If you were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Miami-Dade County, you may be wondering if, and when, a Florida DUI can be prosecuted as a felony. Is a Florida DUI a felony or a misdemeanor? It can be either, but it all depends on the facts of the case.
I’ll tell you right now that by far the majority of Florida DUIs are misdemeanors; however, some of them are felonies. Let’s take a look at the differences between misdemeanor and felony DUIs in Florida:
It’s a misdemeanor DUI when:
- It is a first or second DUI within 10 years, and
- No one else was seriously injured.
So, if this was your first or second DUI offense within the past 10 years and you did not cause serious injuries to anyone else, it would be a misdemeanor.
Even if you caused an accident involving property damage and minor injuries, it would still be prosecuted as a misdemeanor under Section 316.193(3) of the Florida Statutes (punishable by no more than a $1,000 fine or one year in jail).
It is a felony DUI when:
- It is a third or subsequent DUI within 10 years, or
- Someone was seriously injured or killed.
Suppose you are convicted of a third or subsequent DUI offense within 10 years in Florida. In this case, you would be guilty of a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, or by a maximum $5,000 fine, or by both. Felony DUI can be found under Section 316.193(2),(3) of the Florida Statutes.
What if Someone Was Killed?
It’s not uncommon for drunk drivers to kill pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers and passengers in other vehicles; sometimes drunk drivers kill their own passengers. When a drunk driver takes someone else’s life, it is always a felony under Section 316.193(3) of the Florida Statutes.
DUI manslaughter is a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, or by a $10,000 fine, or both. However, if it’s prosecuted as DUI manslaughter/leaving the scene, it’s a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, or by a $10,000 fine, or both.
Looking for a Miami DUI defense attorney to fight your DUI charges? Contact my firm today to take advantage of my 30 plus years of experience!