2nd (Second) Offense DUI
I've written rather extensively about the DUI process. Often, someone who has been through it once before finds this site, or my various blog articles about drunk driving cases, and particularly those about 2nd offense cases, and identifies with the accuracy of the information I publish. Let's begin our discussion by reviewing some of the potential consequences of 2nd Offense DUI:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Driver's license revoked for life with no appeal for 1 year
- A fine of up to $1000, plus costs
- 6 Points on driving record
- $1000 driver responsibility fee for 2 years
- Vehicle immobilization and/or forfeiture
- License plate confiscation
Except for the money and points, most, if not all of those can be avoided. Of course, the real heart of a drunk driving second offense charge is staying out of jail. The reality of a potential jail sentence is much more realistic in a 2nd offense case than in a 1st offense case. The reasons for this are beyond simply summarizing, but the reader no doubt already understands it, and has probably understood it all along. It only makes sense, and it hardly takes a lawyer to explain why.
The legality of the case must be put under the microscope. Every angle of the case must be carefully checked out to see if there is some way out of the charge. The traffic stop, the field sobriety tests and the breath or blood test must be critically examined. If there is police video, we’ll want to see it. If there ever was a time to search for a break in the evidence, it's in this situation.
If the case is solid, then my first priority in any 2nd offense DUI is to keep my client out of jail. I am especially good at it. Yet once that has been accomplished, there are endless other negative consequences that I have to keep off of my client’s back.
Without fail, everyone facing the real possibility of jail will gladly and quickly agree to just about any kind of probation to avoid getting locked up. When all is said and done, however, no one wants to find themselves stuck on “probation from Hell.” Avoiding burdensome and difficult probation requires time and effort. To accomplish this, I begin with a first meeting with a new client that takes at least 2 hours. We’ll have lots to go over.
The law requires that, if a person is convicted of a second DUI charge within 7 years from the time of their first, they MUST be sentenced to some kind of counseling. Instead of just waiting to see what kind of counseling the court eventually orders (and it will certainly NOT take into account what is affordable and convenient for the person), I help my client find an affordable, convenient counseling program that works for them. Beyond having spent decades dealing with alcohol issues, I have completed a formal, post-graduate program of addiction studies, as well. I bring an unusually deep understanding of the alcohol treatment aspect of things to a 2nd offense situation. No matter how you cut it, this means making things better for the client, and helping him or her avoid unnecessary counseling or treatment.
Beyond not just waiting to find out what kind of program they get “stuck” with, I then use the client’s proactive involvement to their advantage when I deal with the prosecutor. In addition, this proactive approach will have similar benefits when they meet with the probation officer for their mandatory alcohol assessment test as part of their pre-sentence investigation (PSI) before they appear in front of the Judge for sentencing.
In the final analysis, handling a second offense DUI is all about damage control. Whatever else, anyone facing a DUI is concerned about one primary thing: What is going to happen to me? Once I remove jail from that equation, I can then shift the focus to avoiding as many of the other consequences as possible.