West Palm Beach Felony DUI Lawyer
A first offense for drunk driving in Florida–i.e., a DUI–is generally prosecuted as a misdemeanor. While the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction are serious, it is often not the end of the world. However, there are circumstances where even a first-time offender may face felony DUI charges, which can carry far more severe penalties if there is a conviction.
A felony DUI means potentially serious jail time and the loss of your driver’s license for multiple years. So if you are facing such charges you need to take action. Your first step should be to contact an experienced West Palm Beach felony DUI lawyer who understands the law in this area. At the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., we represent many people like yourself who are surprised they are now staring down a felony conviction based on a drunk driving charge.
What Makes Drunk Driving a Felony in Florida?
As noted above, first-time DUIs are usually considered misdemeanor offenses. Indeed, such charges can often be pleaded down or dismissed. But there are circumstances where Florida law considers drunk driving a felony, and these are much harder to plead down or negotiate. There are a few different ways you can be charged with felony DUI:
If you have two prior DUI convictions–in any state–and are charged with a third DUI within 10 years of any of your prior convictions, the third offense is charged as a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum prison term of 5 years.
If you have three prior DUI convictions, a fourth or subsequent DUI is automatically charged as a felony, regardless of how long it has been since your last conviction.
If you are accused of causing serious bodily injury to another person–including other people in your own car–while driving drunk, you can be charged with a third-degree felony regardless of whether you have any prior DUI convictions.
If you are accused of causing the death of another person–or an unborn child–while driving drunk, you can be charged with DUI manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Keep in mind that if you are charged with a felony DUI in connection with injuring or killing another person, in addition to the potential felony criminal conviction you may face civil lawsuits from the victims or their families. You can also be ordered to pay restitution as part of any sentence upon conviction.
Contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson Today
If a prosecutor charges you with felony DUI, it is not a bluff. The state takes drunk driving quite seriously, and you need to do so as well. This means working with a skilled West Palm Beach felony DUI lawyer who can represent your interests throughout any criminal proceedings. So if you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible, contact the Law Office of Scott N. Richardson, P.A., at any time.