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Third Offense DUI Charges in DC 

Different states have different legal requirements for what it means to be impaired and for what it means to be operating a vehicle. They also have different procedures for how DUIs are handled by prosecutors in courts. Many states have simple procedures for handling DUIs, whereby a judge has most of the control over the case and decides what happens. DC is different in that the involvement of the judges is minimal unless the case goes to a trial or any specific legal issues need to be addressed.

In many circumstances, judges have little involvement. Most cases are handled by a DC third offense DUI attorney and a prosecutor with the D.C. Attorney General’s office. Because the mandatory minimums in third offense DUIs can be strict, it is important to have a skilled DUI lawyer who understands the way mandatory minimums in DC are applied and what kind of strategies can be used to get around or minimize any jail sentence that a person may be facing as a result of a third offense DUI charges in DC.

Sentencing

Someone facing third offense DUI charges in DC would have their case heard before a judge at the DC Superior Court, which is the court of general jurisdiction in Washington, D.C.  Most judges will treat third offense DUI charges seriously. In first offense cases, judges will often agree to be lenient in terms of jail sentences or probation requirements, because most judges understand that DUIs can happen to a lot of people, there are a lot of circumstances, and that person is not necessarily a threat to the community or a threat to him or herself. However, once a person is facing a third offense DUI, judges are often not as willing to show leniency given that they might see that defendant as a threat to the community.

People convicted of third offense DUIs may be facing a higher sentence than just the bare minimum that might be available to a judge. If a person is convicted of a third offense DUI, even though the mandatory minimum jail penalty would be 15 days, it is not uncommon for judges to feel that the minimum sentence is not an adequate deterrent to ensure that the person does not get another DUI that could result in either the person being hurt or killed or someone else being hurt or killed. It is not uncommon for judges to seek jail sentences for multiple months of jail time.

Third Offense vs. First and Second Offense Treatment

On first offense DUI charges, most prosecutors and judges recognize that that offense is not indicative of serious problems of alcohol. In those situations, judges are more likely to make recommendations for relatively low-level alcohol education classes.

These are classes that can consist of perhaps 12 to 15 hours of low-level alcohol education, which is sufficient for most people facing first offense DUIs. When a person, who had previously been found guilty of driving under the influence, either one or two previous times, is before a judge for a DUI, the judge is much more concerned about whether that person might be a threat to the community. In those situations, judges may not be willing to just order a person to complete a simple 12-hour alcohol education course.

Aside from any jail time that may be imposed, judges can sometimes order a person to undergo more intensive outpatient treatment or, in some situations, even inpatient rehabilitation that will consist of a person residing in an inpatient treatment facility for 20 days or longer. Those are considered to be fairly harsh conditions, and more likely to be imposed in situations where a person is facing a second and especially a third offense DUI.

Contacting a DC Third Offense DUI Lawyer

It is not uncommon for a person facing a DUI in DC to look for attorneys located near where the person lives as opposed to near where their case is. Many people are under the impression that DUIs are the same everywhere. For instance, if they get a DUI and live in Montgomery County, they should look for a lawyer based in Montgomery County, because that attorney might be more convenient. That is a mistake. DUIs in different states are different not only in the way the laws are applied but also in court procedures and trial strategies.

Only a lawyer who defends DUIs in DC frequently is going to be equipped with the experience and the knowledge to be able to put a person in the best possible situation and give that person the highest chance of minimizing the penalties such as license suspension. An attorney who practices mostly in Virginia and Maryland and does some cases in D.C. is not going to have the background in D.C. cases to be able to properly and adequately represent a person facing third offense DUI charges in DC. Having a lawyer who has that background can make an enormous difference in the outcome of the case.

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