The consequences of a felony DUI in Orlando are far more severe than a standard DUI conviction. If convicted of felony charges, you could face a minimum prison sentence, huge fines, driver’s license suspension, revocation of constitutional rights, and a permanent criminal record.
Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors under Florida law, however, if you have multiple DUI convictions or there were certain aggravating factors, you will be charged with a felony. If you have been charged with a felony DUI in Orlando, it is vital that you contact one of our DUI lawyers as soon as possible. A DUI attorney can help get your charges reduced to a misdemeanor or get your case dismissed based on a strong defense strategy.
Orlando DUI Lawyers at The Law Place
At The Law Place, our law firm has over 75 years of combined experience fighting DUIs and related criminal matters. Our DUI attorneys understand the consequences of Florida DUI charges and they will do everything in their power to prevent a criminal conviction. We have a team of criminal lawyers that are highly skilled in litigation and fighting cases at trial.
Most of the lawyers at our firm have an AVVO rating of 10.0, which is the highest score attainable for lawyers in Orlando. Our DUI attorney, David A. Haenel, has worked as a former DUI prosecutor and was named as the State of Florida DUI prosecutor of the year during his time. Because of his experience working on the opposite team, he can build unique defenses for each of his DUI clients and predict arguments that the prosecution will make.
Felony DUI offenses carry harsh penalties. Because of this, it is important to have the best DUI lawyers by your side. At The Law Place, all of our DUI defense lawyers in Orlando have what it takes to fight against your felony DUI charges and build a strong criminal defense strategy on your behalf.
Call our law firm at (941)-444-4444 to schedule a free consultation.
What Is a DUI?
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime in Orlando. Florida law provides that an individual cannot operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. An individual can face a DUI arrest if a police officer has probable cause to suspect that an individual is driving under the influence.
This probable cause could include the behavior of the driver when pulled over, their mannerisms, or a failed field sobriety test. If the driver is under the age of 21, they can face a DUI arrest if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than 0.02%. A minor will face automatic license suspension for 6 months. This suspension period will be extended if they face subsequent convictions or refuse to take a chemical test.
Criminal Consequences of a DUI in Orlando
The consequences that an individual can face for DUI convictions include:
- Jail time.
- Driver’s license suspended.
- DUI school.
- Victim awareness program.
- Permanent criminal record.
- Vehicle impoundment.
- Requirement to take part in a drug and alcohol problem.
If you are facing driving under the influence charges, contact The Law Place today to speak with an Orlando DUI attorney. They can advise you on your current situation, assess whether you are likely to receive a criminal conviction, and build a strong criminal defense strategy on your behalf to fight against the charges.
Charges that Result in a Felony DUI in Orlando, FL
In Orlando, a driving under the influence charge can be brought as a misdemeanor or a felony. In most DUI cases, a person will be charged with a misdemeanor, particularly if it is their first offense. However, DUI law sets out certain situations that result in an automatic felony charge, including certain aggravating factors and multiple DUI convictions.
Third or Fourth DUI Arrest
First and second DUIs will be automatically charged as misdemeanors. However, an individual may face a felony DUI charge for a third or fourth DUI arrest, depending on the circumstances.
With a third time DUI, you can receive a felony charge if the previous two DUIs occurred within the past 10 years. A felony conviction for a third DUI will cause a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail or rehab. However, you are likely to face much severe consequences, including a longer sentence, license revocation for up to 10 years, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for up to 2 years, DUI school, and fines of between $2,000 and $5,000.
The courts automatically prosecute a fourth DUI as a felony in Orlando. If you were convicted of 4 DUIs within a 5-year period, you risk being charged as a habitual felony offender, under Florida’s Three Strikes Rule. Penalties for this could include up to 10 years in prison, a mandatory minimum sentence, minimum fines of $2,000, probation, vehicle impoundment, DUI school, and license revocation.
DUI manslaughter involves fatally injuring another individual while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To be convicted of this crime, the prosecution must prove that you were over the legal limit, you had actual physical control of the vehicle, and you contributed to causing the death of another person, which can include an unborn child.
Actual physical control of a vehicle does not always mean that you were operating the vehicle. The prosecution must show only that you had sufficient capability to operate the vehicle that you were in or on at the time of the accident. Even if you were not driving the vehicle when the accident occurred, you may still face felony DUI manslaughter charges..
