In Washington, DC those facing their second DUI offense are looking at increased jail time and fines. As a result, it is important that if you are charged, you consult with a DC DUI lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your defense. Below, is more on what you should know regarding second offense penalties, to learn more call and schedule a consultation today.
A second offense DUI is eligible for a mandatory minimum ten days of jail time. This means that judges are permitted to go higher than, but not lower than a 10-day jail sentence in the event that a person is convicted for a second offense DUI.
Frequently people want to know if they can be put on home confinement, go to a halfway house, or if the judge can make their second offense a first offense. However none of these are possible, and in the event that a person is convicted of a second offense DUI, the judge does not have the discretion to give anything other than a minimum ten days in D.C. jail.
The judge is not even allowed to let a person to serve jail time on weekends or to split the jail time up between consecutive weekends to grant the person the ability to go to work Monday through Friday and then serve the jail time on Saturday and Sunday. The D.C. City Council eliminated that possibility and made a requirement that any mandatory jail time must be served consecutively.
The maximum possible penalty a person can receive for a second offense DUI is one year in jail. A person’s possible fines also increase after a first offense to $2,500- $5,000 in fines, but the judge does have the discretion to impose fines. A judge can suspend any portion of that fine so a person does not have to actually pay them.
The time between DUIs can make a difference. If the prior DUI was more than fifteen years prior to the current DUI for which a person is charged, then that person is not eligible for enhanced penalties. This does not mean that the person cannot receive jail time, it just means that the person cannot be treated as a second time offender and so that jail time is not mandatory.
If a person does have a prior DUI within the past fifteen years, there can still be a difference between whether that prior DUI was fourteen years ago or if the prior DUI was one year ago. The mandatory minimum jail time is still ten days in both circumstances, but the time that is a lapse between the first DUI and the second DUI can make a difference in whether the judge wants to impose a sentence higher than a mandatory minimum level of jail time.
For example, if a person’s first DUI was only one year prior to the current DUI, then a judge may treat that more seriously and say more than ten days of jail time is warranted because such little time has passed since the last time the defendant was in the same situation. The defense’s job is to mitigate that situation and, in the event that there is no way to avoid the mandatory minimum jail time, to get as close to that mandatory minimum level of jail time as possible.
There is no diversion possible on a second offense DUI. Diversion agreements are reserved for people who have no prior arrest for driving under the influence.
Furthermore, the standard policy of the Attorney General’s Office is to not offer probation for second time offenses for DUI because of the mandatory minimum level of jail time for which a second time offender is eligible.
Nonetheless, a defense attorney’s job is to always advocate for the most favorable position for his client. That means that even though a person might be eligible for mandatory jail time on a second offense, defense attorneys still have the ability to defend aggressively, investigate the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, and negotiate for the possibility of avoiding jail time even in a situation where a person may be facing mandatory jail time.
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