Fredericksburg Third Offense DUI Lawyer
Third-offense DUI cases are a little bit different from first and second, because they are often heard in two places. Because third offenses in Virginia are felonies, they will initially be heard at the general district court to determine whether or not there is probable cause for the felony.
If the case is certified or subject to a direct indictment, it will be heard in the local Circuit Court. Either way, it is important to have a Fredericksburg DUI lawyer representing you every step of the way. An experienced Fredericksburg third offense DUI attorney will be able to guide and advise you throughout the intimidating and often overwhelming process of fighting these charges.
Potential penalties, in addition to receiving a felony conviction, will vary based upon whether or not it is the third offense in 10 years, third offense in five years, and whether or not the third offense had an enhanced blood alcohol content (BAC).
For a third-offense DUI pursuant within five years, a person will be sentenced to a period of imprisonment of one to five years or up to 12 months in jail. Six months of that jail sentence is a mandatory minimum, and the mandatory minimum fine is $1,000.
If it is a third offense in 10 years, similarly, it is a Class 6 felony with one to five years in prison possible, but the mandatory minimum is only 90 days and the mandatory minimum fine is $1,000, making it important that a Fredericksburg third offense DUI lawyer is contacted.
Impact on Driver’s License
If someone is convicted of a third-offense DUI in Virginia, his or her license is going to be suspended immediately and indefinitely.
When it comes to challenging that suspension, it is done in the same way as it is for previous attempts. A petition is filed to the court either by the individual or their Fredericksburg third offense DUI attorney, that bears the burden of proof to convince the court that the administrative suspension is improper.
There is often little to lose by filing this challenge for a third offense case, because it can be used to gather additional information about the case. It is also important to note that, if acquitted of the charges, the clerk will hand the person back his or her license.
Some of the aggravating factors, besides this not being the first iteration of the charges, include the circumstances surrounding the incident. For instance, the courts will take into account:
- Whether or not there was an accident
- Whether or not the person had an enhanced BAC
- How soon after the previous conviction did this incident take place
- Whether there were minors in the vehicle at the time of the stop
If any of these factors apply to the case, it is very likely that there may be an additional enhanced penalty. For example, the presence of minors in the vehicle adds onto it a jail sentence of no less than seven days and an additional $500 fine.
Law Enforcement Approach
Many judges view a third-offense DUI as the final confirmation that leniency in the past has not worked. As a result, judges and prosecutors take these charges very seriously.
From their perspective, the defendant has now had two opportunities to go through the court system to see how serious and how life-changing a DUI is, and have nevertheless failed to change their behavior.
Commonly, the mandatory minimum this time around are viewed as a floor rather than a ceiling for punishment, and judges rarely see the mandatory minimums when deciding what punishment is appropriate.
Building A Defense
A Fredericksburg third offense DUI attorney will likely prepare for court in these types of cases in a similar way that they would for previous court hearings. They will, however, pay extra attention to constitutional issues regarding the convictions for prior offenses, as this can directly affect the charges and therefore the outcome.
How A Third Offense Attorney Can Help
A Fredericksburg third offense DUI attorney with local experience can help an individual understand what arguments work best, what an individual’s true exposure may be given the proclivities of the judge and prosecutor, as well as what options an individual may have. Such an attorney will work tirelessly to achieve the best outcome possible under the circumstances.