WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – A Florida woman has been arrested for her third DUI in the State of Florida. This time, the DUI resulted in a traffic accident.
The two-vehicle traffic crash in southeast Winter Haven on Thursday afternoon, February 11, 2021, culminated with the arrest of a middle school P.E. teacher for driving while impaired. Arrested was 57-year-old Kathryn Lewis. Neither she, nor the other driver were injured in the crash…. Kathryn Lewis’ prior criminal history consists of an arrest in Daytona Beach for DUI and an arrest in St. Lucie County for DUI, Violation of Open Container, and Neglect of a Child. Read on.
While Ms. Lewis’ arrest blotter from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office references her prior arrests as “criminal history”, they make no mention of the disposition of the cases, whether they resulted in convictions or dismissals, or even had probable cause for arrest. In Florida, multiple DUI convictions will enhance punishment.
The severity of these penalties will depend on how recent the DUI conviction was. If a second conviction was less than 5 years after a first, mandatory jail comes into play. A third will still be a misdemeanor if the last DUI occurred more than a decade ago, but if the previous DUI was sooner, the DUI charge would become a felony. Felonies come with increased punishment, meaning jail time will be longer and your fines will be greater. For example, a third DUI conviction would be punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
What is the Prosecutor Required to do to Prove the Prior DUI Conviction Exists?
In most cases, the records of the Florida DHSMV are sufficient to establish the prior DUI conviction. A certified copy of the driving record which shows the prior conviction creates a rebuttable presumption that the prior DUI conviction occurred. In serious cases, each prior conviction would need to be proven before enhanced sentencing. Florida Statute Section 316.193(12) provides:
…If the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [the Florida DHSMV] show that the defendant has been previously convicted of the offense of driving under the influence, that evidence is sufficient by itself to establish that prior conviction for driving under the influence [DUI]. However, such evidence may be contradicted or rebutted by other evidence presented in deciding whether the defendant has been previously convicted of the offense of driving under the influence.
In certain cases, the prosecutor is not required to alleged the priors in an information before the defendant can receive enhancements, particularly in misdemeanor cases such as a second DUI within 5 years, or a third DUI outside of 10 years. See State v. Haddix, 668 So.2d 1064 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996). For felony DUI cases, based on the number of prior DUI convictions (either third within 10, or a fourth or subsequent DUI), the prosecutor is required to allege the prior DUI or related convictions in the charging document.
About the Author: Licensed to practice since 1982, Jonathan Blecher has defended over 5000 DUI and suspended driver license cases. A former Assistant State Attorney under Janet Reno, Jonathan later developed his interest and skills in DUI defense working under DUI legend Richard Essen, a founding member of the National College for DUI Defense. A member of the College himself, Jonathan has lectured on DUI topics at seminars, civic and business groups, as well as at the Miami-Dade County Police academy in courtroom procedure for police cadets. Jonathan is AV-Rated by Martindale-Hubbell and is authorized to appear before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Fifth and Eleventh United States Courts of Appeal, the U.S. District Court for Southern and Middle Districts of Florida, as well as the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Mr. Blecher can be reached at www.duilawdefense.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and 305.321.3237. DUI Defense Lawyer in Miami-Dade County, Boating Under the Influence Attorney in Miami, DUI Defense Attorney in Coral Gables