DUI Manslaughter Penalties in Orlando, FL
Because of the serious nature of this crime, DUI manslaughter is automatically charged as a second-degree felony. The penalties for a second-degree felony include:
- Mandatory minimum sentence of 124 months and 15 days.
- Maximum of 15 years in prison.
- Maximum fines of $10,000.
- Probation period extending to 15 years.
- Permanent revocation of your driver’s license.
- Vehicle impoundment.
- Community service.
- Participation in a DUI Substance Abuse Course.
The penalties will increase to 30 years in prison if you left the scene of the crime without giving your contact information to those at the scene.
If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges in Orlando, you will need strong legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. A DUI lawyer from our law firm can help investigate your case and assess what type of defense we can use to avoid a conviction or get your charges reduced substantially.
DUI With Serious Bodily Injury
If you caused serious bodily injury to another individual while drunk driving, you can face a third-degree felony charge, as provided under Florida Statute 316.193 (3)(c) 2. Serious bodily injury involves any injury that presents a risk of death, disfigurement, losing the use of a body part, or impairing the use of a body part.
To be convicted of this charge, the prosecution must prove that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle, you were driving over the legal limit, and your actions caused or contributed to the serious bodily injuries of the alleged victim.
DUI With Serious Bodily Injuries Penalties in Orlando, FL
If convicted, the penalties for a third-degree felony include up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, driver’s license revocation, installation of an IID, community service, DUI school, fines of up to $5,000, and a permanent criminal record. Depending on the severity of the personal injury suffered by the alleged victim, you could be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.
Like DUI involving manslaughter, convictions for DUIs involving serious bodily injuries can cause harsh penalties. If facing these charges in Orlando, get in contact with our criminal defense attorneys from The Law Place as soon as possible. Our law firm will build a strong defense strategy on your behalf and negotiate to get your charges dropped or reduced.
Aggravated DUIs in Orlando, FL
DUI law in Florida states that if a person is operating a motor vehicle with a BAC level higher than 0.15%, they will be charged with an aggravated DUI, or a felony DUI. There are other aggravating factors that can cause a charge to be upgraded to a felony DUI, including:
- Children present – If there was a minor under the age of 18 present at the time of the arrest, the DUI will be upgraded to a felony. Driving in a school zone while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is also an aggravating factor under law.
- Prior convictions – If you have a prior conviction for a DUI offense within a five or ten-year period, your charge could be increase to a felony or aggravated felony DUI. Multiple criminal offenses for drunk and reckless driving in a short period can cause your charges to be increased to a felony.
- Car accident – If your drunk driving resulted in a car accident with minor injury or property damage, the prosecutor will upgrade the misdemeanor charge to an aggravated misdemeanor DUI. If your drunk driving resulted in serious injury or property damage, they will increase it to an aggravated felony DUI.
Aggravating factors have the potential to turn a minor misdemeanor charge into an aggravated or felony offense. The criminal justice system takes a tough approach towards those accused of aggravated DUIs, and you face much harsher penalties if convicted. If there were any aggravating factors in your DUI case, seek legal counsel to help avoid harsh penalties.
Consequences of a DUI Felony Conviction in Orlando, FL
The consequences of a DUI felony conviction in Orlando are extreme. The criminal justice system, including lawmakers, police officers, and prosecutors, takes a tough approach towards those who drive under the influence. Besides imposing harsh criminal penalties, like prison time and extortionate fines, convicted individuals will have to deal with the following consequences:
Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
The installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle is mandatory for most Orlando DUI felony convictions. An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breathalyzer for a person’s vehicle.
With this device, individuals must blow into the breath test before operating their vehicle. If they test with any alcohol in their system, they cannot operate their vehicle and the violation will be reported to the authorities.
If you are convicted of a felony DUI in Orlando, you may have an IID installed in your vehicle for a mandatory minimum period of 2 years. Depending on the amount of previous convictions you have received, this installation period could increase.
If arrested for a DUI in Orlando, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended. It may be possible to apply for a hardship or restricted license after a certain period. However, if you have been previously convicted of a DUI within the state, it can become more complicated.
The DUI attorneys from The Law Place can advise you on whether you are entitled to apply for a restricted license and they help you with the process.
Permanent Criminal Record
Besides the criminal penalties, automatic license suspension, and installation of an IID in your vehicle, you will receive a permanent criminal record with a felony DUI conviction. A criminal record can have a serious impact on your life and future opportunities.
