In the state of Florida, a DUI may be charged as a misdemeanor or it may be charged as a felony. In order for a DUI to be charged as a felony, there must be aggravating factors. This means that there must be some circumstances surrounding the offense that make it worse than a standard misdemeanor DUI.
A felony is a serious criminal charge, and when you are convicted of a felony, typically you will be sentenced to a large fine and a term of incarceration that may exceed one year. A felony on your criminal record can also seriously impact your employability and your future. Having proper legal representation when accused of an aggravated/felony DUI is essential and an experienced Fort Lauderdale DUI defense lawyer at The Ansara Law Firm can help.Aggravated/Felony DUI in Florida
In the state of Florida, repeat or habitual DUI offenders may be found guilty of aggravated/felony DUI. The past history of DUI convictions serves as the aggravating factor, making the DUI worse and elevating the criminal charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.
A DUI is a felony in the state of Florida if:
- The conviction is your third DUI conviction within ten years of your prior two convictions. In this case, you will be charged with a third degree felony.
- The conviction is your fourth or subsequent conviction. The prior convictions may have occurred at any time in your past. This is a third degree felony as well.
- You caused serious bodily injury when you were driving under the influence. This is also a third degree felony. Serious bodily injury refers to a medical condition with a substantial risk of death; or to disfigurement or impairment of a bodily organ or member.
- You killed a person or unborn child as a result of causing a car accident while driving under the influence. In this case, you will be charged with DUI manslaughter, which may be a first or a second-degree felony depending upon the circumstances.
The classification of these offenses is defined in Florida Statute 316.193. and the penalties associated with each of the felony charges are found in 775.082, s. 775.083, and/or s. 775.084. Florida Statute 316.193 also stipulates that anyone who is convicted for a fourth or subsequent DUI offense be subject to a fine of no less than $2,000.
It is important to note that there are also aggravating factors that occur in misdemeanor DUIs that can result in harsher penalties, even when those offenses do not rise to the level of felony convictions. For instance, when a person commits a first time DUI offense, he may be subject to up to six months of incarceration. However, if his BAC is above .15 or if there is a minor child in the car at the time, the high BAC or presence of the child are considered aggravating factors. Because of the aggravating factors, the fines for the first offender are doubled and the maximum time incarcerated is extended to a possible nine months.
When there are aggravating factors involved in your DUI or when you are charged with felony/aggravated DUI, it is more important than ever to get legal advice from a competent professional with experience in tough DUI cases.
If you have been charged with DUI in South Florida, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011! You can also contact us online. It only takes a minute to call, but it can make all the difference in the world.