fines.

Draper Law Office Can Help you Defend Against your DUI Charge

Contact Draper Law Office as soon as possible after you are charged with DUI to start working on your legal defense strategy. Call us today at (866) 767-4711 to set up your free, no-obligation consultation in one of our three Central Florida offices: Kissimmee, Orlando, or St. Cloud. We can examine your case to determine the most effective DUI defense strategy for you.


8/21/2017

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