What Is the Procedure for Trial of a Defendant Charged With Felony DUI ?

In State v. Rodriguez, 575 So. 2d 1262 (Fla. 1991), the Court established the procedure whereby a defendant charged with felony DUI, requiring three previous convictions of misdemeanor DUI in addition to the presently charged DUI, must be tried in a bifurcated process. The court conclude that if a defendant charged with felony DUI elects to be tried by jury, the court shall conduct a jury trial on the elements of the single [present] incident of DUI at issue without allowing the jury to learn of the alleged prior [misdemeanor] DUI offenses. If the jury returns a guilty verdict as to that single incident of DUI, the trial court shall conduct a separate proceeding without a jury to determine, in accord with general principles of law, whether the defendant had been convicted of DUI on three or more prior occasions. All evidence of the prior DUI convictions must be presented in open court and with full rights of confrontation, cross-examination, and representation by counsel. The trial court must be satisfied that the existence of three or more prior DUI convictions has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt before entering a conviction for felony DUI Id. at 1266.