Mechanical violations, parking tickets and speeding citations are infractions nearly everyone has dealt with. Whether you fail to see the stop sign or zip through it intentionally, you may end up with a ticket that will cost you time to resolve and ultimately money. However, when it comes to drunk driving, you are looking at an offense that can be far more serious than an infraction.
The severity of a drunk driving arrest and its potential penalties depend on several factors. In many cases, if you have no previous DUI arrests, the charge against you will be a misdemeanor. While you still risk harsh penalties, a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony. Nevertheless, in certain situations, a DUI charge can easily escalate to a felony.
Misdemeanor or felony DUI?
Florida's DUI laws are among the strictest in the country. This is saying a lot since most states continue to toughen their stands against drunk drivers and increase the penalties even for first offenses. A misdemeanor DUI in Florida may place you at risk of thousands in fines and fees, the potential for months behind bars and other consequences such as community service and license revocation. First and second offense DUIs are misdemeanors in Florida. A felony charge may include any of the following factors:
- Your third conviction or higher within the past 10 years
- Involvement in an accident that causes someone else serious injury
- A blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher
- Having a minor in the vehicle while your BAC is over the legal limit
If any of these or other factors are present, you risk substantially higher fines, mandatory prison time and the potential for having your license revoked for up to ten years. Any of these penalties can significantly alter the course of your life, including jeopardizing your job and crippling your finances.
It is never a good idea to agree to DUI charges or accept a plea deal without consulting with an attorney. A legal professional with experience in Florida's DUI laws will know how to investigate the case and evaluate the evidence against you. When you are facing consequences that carry so much weight, it is important to obtain as much information as possible about your options and the most appropriate steps to take for the best possible outcome.