With a record, you will be subject to background checks by future employers, education institutions, banks, financial institutions, and any other organization that requests to see your criminal history. In Orlando, there are some fields of employment that refuse to hire felons, including education, public office, and healthcare.
In addition, you will lose some constitutional rights with a felony record, including the right to bear arms, the right to work in law enforcement, and the right to vote in elections.
How an Experienced Orlando DUI Lawyer Can Help
Felony DUI charges, including third and fourth convictions, DUIs causing serious bodily injuries, and DUI manslaughter cases carry serious consequences. If convicted, you could face a long mandatory minimum sentence in prison, huge fines, long probation periods, permanent license suspension, and a criminal record.
Police officers and prosecutors will often do everything in their capacity to convict you of the crime. They will hire experts, analysts, get search warrants for your vehicle, home residence, blood results, and much more. This is because they need to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If they do not have this evidence, they cannot convict you of the crime.
However, you will need to have a fierce attorney by your side to prove to a court that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to convict you. Prosecutors are skilled at what they do, and they know what to say to a Judge or jury to convict a defendant.
Luckily, the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at The Law Place have handled hundreds of DUI cases, and have previously worked on the other side securing convictions. We know what to say and do to ensure that you are not convicted of a felony DUI.
What Our Orlando DUI Lawyers Will Do
Our Orlando DUI lawyers can help you by carrying out an independent investigation, speaking to witnesses, getting expert testimony from car manufacturers, retrieving CCTV footage and video evidence, and listening to any 911 calls from the scene. We will then use this evidence to build a strong defense strategy, either arguing your innocence or reducing your liability.
Our criminal defense lawyer, AnneMarie Rizzo, is the only female attorney in the State of Florida that has been awarded the Forensic Lawyer Scientist certification. She has unique experience analyzing blood samples and ensuring accuracy with tests used in DUI cases. She has tried many cases in Central Florida courts involving accident reconstruction and toxicology in relation to DUI cases, which gives our law firm a unique advantage over others in the area.
The criminal defense lawyers from our law firm will use our extensive experience to fight against evidence and arguments put forward by the prosecution, and build an airtight defense on your behalf. We will then use this defense strategy to get your charges dropped or reduced to a misdemeanor reckless driving charge. Our experienced lawyers understand what needs to be done to fight against felony DUI charges.
Criminal Defense Strategies for Felony DUIs in Orlando, FL
The only way to avoid harsh penalties for a DUI conviction is to have a strong criminal defense strategy. Coming up with a defense strategy for a DUI case without knowledge of the law will be extremely difficult. If facing DUI charges, you will need to hire an experienced Orlando DUI lawyer to investigate your case and build a defense strategy on your behalf.
At The Law Place, our DUI attorneys have an in-depth understanding of DUI law within the state, and have helped many clients avoid DUI convictions. The defense that we will use for your case depends on the type of charges you are facing, the evidence brought against you, and the particular circumstances of the case.
Some examples of defenses our attorneys could use include:
Police officers in Orlando must have a valid reason for pulling you over at a traffic stop and carrying out a field sobriety test. These reasons can include:
- Probable cause to believe that you have committed or are committing a crime.
- Reasonable suspicion that you have committed or are committing a traffic violation.
Florida DUI lawyers may argue that a police officer did not have a valid reason to conduct a traffic stop and as a result, any tests or questioning conducted afterwards are invalid. The onus is on the prosecutor to prove why you were pulled over. If they cannot prove this, our Orlando DUI defense lawyers will try to get your charges dropped.
Both field sobriety tests and breathalyzer have serious inaccuracies. With field sobriety tests, a police officer may make an incorrect judgement of whether you are intoxicated. You could suffer from an impairment that makes it difficult to walk, or your balance could be off for other reasons.
If your DUI case rests on a field sobriety test, our criminal defense lawyers will question the accuracy of the results and assess whether the officer was qualified to carry out this test.
With a breath test, there are many factors that can go wrong. It is possible that the apparatus used to carry out the test was damaged or used incorrectly, resulting in an inaccurate reading. If this is the case, our Orlando DUI attorneys will use this as a basis to get your charges thrown out.
