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What Makes a DUI a Felony?

Updated: Jan 20


Getting arrested for a DUI in Florida doesn’t mean that you are going to jail, and in many instances, a standard first-time DUI arrest that doesn’t involve a minor in your vehicle is treated as a misdemeanor.


You will have to pay a fine, and you may have to spend a little time in a local jail after a first DUI conviction, and you will lose your license for at least six months. You will also have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) that analyzes your blood-alcohol content (BAC) before it will allow your vehicle to start.


But in some instances, a first-time DUI can be charged as a felony, which means mandatory imprisonment and a hefty fine.


Situations That Turn a Misdemeanor DUI Into a Felony

In Florida, there are specific situations involving a DUI that are charged as felonies, including:


Anyone Convicted of a Third DUI Within 10 Years of the Second DUI – Charged as a third-degree felony with a maximum $5,000 fine and/or five years in prison.


Anyone Convicted of Causing Serious Bodily Injury With DUI – Charged as a third-degree felony with a maximum $5,000 fine and/or five years in prison.


DUI Manslaughter – Charged as a second-degree felony with maximum $10,000 fine and/or 15 years in prison.


DUI Manslaughter/Leaving the Scene – Charged as a first-degree felony with maximum $10,000 fine and/or 30 years in prison if driver left the scene without informing authorities after knowing someone was hurt or killed in a crash.


Vehicular Homicide – Charged as a second-degree felony with maximum $10,000 fine and/or 15 years in prison.


Vehicular Homicide/Leaving the Scene – Charged as a first-degree felony with maximum $10,000 fine and/or 30 years in prison if driver left the scene without informing authorities after knowing he or she had killed another person in a crash.

Remember that any possible prison sentence in a DUI charged as a felony will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident that caused serious bodily injury or death.


Mounting a Strong Defense

It’s bad enough to get charged with a standard DUI, but if your DUI is charged as a felony, you can spend time in prison and are subject to a stiff fine. And you will almost certainly lose your driving privileges for several years, unless you petition for a restricted license to go to and from work. If you want a fighting chance at staying out of prison, it’s important that you hire an experienced DUI attorney such as the team at the Law Office of Jeffrey Thompson. We have been voted one of the 10 best DUI/DWI law firms for client satisfaction, and for more than 30 years, we have defended clients against all types of DUI charges.


Please call us today at (321) 253-3771 to get the personalized attention you deserve.

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Phone: 321-253-3771

Fax: 321-253-1174

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Melbourne, FL 32940

Who We Help:

Our law firm is located in the Suntree area of Brevard County, Florida at (1329 Bedford Drive, Melbourne, Florida 32940). We handle cases throughout Brevard County, including, Palm Bay, Melbourne, Rockledge, and Viera, Florida.