Being charged with a third DUI offense in Washington, DC means you are likely facing serious penalties including fines, jail time, and a potential license revocation. For this reason, if you accused it is imperative you consult with an experienced DC DUI lawyer to discuss your case and begin building a defense. Below is more on what you should know if you have been charged, call today to schedule your consultation.
A person who is facing a third offense DUI has a mandatory minimum level of jail time of fifteen days that must be served, and a possible maximum penalty of one year. The fines range from $2,500 to $10,000, although none of these fines necessarily need to be paid, it’s at the discretion of the judge.
Even though the mandatory minimum levels of jail time only increased by five days between a second offense and a third offense, for practical purposes, the amount of jail time that a person faces as a third time DUI offender is significantly greater than even a second time DUI offender. Prosecutors are more likely to ask for jail penalties much higher than the mandatory minimum for a third offense, sometimes those recommendations can go up to five or six months of jail time as opposed to simply sticking with the fifteen-day mandatory minimum.
Nonetheless, even though the penalties increased drastically between a second offense and a third offense, third offense DUIs are still considered to be misdemeanors in D.C. because the maximum possible penalty a person faces is not greater than one year of jail.
The time between DUIs still matters in that all prior DUIs on a third offense still need to be within fifteen years of the current case. If they are older than fifteen years, then the time between the DUIs can still be considered by the judge as a mitigating factor or as an aggravating factor, but cannot be used to increase the potential mandatory minimum sentence to 15 days.
As an example, a person in their youth, barely over 21, had a severe drinking problem and a high degree of youthful recklessness, receives two DUIs very close to each other back in their younger days, but then spent the next fifteen years getting a job, going to school, getting married, having a family, doing otherwise everything right, and then, fourteen years after the initial DUIs, gets another DUI. A defense attorney can absolutely argue that this new DUI is completely separate from the initial two DUIs. Although they were within fifteen years, enough time has passed to suggest that the person should not be seen as a serious threat to the community because the person spent the last fifteen years doing everything correctly; not drinking and driving. Although that cannot convince a judge to go below a mandatory minimum, it can help a defense attorney argue that the mandatory minimum level of jail time is appropriate given those circumstances.
D.C. prosecutors will not offer probation for a third offense. Not only will they not offer probation on a third offense DUI, but it is much more likely that D.C. prosecutors will ask for levels of jail time significantly higher than the mandatory minimum levels of jail time for a third offense. That can include sometimes several weeks and even sometimes months of jail time longer than what is allowed for a minimum level by D.C. law.
For a third offense DUI, the initial procedure is the same for receiving notice of the possible revocation period and for requesting a hearing with the D.C. DMV to challenge that possible revocation. However, on a third offense DUI in DC, you face the possibility of a permanent revocation of your driving privileges, as opposed to the two year mandatory revocation on a second offense DUI.
The standards for challenging license suspensions are exactly the same regardless of what the potential length of the penalties are. Additionally, the lack of a possibility to obtain restricted driving privileges or limited driving privileges are exactly the same on a third offense as it is on a first offense.
In the event that the D.C. DMV initially took no action against your license because, for example, the officer did not show up to your DUI hearing at the DMV, then your acquittal can result in your driving privileges being fully reinstated and no action being taken against your license at all.
Local experience might be the most important thing in looking for a lawyer to handle your third offense DUI case. DUIs, even in first offense cases, are different in D.C. than they are in Maryland or Virginia. D.C. has unique court procedures, and has a unique situation in that the D.C. Attorney General’s Office handles DUI cases, and they do so in a manner that is different from the way that a lot of other prosecutors handle these cases.
Understanding the manner in which the D.C. Attorney General’s Office prosecutes DUIs and having an intimate knowledge of D.C. Superior Court procedures, is more essential than having a lawyer with thirty years of experience handling other kinds of criminal matters in Maryland or Virginia.
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