glass of alcohol next to car keys insinuating drunk driving dui

DUI charges are serious on their own, but a felony DUI charge has the potential to alter your future. 

If you’ve been charged, you need a strong defense. Our experienced Florida defense attorney will fight to protect your rights and freedom. To learn how we can help you, contact Van Elswyk Law today to schedule your consultation. 

A Criminal Defense Firm You Can Trust

A charge for a felony DUI can result in serious consequences. Therefore, it’s critical to have the guidance and support of a skilled defense attorney.

Van Elswyk Law is a Florida defense firm with extensive experience helping clients facing criminal charges. Attorney Van Elswyk’s background serves him in his role as a criminal defense attorney, as he utilizes his education, knowledge, and skills to formulate the best possible defense on your behalf.

If you’re facing a criminal charge for felony DUI, you’re not alone. Contact Van Elswyk Law as soon as possible to begin working on your case. 

What is a DUI in Florida?

DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” Other acronyms, including DWI (driving while intoxicated), are also commonly used, but Florida law primarily utilizes DUI. 

In Florida, an individual may face a charge of DUI if they:

  • Are in physical control of a vehicle or operating a vehicle;
  • Are under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances; and
  • Have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater; or
  • Their normal faculties are impaired.

Florida law makes it illegal for an individual to be in control of a vehicle or drive a vehicle if they are under the influence.

During traffic stops, law enforcement officers use several tests to check for intoxication, including field sobriety tests like the one-leg stand, the walk and turn and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus eye test (“HGN”). Additionally, officers can check BAC with breathalyzers, blood tests, or urine samples.

Typically, first and second-time DUIs in Florida are considered misdemeanors. However, specifics of a DUI charge and subsequent penalties vary based on circumstances.

What makes a DUI a felony?

Although many DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, DUIs can also be felonies. But what changes a DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony?

Generally, a DUI becomes a felony based on “aggravating factors” such as serious bodily injury or death of someone involved in a crash, or the number of previous DUI offenses. 

A charge for DUI is considered to be a felony in any of the following circumstances:

  • A Third DUI Charge Within 10 Years: If a defendant is charged with a DUI within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction, and they have a second previous conviction, it would be considered to be a third-degree felony
  • A Fourth DUI Offense: When a defendant is charged with their fourth DUI offense, regardless of how long it’s been since their last DUI conviction, it is charged as a third-degree felony
  • DUI Resulting in Serious Bodily Harm: If, while driving under the influence, the defendant causes anyone harm, including their own passengers, the DUI charge would be a third-degree felony
  • DUI Manslaughter: A charge of DUI manslaughter involves the defendant causing the death of another person, which is charged as a second-degree felony

Because felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, they carry more serious consequences that could impact a person’s life and freedom.

Potential Consequences of a Charge for Felony DUI

A charge for felony DUI carries substantial penalties, but the extent of consequences depends on the details of the case.

A third DUI charge within 10 years, a fourth DUI offense, and DUIs resulting in bodily harm are all charged as third-degree felonies. Penalties for third-degree felonies involve up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. 

DUI manslaughter, on the other hand, is charged as a second-degree felony. Therefore, it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. 

Additionally, for DUIs resulting in harm or death of a victim, the defendant may also be responsible for paying restitution. This restitution can help cover medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost income, and, in the case of death, funeral-related expenses.

Along with jeopardizing your future, penalties for felony DUI can also be costly. Therefore, if you’re facing charges of felony DUI, it’s best to speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to begin working on your defense. 

Protecting Your Future with a Strong Defense

For criminal cases, such as felony DUI, there are several defenses your lawyer can use. Their exact defense strategy depends on the circumstances of your case.

A strong defense can help reach a more favorable outcome for you, including reduced charges, dropped charges, or lesser punishment. If your case goes to trial, a great defense can help win your case and preserve your future. 

Nothing takes the place of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Having a lawyer on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

An Experienced Felony DUI Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Future

If you’ve been charged with a felony DUI, you’re not alone in your struggles. The criminal defense team at Van Elswyk Law is ready to help you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.