Lack of Actual Physical Control
With all DUI charges, the prosecutor must prove that you had actual physical control of the vehicle. If there were no witnesses to the scene, the police officer must base this on their own testimony and any evidence from the scene.
If you were sleeping in the back of your vehicle or if there is insufficient evidence to prove that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle, our DUI defense lawyers will use this as a basis to get your charges dropped.
DUI Involving Manslaughter
With DUI manslaughter cases, the burden of proof for the prosecutor is significantly higher. Because of the harsh penalties with a manslaughter case, the prosecutor must have significant evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
An experienced Orlando DUI lawyer should conduct an independent investigation into your case to assess whether your actions actually caused the death of the victim. It is possible that the victim died because of existing health conditions, such as a heart condition, or that the vehicle malfunctioned, causing the victim’s death.
An Orlando DUI lawyer from our law firm will hire expert witnesses and independent investigators to assess whether the accident was caused by separate factors. They will speak with vehicle manufacturers and any witnesses to the scene to support your defense strategy. Coming up against manslaughter charges requires a tough, airtight defense, which is why you should contact us at The Law Place as soon as possible.
Can I Apply for a Hardship License With a Felony DUI Case?
When you are arrested for a DUI, your driver’s license is automatically suspended. Most people in Orlando, however, need their driver’s license to do daily tasks, such as going to work, picking children up from school, and going grocery shopping. Because of this, there is the opportunity to apply for a hardship license, which is a restricted license that can be used while waiting for your suspension period to be over.
If you have been charged with an Orlando felony DUI, it may be because you have prior DUI convictions or because there were aggravating factors. If it is because you had one prior DUI conviction, you will need to wait one year before applying for a hardship license. If you had two prior DUI convictions, you will need to wait 2 years before applying for a hardship license.
Restrictions on Hardship Licenses in Orlando, FL
Unfortunately, with felony DUI hardship licenses, there are ‘work purposes only’ restrictions, meaning that you can only use the license to drive to and from work. In addition, you will need to do the following requirements before you can apply:
- Enroll and take part in DUI school.
- Bring proof of enrollment to the DHSMV Administrative Review Office.
- Get a Florida FR44 policy after your DUI conviction to prove you had valid insurance.
- Apply for a restricted license and pay the filing fee.
Once you have waited the required period and submitted the relevant forms and documentation, there will be a Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department hearing to assess whether you should be entitled to a restricted license. The reasoning will be based on whether a full restriction would cause you and your family harm, and whether allowing you to drive might harm the public.
One of the DUI lawyers from our law firm can help guide you through applying for a hardship license and petition on your behalf to get you back on the roads.
What Is DUI School?
All Florida citizens convicted of a DUI are required to take part in DUI school. For a first DUI offense, you must attend a 12 hour DUI course relating to the harm of driving under the influence, risk assessment testing, substance abuse issues, and DUI law in Florida.
The goal of these programs is to teach DUI offenders of the harms and risks associated with driving while intoxicated. Courts and local government believe that by attending these schools, those convicted are less likely to re-offend. The program guides people towards substance abuse programs and group therapy to help individuals deal with issues they may be facing.
If you have been convicted of more than one DUI, you will be required to attend DUI school for a longer period, which increases based on the number of convictions. Longer DUI programs are more focused on rehabilitation and helping individuals with therapy and mental health resources in Orlando.
Contact an Orlando Felony DUI Lawyer at The Law Place Today!
Felony DUI charges have the potential to ruin your life. Besides the criminal penalties of mandatory minimum sentences, huge fines, requirement to attend DUI school, license revocation, and lengthy probation periods, you will also be stuck with a criminal record for the rest of your life.
A criminal record can affect your ability to find work, apply to a bank for a loan, vote in elections, bear arms, and a lot more. The only way to prevent a conviction for a felony DUI is to hire the legal services of an experienced Orlando DUI attorney. At The Law Place, we have a team of highly experienced DUI attorneys who will fight tooth and nail to get the best possible result in your case.
The lawyers from our Orlando law office understand how difficult and stressful it is to face a felony DUI charge, and we want to help you as best that we can. When you contact us, we will set you up with our best DUI attorney who will advise you on your situation. You can decide whether you want to take the case to trial or negotiate with the prosecutor to secure a plea bargain.
Our priority is protecting your legal rights, ensuring that you get the highest standard of legal representation, and doing everything we can to get your charges dismissed.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at (941)-444-4444.