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Fourth DUI Penalties

If you were arrested for a fourth DUI in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida, the case can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. If the case is charged as a felony, the charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in Florida State Prison and a $5,000 fine.

After a person's fourth DUI conviction, only a $2,000 fine is mandatory. The statutory scheme does not require any jail or prison time for a fourth DUI. The most serious consequence of a fourth DUI conviction is a lifetime revocation of your driver's license and a possible felony conviction that could follow you for the rest of your life.

In many of these cases, one or more of the prior DUI convictions occurred out of state. Keep in mind that even if the judge and prosecutor does not know about all of the prior convictions, a fourth DUI on your Florida driving record will trigger the lifetime revocation.

This means, even if the court did not treat the DUI like a fourth DUI, the DHSMV will simply count up the number of DUI convictions on the driving record and impose the appropriate suspension or revocation. For this reason alone, it is important to avoid a fourth DUI. 

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Attorneys for a Fourth DUI in Tampa, FL

Contact a DUI Lawyer in Tampa, FL, at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss this very serious felony offense with serious criminal penalties. Call us to find out whether your three prior convictions can be used against you to enhance this DUI to a felony.

During the consultation, we can help you understand the best defenses to fight the charge, ways to avoid the typical administrative and criminal penalties, and the best way to fight for a dismissal of the case.

You only have ten (10) days after your arrest to demand a formal review hearing to challenge the administrative suspension of your driver's license. Act quickly to protect your rights as you fight for the best possible result.

Call 813-250-0500.


Florida Statute Section 316.193(2)(b)(3)

Florida Statute Section 316.193(2)(b)(3) provides that a fourth conviction for a DUI constitutes a third-degree felony and Level 6 offense under 316.193(2)(b). However, the prosecutor may be precluded from using prior misdemeanor convictions to support a felony DUI conviction under this provision if:

  1. the prior convictions occurred when the person convicted was not represented by an attorney;
  2. the defendant was indigent and entitled to court-appointed counsel;
  3. the defendant did not waive the right to counsel; and
  4. the convictions were punishable by imprisonment.

See State v. Kelly, 999 So.2d 1029, 1053 (Fla. 2008). If the prosecutor has charged a DUI as a felony based upon a belief that three prior convictions had occurred, the defendant bears the initial burden of showing through a written motion under oath that at least one of the prior convictions should be eliminated.

As a practical matter, it is often more difficult for the prosecutor to prove prior convictions if the convictions are more than 10 years old or if the convictions occurred in another state.


Permanent Lifetime Ban - Florida Driver's License Revocation

By statute, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DSHMV) is required to permanently revoke a person's driver's license after four DUI convictions even if the revocation is based on out-of-state convictions which, if committed in this state, would provide grounds for revocation. See Vichich v. Dep't of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, 799 So. 2d 1069, 1072 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001) [26 Fla. L. Weekly D2290a].

Perhaps the most serious consequence of a fourth DUI conviction is that a Fourth DUI in Florida results in a permanent revocation of your driver's license (regardless of whether it is treated as a first, second, third, or subsequent DUI by the trial court at sentencing).

If this DUI is the Fourth DUI that appears on your driving record either now or in the future, then your driver's license will be permanently revoked. Florida law now provides that it is possible to obtain a hardship license after serving five (5) years of the revocation period.

If you are convicted of a fourth DUI, and you have a Florida driver's license or attempt to get one, then the Cheif of the Bureau of Records with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will send you an "Order of Revocation." The order also notifes you that your driving privilege will be permanently revoked as a result of four or more DUI convictions appearing on your Florida driving record which might be enclosed with the order.
 
The notice contains the following warning:
 
You are not authorized to operate a motor vehicle for the remainer of your life, unless you obtain a hardship driver license. A hardship driver license is granted only in specific circumsstances and restricts the driving privilege. You may apply for a hardship license five years AFTER your most recent DUI conviction or five years AFTER the date you were released from incareceration (if applicable), whichever is later. To be eligible, you must not use drugs or alcohol, not be arrested for any drug-related offense, or drive a motor vehicle in this five year period.
 
If you were interested in applying for a hardship license and believe you meet the eligiblity criteria, please contact your local Bureau of Administrative Review Office (see enclosed list) to schedule an appointment. They will provide you with additional instructions once they have determine you meet initial eligibility criteria.
 
This order is filed in the offical records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). You may appeal this order within 30 days of the date of this order by filing a petition for writ of certiorari described in Section 322.31, Florida Statute.
 

