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Felony DUI Offenses

DUI attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Driving under the influence of alcohol or other unlawful substances is both dangerous and against the law. Florida is one of the strictest states when it comes to DUI offenses, with convictions leading to high-cost fines, prison sentences, suspension of driver’s license, vehicle impoundment, and an installation of an ignition interlock device.

A DUI charge can change the rest of your life, especially if it is a felony charge. For repeat offenders or those in aggravated circumstances, simple DUI charge may be enhanced to felony DUI. If a person is convicted of felony DUI, he or she will have a criminal record that could haunt them for years, even after the time has been served.

Considering the potential severity of the penalties, it is crucial to hire a skilled defense attorney who can help guide you through the legal process, ensure your rights are protected, and provide non-stop support during this challenging time.

Tallahassee Felony DUI Attorney

If you have been charged with any felony DUI offense under Florida law, contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer in Tallahassee to discuss the case and possible defenses. Pumphrey Law Firm can help you get back on your feet after devastating charges, and the attorneys can help you get the best possible result in your case. Retaining an attorney quickly after the arrest is important so all avenues of attack are preserved, including your ability to drive while your attorney fights the administrative suspension of your driver’s license.

Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free case evaluation. Pumphrey Law represents clients throughout the Second Judicial Circuit in North Florida’s Big Bend region including Jefferson County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Quincy in Gadsden County and Bristol in Liberty County.

What is a DUI offense?

When a person is accused of drinking and driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of controlled substances, they will be charged with a DUI offense. In legal terms, DUI means that a person was in actual or physical control of a vehicle while their “normal faculties” were impaired due to alcohol or drugs.

To convict a person of a DUI offense, the State must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant drove their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances; or
  • The defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.

The term “actual physical control” means that the person had the immediate ability to operate the motor vehicle. That means the accused person was physically able to operate the vehicle, even if it was never operated or even turned on at the time. Examples of a defendant in “actual physical control” include:

  • Defendant found unconscious and under the influence in the driver’s seat;
  • Defendant found outside of the vehicle, with the keys in the ignition; or
  • Defendant parked and got out of their vehicle prior to police arriving.

The State of Florida has some of the harshest penalties for DUI, even for a first-time offense.

DUI Charges in Florida

Under Florida Statute Section 316.193, an individual is considered under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances when one of the following conditions are met:  

  1. The defendant’s normal faculties are impaired;
  2. The defendant’s blood-alcohol level is 0.08 or more; or
  3. The defendant’s breath-alcohol level is 0.08 or more.

The standard provides the State with multiple avenues for proving impairment. Even if a defendant refuses to participate in a breathalyzer test, the State may prove DUI by showing the defendant’s normal faculties were impaired through things like their ability to perform field sobriety exercises and their ability to speak.

A first or second DUI offense that does not have any “aggravating factors” is charged and prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor DUI offense includes:

  • Up to a $1,000 fine
  • Up to six months in jail
  • Up to one year driver’s license suspension
  • DUI probation
  • DUI school

For a first or second DUI offense to be charged as a felony, it usually implies aggravated factors such as the impaired driver causing serious bodily injury or death to another person.

Felony DUI Charges in Florida

There are several circumstances in which a defendant would be charged with a felony DUI offense. Under Florida Statute Section 316.193, the requirements are outlined as follows:  

  1. Third DUI Offense within 10 Years – A defendant convicted of a third DUI offense within 10 years can be charged with a third-degree felony. In addition, the court shall order a mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) placement for no less than two years. A third DUI offense after 10 years from the last conviction results in a fine no between $2,000 and $5,000 with up to 12 months in prison.
  2. Fourth DUI Offense – A defendant who is convicted of a fourth DUI offense, regardless of how much time has passed since the last conviction, can be charged with a third-degree felony. However, the fine imposed for a fourth DUI offense shall be no less than $2,000.
  3. DUI resulting in Serious Bodily Injury – If the DUI offense results in the serious bodily injury of another person, the defendant can be charged with a third-degree felony.

In any DUI case where a defendant had a blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher, the defendant may be required to install an IID at their own expense upon all vehicles owned or leased by the convicted person, for at least six continuous months

Related Felony Offenses

In addition to a standard DUI offense, there are additional charges a driver can face in Florida for unlawfully operating a vehicle.

  • DUI Manslaughter – Under Florida Statute Section 316.193, a person will be charged with DUI manslaughter if the DUI offense resulted in the death of another person or unborn child. DUI manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.
  • DUI Manslaughter Involving Leaving the Scene –
    If the driver responsible for the DUI manslaughter offense knew or should have known the accident occurred and failed to give their information or render aid, they can be charged with leaving the scene. Leaving the scene of a DUI manslaughter offense is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Possible Defenses to Felony DUI

With the strict penalties that come with a felony DUI conviction, facing these charges is understandably stressful. Even if you have already been charged, it is important to remember that you have not yet been declared guilty. You can still fight the charges against you by hiring an experienced DUI attorney in Florida. 

A Tallahassee DUI defense lawyer can assist in building a strong defense for your case and fight to get your charges possibly dismissed or dropped. Some defense strategies for a felony DUI offense include:

  • Challenging officer procedures;
  • Challenging results of field sobriety exercises;
  • Lack of evidence;
  • Improper chemical testing;
  • Illegal traffic stop;
  • Failure to read Miranda rights; or

Contact a skilled attorney to discuss the details of your case and determine which defenses are applicable to you.  

Finding A Felony Driving Under the Influence Lawyer in Tallahassee

If you have been arrested for any DUI offense, it is imperative that you seek out experienced legal representation. Florida is known for having harsh penalties for DUI and if convicted, you could face expensive fines, imprisonment, or both. To fight the charges against you and earn back your freedom, you want an aggressive Florida criminal defense attorney on your side.

The DUI attorneys in Leon County at Pumphrey Law Firm have the training and experience necessary to fight these difficult cases. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave us an online message to schedule a free consultation.

Page Updated on June 15, 2023

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