As a Jacksonville DUI Lawyer, I have represented many people that have been charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI) in Jacksonville, Florida. The punishment for a DUI charge in Jacksonville can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the Florida DUI charge. In most Florida DUI Cases, Driving Under the Influence is a first-degree misdemeanor. As a first-degree misdemeanor, a Jacksonville Driving Under the Influence is punishable by a maximum of one year in the Duval County Jail. A first or second DUI in Florida is always a misdemeanor, unless there is serious bodily injury or death resulting from a accident that was caused by driving under the influence. Once you get past a first and second Florida DUI conviction, you can be charged with felony DUI in Jacksonville, Florida. A third DUI arrest and any subsequent Jacksonville arrest for driving under the influence may be charged as a third-degree felony. In Florida, a third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison. Florida Statute 316.193 sets forth the punishments for a DUI in Duval, Clay, St. Johns, and Nassau County, Florida.
As a Jacksonville DUI Lawyer, I have had experience with people charged with their first, second, third, and fourth DUI charges in Jacksonville, Florida. In my experience with Jacksonville DUI arrests, unless there are extreme circumstances surrounding this Florida driving crime, most third and fourth Jacksonville Driving Under the Influence are often charged as misdemeanors in Jacksonville. Very rarely is a Jacksonville DUI case charged as a Florida felony crime. Technically and legally, a Duval County Florida prosecutor may file the Jacksonville DUI as a felony charge, but they are often willing to file the driving under the influence charge as misdemeanor instead.
It is important to remember that the level of the Jacksonville Driving Under the Influence crime, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony DUI charge, does not depend on the substance that caused the impairment. This means that you can be charged with a Jacksonville alcohol-related crime, such as Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired, or you can be charged with a Jacksonville drug crime, such as Driving Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired. Regardless of whether you are charged with DUI due to alcohol or drugs in Jacksonville, it is charged under the same Florida DUI laws and leads to the same punishments under Florida Statute 316.193.
Even if you are only charged with a misdemeanor DUI crime in Jacksonville, this Florida driving under the influence charge is very serious. A Florida DUI can be used against you in the future. As stated above, if you are ever charged again, the Florida DUI on your criminal background could upgrade the DUI offense. Also, the more Florida DUI convictions that you have, the more likely you are to go to jail. For example, if you get two DUI conviction within five years, Florida law requires 10 days in the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville. Also, the more DUI charges a Jacksonville driver obtains, the more jail time the Duval County State Attorneys Office will try to seek.
The moral of the story is that if you are arrested for a DUI in Jacksonville, the last thing that you want to do is just plea guilty or no contest to this Florida DUI crime. Whether you are arrested for your first DUI in Jacksonville or your fourth Florida DUI charge, you need to talk to a Jacksonville Driving Under the Influence Lawyer about your case. A good DUI defense is priceless.