Is a DUI in Florida a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

Although the vast majority of DUI cases are charged as a misdemeanor, the answer to that question ultimately depends on a host of factors. In fact, we have counted at least 15 different ways that a DUI could be charged in Florida.

Below is a quick summary of the statutory maximum penalties allowed under Florida law for different types of DUI charges.

Different types of misdemeanor DUI charges:

  • First DUI – a misdemeanor with a statutory maximum penalty of up to 6 months in jail.
  • DUI with a child passenger in the vehicle – a misdemeanor with a statutory maximum of up to 9 months in jail.
  • DUI with a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .15 – a misdemeanor with a statutory maximum of up to 9 months in jail.
  • Second DUI outside of five years – a misdemeanor with a statutory maximum of up to 9 months in jail.
  • Second DUI within five years – a second DUI within five years of a prior conviction is a misdemeanor with a maximum of up to 9 months in jail.
    • (unless it is also proven that the BAC is over .15 or a child was in the car – then the maximum is 12 months in jail).
  • DUI with property damage (or non-serious personal injury) – a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum of up to 12 months in jail.
  • Third DUI outside of 10 years – a misdemeanor with a statutory maximum of up to 12 months in jail.

Different types of felony DUI charges in Florida:

  • Third DUI within 10 years – a third DUI can be charged as a felony if the third DUI arrest is within 10 years of any prior DUI conviction. A third DUI within 10 years of a prior is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • Fourth or Subsequent DUI – any fourth DUI can be charged as a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
  • DUI with Serious Bodily Injury – a third-degree felony with a maximum of five years in prison.
  • DUI Manslaughter – a second-degree felony with a maximum of 15 years in prison.
  • DUI Manslaughter / Leaving the Scene – a first-degree felony with a maximum of 30 years in prison.
  • Vehicular Homicide – a second-degree felony with a maximum of 15 years in prison.
  • Vehicular Homicide / Leaving the Scene – a first-degree felony with a maximum of 30 years in prison.

The Statute of Limitations for DUI Charges

The statute of limitations for DUI depends on the way the case is charged and the nature of the crime. For example, the following rules apply to DUI cases when determining the statute of limitations:

  • DUI charged as a first-degree misdemeanor has a two-year statute of limitations;
  • DUI charged as a second or third-degree felony has a three-year statute of limitations; or 
  • DUI charged as a first-degree felony has a four-year statute of limitations (unless the felony resulted in the death of another person in a fatal accident and then no time limit applies).

Attorneys for Felony and Misdemeanor DUI in Tampa, FL

If you were charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor DUI, then seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you at every stage of the case.

We can help you demand a formal review hearing within 10 days of your arrest so that we can contest the administrative suspension of your driver’s license at the Bureau of Administrative Reviews office in Tampa.

For the criminal case, we can represent you at each court date including the first appearance, arraignment, dispositions, pre-trial conferences, motion hearings to suppress or exclude evidence, motion hearings to dismiss the charges, and at the bench or jury trial.

In many of these cases, the DUI defense attorney can convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a less serious offense such as reckless driving or careless driving. In some cases, the prosecutor might be forced to drop the charges before trial.

Don’t face the judge alone. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL. Let us put our experience to work for you.

Call 813-250-0500.


Additional Resources

Florida DUI Penalties – Visit the website for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to learn more about the statutory maximum and mandatory minimum penalties for different types of DUI charges.

This article was last updated on Friday, March 1, 2019.

One Comment

  1. Andre L. Vaughn
    Posted October 21, 2014 at 15:11 | Permalink | Reply

    Very informative…..Laws are a bit different here in St. Louis but not too different. Nice post.

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