Florida Felony DUI


A DUI can become a felony under certain circumstances. 

Many people ask why their DUI is filed as a felony and not a misdemeanor.  If this DUI is the third DUI conviction, meaning two prior convictions of DUI, and the most recent previous conviction is within 10 years, this DUI could be classified as a third degree felony with felony penalties.  This is true no matter how long ago the first conviction was or if it, or both, were out of state convictions.  It is important to see if the prior DUIs are still on your record and if they are counted as DUI convictions or if they can be proven by the state.    

A fourth DUI conviction is a felony, no matter how long ago or where the previous three convictions were.  Again, the state will need to produce a certified Judgement and Sentence of those convictions to prove felony status.

A DUI involving serious bodily injury to another is a felony of the third degree regardless of whether there are any previous DUIs. Under Florida law, DUI with serious bodily injury is a third degree felony charge with a maximum penalty of 5 years in Florida State Prison. 

DUI Manslaughter occurs when a person dies as a result of the driving of an impaired driver and carries a prison sentence as a mandatory penalty. 


Under the Florida Punishment Code, formerly called Sentencing Guidelines, even with no prior criminal history a DUI with serious bodily injury (SBI) will score significant points under the Punishment Code. The charge itself adds a large number to the score and also victim injury points are added for a severe injury. Under the Punishment Code, even with no prior record a person with a charge of DUI with Serious Injuries would score  approximately 4 years in state prison.  On a DUI manslaughter the score would call for a prison sentence in the 10 year range. 

 Defenses to DUI with Serious Bodily Injury (SBI)

     The most common defenses are:
Insufficient proof that a person was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired, or,  that the driver (the charged person) was not the cause of the accident and the serious bodily injury.

     As with every DUI, whether misdemeanor or felony, every case is investigated thoroughly by us, from the stop, or the accident, including procedures used by the officers, validity of methods used, maintenance of equipment, proper use of and training on the equipment, and consultation with experts regarding breath, blood or urine samples, if any were taken.

     In most DUI cases, the police officers request either a breath test or a blood test. We may be able to challenge these tests. The intoxilyzer machines may not be properly calibrated or maintained, or have had repair issues, or a person could have some underlying medical condition or health issue that could affect breath or blood test results. It may be possible to get charges reduced or dropped depending on what we can find.

Driver License Revocation for a Felony DUI Conviction

     In addition to the penalties discussed above, a conviction for DUI with serious bodily injury will result in a minimum three year suspension or revocation of your Florida driver’s license. The law now states that such a suspension does not begin until after any period of incarceration, jail or prison is completed.

     A suspension of five years will result from a conviction of a second DUI which occurs within five years of the  previous DUI conviction.

     A suspension of ten years will result from a conviction of a third  DUI which occurs within five years of the last previous conviction. 

     A lifetime suspension will result from a conviction of a fourth DUI no matter how old the prior convictions may be.   

     If you have been arrested for felony DUI with Serious Bodily Injury after a car crash, contact an experienced Clearwater DUI attorney or St. Petersburg DUI defense attorney that handles felony DUI with Serious Bodily Injury (SBI).

    Sandefer Law Firm is experienced in handling Felony DUI cases in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, all of Pinellas County and Pasco County and the state of Florida.

Contact a Florida Felony DUI Lawyer


  •  Evaluation of Your DUI Case – The first thing to look at in a Florida DUI case is the stop.  A law enforcement officer must have a stated legal ground to stop your vehicle.
  •  Other Types of DUI Accusations – Many DUI cases involve the accusation of impairment due to drug ingestion. Not only are we experienced in this area, we have access to experts including renowned chemists to review your case and offer testimony if necessary.
  •  DUI Manslaughter – A DUI MANSLAUGHTER occurs when there is a death of a human being caused or contributed to by a person who is driving under the influence to the extent his or her normal faculties are impaired.
  •  Possible Penalties for DUI – Penalties for DUI can increase if a person has any prior convictions for driving under the influence. The number of convictions, when they occurred, and even whether you were represented can have dramatic affects on your license and penalties.
  •  Traffic DUI Law – Arrested for a Florida Traffic DUI? In Florida, if you have been arrested for DUI and your breath test result was .08 or higher, or if you refused to take the breath test, the officer probably took your driver’s license from you.
  •  Florida DUI Developments – Larry Sandefer attends valuable programs locally and nationally such as “Masters of DUI”, “Blood, Breath and Tears”, as well as the National DUI Conference put on by the National College of DUI Defense
  •  FREE DUI Case Evaluation – Contact us today for a Free Florida DUI Case Evaluation.


Felony DUI Lawyer Pinellas County and Tampa Bay