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Factors that raise misdemeanor DUI to a felony

Florida and all other states, plus the District of Columbia, have enacted laws that make driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol a crime. According to FindLaw, a standard DUI is a misdemeanor that typically carries a jail sentence at an area county facility. Misdemeanors are usually divided into three degrees, depending on their seriousness. Less serious than a misdemeanor is an Infraction, which does not include jail time. A felony is more serious than a misdemeanor and it carries stiffer penalties, which typically involves a fine and prison sentence.

So when does a standard DUI become a felony charge instead? FindLaw notes that there are several conditions that can elevate a misdemeanor.

  • Bodily harm: States and sometimes prosecutors may choose to increase DUI charges to a felony in cases where another person is hurt.
  • Children involved: Many states have statutes that attach enhanced penalties if children are riding in a vehicle whose driver is charged with DUI.
  • Elevated BAC level: Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher are considered intoxicated and can be charged with DUI. If a driver has a BAC of .15 or more, Florida may raise the charge to a felony.
  • Prior convictions: Felony DUI may also be charged when a driver has previous convictions for DUI offenses within a specific period of time.
  • License restrictions: If a driver is charged with DUI while using a license that has been suspended, restricted or revoked, states may raise the offense to a felony.

DUI charges can wreak havoc in your life, not to mention the lives of anyone else who may be involved. A felony DUI carries long-lasting consequences that include prison, stiff fines and a record that follows drivers around for many years, if not for life.

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