Accidents happen with regularity on Florida’s highways. In fact, 401,851 crashes killed more than 3,000 people in 2018. Unfortunately, if there is any evidence that a driver had been drinking alcoholic beverages before causing a crash, an accident that leads to an injury or fatality can lead to a severe criminal charge.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in all 50 states. The majority of first-time DUIs are classified as misdemeanor; however, this does not mean that you will get a slap on the wrist if you are convicted. Misdemeanor crimes come with the possibility of one year’s worth of jail time. In Florida, the minimum DUI conviction jail sentence is 8 hours. What can truly exacerbate your DUI is if it is considered a felony DUI. First-time DUIs that are classified as felonies are rare. There are three different conditions in which your DUI is elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.
Circumstances that May Lead to a Felony DUI Charge
Prior DUI Convictions
In Florida, any person convicted of a third DUI within a 10-year period commits a third-degree felony. So, if you have already accumulated two prior DUI’s in a period of ten years, this third DUI is a felony charge. If it is your 4th DUI, it is also considered a third-degree felony charge. A third-degree felony means that you can receive a fine of no more than $5,000 and/ or up to 5 years in prison. It is extremely important at this time to seek the guidance of a skillful Florida DUI lawyer right away.
Causing Serious Bodily Injury
Another way that you can receive a felony charge for your DUI is when your alleged impairment caused a passenger, pedestrian, or another motorist serious bodily harm. In Florida, “serious bodily injury” is defined as “an injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” Fla. Stat. § 316.1933. If another person was only minorly injured, the DUI still stands as a misdemeanor charge but may still have enhanced punishment.
DUI Manslaughter Charge
Manslaughter and vehicular homicide convictions are guaranteed to bring a misdemeanor up to a felony charge. DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide are both second-degree felonies, which means that you can be fined up to $10,000 and/or receive a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
In legal terms, manslaughter is defined as the act of killing another without intent. Vehicular homicide means that the death of a person other than the driver occurred as the result of criminally negligent operation of a motor vehicle. DUI manslaughter occurs when the criminally-negligent operation of a motor vehicle that ended another’s life is due to alcohol. The offense is defined in Florida Statute Section 316.193 and is arguably the most severe DUI crime of which a person can be accused.
Fight Your Felony DUI Charge with a Defense Lawyer in West Palm Beach
If you’re facing your third DUI in 10 years, your fourth DUI, or for any reason are charged with a felony DUI you need to contact a highly qualified DUI attorney in Florida urgently. At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, we excel in fighting DUI charges in West Palm Beach.
Attorney Brian P. Gabriel has over 30 years of experience fighting DUI charges in Palm Beach County and surrounding areas. He holds an esteemed reputation among judges, prosecutors, police officers, and others in the legal sphere. As a Top 100 Lawyer with the National Trial Lawyers, you can trust him to provide a thorough defense and personalized attention to your case.
Do not hesitate to call The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.