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How is a 4th DUI Charge Significant in Florida?

DUI’s are common in Florida. But what happens when the driver gets arrested for his fourth DUI in Florida? Why is number 4 such a powerful DUI number in Florida?

In Florida, if the Assistant State Attorney can prove three prior convictions for DUI, then the driver with his or her fourth DUI is facing a felony. Specifically, any person who is convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of this section, regardless of when any prior conviction for a violation of this section occurred, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in FL Gen. Stat.  by up to 5 years in Prison. However, the fine imposed for such fourth or subsequent violation may be not less than $2,000. The loss of driver’s license for the 4th dui conviction ranges from 10 years to life. Recently, in Martin County, FL the 4TH District Court of Appeals ruled that a lifetime driver’s license revocation for a driver who got his 4th DUI was Constitutional. The 4th DCA presides and sets the legality of the laws and statutes for not only Martin County but also Palm Beach County, Broward County, Okeechobee County, St. Lucie County and Indian River County.  This should come as no surprise, because since 2004 the Florida Supreme Court reasoned that a permanent revocation on a driver’s license after a 4th DUI, with the last dui within ten years of the current dui, was not only constitutional but required by statute. See Dep’t of Hwy Safety & Motor Veh. v. Critchfield.

So, now that the law is clearly settled that 4 DUI’s in Florida equals a felony and can result in a permanent driver’s license revocation,  how does the prosecutor prove the previous DUI’s?

In Florida, the courts allowed the certified convictions of the driver’s record to come into evidence to prove the prior convictions. Since 2001, the courts have held that when a prior conviction is being used to constitute an element of a charged crime, like dui enhanced, the prior conviction must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the introduction of certified copies of each judgment. SEE Garcia v. State. The prosecutor just sends out a request to the clerk of courts in the jurisdiction, where the previous dui convictions occurred, learned from the driver’s driving record, and the certified convictions are perfected and available for use in court.

On another practical issue, Florida has witnessed a large population growth over the past 25 years. As a matter of fact, Florida will pass New York State as the 3 most Populace State in America by the end of this year. So many drivers who migrated into Florida from another State will ask whether their prior DUI’s from other States can be used to enhance their 4th DUI in Florida? The easy quick response is YES!  But why so fast with a yes? Well because the legislatures have recognized the population explosion in Florida and have written the DUI enhanced legislation to be like a big ocean net catching as many drivers as possible and the appellate courts have ruled the same.

It has been clear since 1995, in Florida, that the Legislature of this State intends the DUI Enhanced Statute to include a wide range of foreign offense as previous offenses. See McAdam v. State. The Appellate Court went on to reason that “even a foreign conviction where the laws of the foreign jurisdiction only require driving when “affected ‘to the slightest degree so that [the offender] is less able than he ordinarily would have been … to exercise due care in the operation of a vehicle,” constituted a prior offense for purposes of enhancement under the Florida Statutes. Again See McAdam v. State. Therefore, the likelihood of a prior DUI conviction from a foreign State being used against the driver in Florida facing a new DUI is almost a guarantee.

If you are drinking and driving in Palm Beach County, Broward County or on the Treasure Coast you run the risk of being stopped and arrested for DUI. If you have prior convictions, even from foreign jurisdictions, you’re likely to face enhanced penalties. Criminal Traffic Attorney Andrew D. Stine has been fighting for his clients in Palm Beach County, Broward County and throughout the Treasure Coast since 2001, when I was a certified legal intern with the Public Defender’s Office. For over a decade, Palm Beach County Criminal Trial Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine has fought in felony DUI court, felony dui homicide court and misdemeanor dui court for his clients. DUI Lawyer Andrew D. Stine has trial experience in every level of every court in Florida. Make sure when you are choosing a lawyer to defend you or a loved one in a DUI, felony DUI or DUI homicide; the criminal trial dui lawyer you choose has courtroom experience in motions, trials and appeals. Palm Beach County DUI Lawyer, Andrew D. Stine, has appeared in misdemeanor court to conduct trials on DUI’S, Felony Court to defend DUI’S and DUI Homicides and even in Florida’s Appellate Courts to argue for his clients on Appeal. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI then HIRE STINE AND ONLY PAY A FINE AND DON’T DO THE TIME!

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