Eligibility to Apply for a Hardship Driver's License for a Fourth DUI

After five (5) years of not drinking or driving, the person becomes eligible to apply for a hardship driver's license in the Administrative Reviews Office where the person lives. To be

To be eligible, the person must complete DUI School and all recommended treatment, if referred. The person must also have a favorable recommendation from the Special Supervision Services program to be eligible for a hardship license.

Once you are approved to reinstate for a hardship license, the driver must present the approval to the driver license office to do the following:

  • take the driver's license examination;
  • pay an administrative fee;
  • pay a reinstatement fee;
  • pay any license fee; and
  • show proof of bodily injury liability insurance with appropriate limits.

The person must remain in the Special Supervision Services Program to retain the hardship license. Even if you manage to get a hardship license, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) under sections 322.271(5)(c) and 322.28(5), Florida Statutes (2015), can dismiss a person from the SSSP and the cancel the hardship license under certain circumstances.

Section 322.271 is entitled “Authority to modify revocation, cancellation, or suspension order.” Subsection (5) of the statute provides in part:

[A] person whose driving privilege has been permanently revoked because he or she has been convicted four or more times of violating s. 316.193 [addressing DUI offenses] or former s. 316.1931 may, upon the expiration of 5 years after the date of the last conviction ... petition the department for reinstatement of his or her driving privilege.§ 322.271(5), Fla. Stat. (2015).

The Department may “reinstate” a “petitioner's driver license.” § 322.271(5)(b), Fla. Stat. (2015). One of the reinstatement qualifications is that the “petitioner must be supervised by a DUI program licensed by the department ....” § 322.271(5)(b) 2., Fla. Stat. (2015). Supervision must include “evaluation, education, referral into treatment, and other activities required by the department. Id.

Section 322.271(5)(c) provides, “The petitioner must assume the reasonable costs of supervision. If the petitioner does not comply with the required supervision, the program shall report the failure to the department, and the department shall cancel such person's driving privilege.

Section 322.28 is entitled “Period of suspension or revocation.” The first four subsections of the statute detail those circumstances in which the Department must either suspend or revoke an individual's driver's license. Subsection (5) of the statute provides:

A court may not stay the administrative suspension of a driving privilege under s. 322.2615 or s. 322.2616 during judicial review of the departmental order that resulted in such suspension, and a suspension or revocation of a driving privilege may not be stayed upon an appeal of the conviction or order that resulted in the suspension or revocation. § 322.28(5), Fla. Stat. (2015). See State, Dept. of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles v. Peacock, 185 So. 3d 632, 634 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016).


How To Obtain Hardship Driving Privileges After a Fourth DUI Conviction

Before you are even eligible to apply for a hardship hearing after a fourth DUI, you must appear at the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) office to show proof of the following:

  • proof of completion of an approved DUI school;
  • must serve 5 years of the revocation period;
  • must not have driven or consumed any drugs or alcohol within 5 years prior to the hearing date;
  • no drug arrests during 5 years prior to the hearing;
  • must be accepted into and remain in a SSSP for the remainder of the sanction period;
  • installation of an ignition interlock device for 5 years; and
  • must be restricted to Employment Purposes Only for at least one year before obtaining Business Purpose Only.

The best way to avoid these consequences is to avoid the 4th DUI conviction by getting the charges dropped or reduced to a non-DUI charge such as reckless driving.


Additional Resources

Florida Statute 316.193(2)(b)(3) - Read the statutory language in Florida's DUI statute for any person who is convicted of a fourth or subsequent violation of DUI, regardless of when any prior conviction for a violation of this section occurred. The fourth DUI is classified as a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, with a minimum mandatory fine of at least $2,000. The statute does not impose any mandatory jail or prison sentence for a 4th DUI, although the prosecutor will typically ask for at least 30 days in jail.


Finding an Attorney for a 4th DUI in Hillsborough County, FL

Contact the DUI Defense Attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your arrest and prosecution for a fourth DUI in Tampa or Plant City in Hillsborough County, FL, or the surrounding counties. At the Sammis Law Firm, our attorneys provide free consultations.

We can help you understand the charges pending against you, ways to avoid the potential penalties imposed in those types of cases, and the most effective ways to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges. Call us to discuss fighting to avoid a 4th DUI conviction by getting the charges reduced to reckless driving to avoid more serious penalties. Find out how we can help you fight to avoid the permanent revocation.

With offices in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County and New Port Richey in Pasco County, we fight drunk driving cases throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.

Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.


This article was last updated on Friday, August 17, 2018.

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