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Penalties For 3rd DUI Offenses in DC

The possible maximum penalty on a third offense DUI is 1 year incarceration, a fine of $2,500 to $10,000 and a mandatory minimum $100 court cost payment.

A third offense DUI is also eligible for a mandatory minimum 15 days of jail. Mandatory minimums in DC mean that if you are convicted of a third offense DUI, a judge does not have the ability to give you less than 15 days of jail. But can go higher than 15 days of jail up to 1 year.

Because the maximum penalty for a third offense DUI is 1 year, these cases are still considered to be misdemeanors because you are not facing more than 1 year as a possible penalty, however, these penalties are sever enough that you should get in contact with a DC DUI lawyer as soon as you can.

Enhanced Penalties

Aside from the standard enhanced penalties for a third offense DUI which are a mandatory minimum 15 days of jail, there are other possible aggravating factors that can further increase a person’s penalties.

If a person has a third offense DUI and has a blood alcohol content of a .20 or higher, then that would further increase the mandatory minimum levels of jail time that a person would face. The higher a person goes above a .20 can also increase the mandatory minimum levels of jail time that a person faces.

If a DUI suspect’s blood or urine contains a Schedule 1 drug, or certain other serious drugs such as heroin, PCP or cocaine, that person may be eligible for increased mandatory jail time. You could also have your penalties enhanced in the event that you have a minor child in the vehicle with you while you are driving under the influence. If your minor child is unrestrained, meaning that they’re not wearing a seatbelt or not in an age-appropriate harness or child seat, then that could also even further increase the amount of mandatory minimum jail time that a person faces.

Does The Amount of Time Between Convictions Matter?

In order for a prior DUI conviction to be considered a prior conviction for enhancement purposes, the conviction must be within the past 15 years. That means that if a person, for example, has a DUI conviction from 1990, another DUI conviction from 2006 and then the third DUI charge in 2015, that person will only be considered a second offender as opposed to a third offender because the first offense was outside of the 15-year look back window.

The gap between the different DUIs can also be relevant for sentencing purposes. For example, if a person has a DUI in 2010, a second DUI in 2012 and then a third DUI in 2015, a prosecutor and a judge may consider that to be relevant in determining whether or not they want to request or seek penalties significantly higher than just the mandatory minimums because of how recent all of the DUIs have been.

A person with a high number of DUIs condensed in to a very short period of time could be seen as a greater threat to public safety compared to a person who had, for example, two DUIs right around 14 or 15 years ago. And then went another 15 years after that before getting another DUI.

In a situation like that, even though the person would still be eligible for the mandatory minimum 15 days of jail, the third offender might not be considered as greater risk because of the significant gap that took place between the initial DUIs and the current DUI.

Probation in Third DUI Cases

DC prosecutors do not offer diversion on third offense DUIs. Furthermore, it’s extremely unlikely to get a probation offer in a third offense DUI because prosecutors aggressively file enhancements in any DUI that is not a first offense.

Sentencing in DC Third DUI Cases

When a person is facing sentencing as a third time DUI offender, the most important factor that a defense attorney needs to look for is a way to get the defendant as close to the mandatory minimum amount of jail as possible.

When a person is convicted either through a plea or after a trial of a third offense DUI, then a judge is not legally permitted to give less than the mandatory minimum of 15 days of jail. However, in many situations, judges are inclined based on the circumstances to go higher than the mandatory minimum amount of jail and sometimes significantly higher.

Also, because judges see third offense DUIs as a very serious risk to the public, it’s the responsibility of the defense attorney to mitigate the circumstances that could encourage a judge to increase possible penalties that the client faces.

That can include showing that a person has sought out intensive treatment for alcohol abuse. It can also include pointing out strict compliance with conditions of pre-trial release or the likely consequences a person may face outside of the judicial system as a result of lengthier incarceration periods. It can also include any mitigating factors in a person’s case.

Mitigating factors can be factors such as a defendant’s attempt to pull the car over to the side of the road before being stopped by a police. That can show that a person may have been aware of their own intoxication and attempted to minimize any potential danger that members of the community could face as a result of their driving.

Mitigation is very important in convincing judges that a defendant need not receive greater than the mandatory minimum amount of jail time in order to effectively punish the person and to ensure a low risk of re-arrest.

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