Second Offense DUI in Fairfax County
Sometimes having been through a particular type of case can help. If you have been charged with a DUI as a second offense in Fairfax County then you know some of the consequences that you face. You know that jail time is an issue and that a loss of license is likely. However, it is important to understand that there are enhanced penalties in Virginia for a Second Offense DUI. As you can imagine, when a court sees a person that has committed a particular offense again, the court feels it has no choice but to bring the proverbial hammer down (in this case, a gavel). However, there are somethings that can be done to help minimize the damage and, sometimes, result in outright dismissal of the charge.
A Second Offense DUI is Born
When there is a DUI conviction as a First Offense, any later DUI charges will be charged as a second offense. A second offense DUI in Virginia is treated differently than a first offense. The initial stop by the police is generally the same type of procedure as is the field sobriety tests and breathalyzer test. However, the punishment for a second offense DUI in Fairfax is much different and much worse. Even the initial arrest does not usually result in a simple personal recognizance bond (promise to appear). Rather, at this point, most magistrates will require that you pay a cash or corporate surety bond to get out of jail pending your court date. Sometimes, if the second DUI is close in time to the first DUI, the magistrate may order that you be held without bond until your court date. However, all is not lost.
Prior DUI Conviction
First, the prior offense must have been within the last ten years. If the last DUI offense was more than ten years ago, the good news is, even if you are charged with a DUI as a second offense, the court will have no choice but to amend the charge to reflect a first offense. As a result, you would more or less face the same penalties as you did the first time.
Second, the prior DUI offense must have been under a law that is considered "substantially similar" to Virginia law. This situation arises when a person has a DUI conviction that is from another state. For example, a DUI conviction sustained in Maryland is not substantially similar to Virginia's DUI laws because they have probation before judgment laws. As a result, a subsequent DUI charge in Virginia would be considered a first offense.
Second Offense DUI Punishment in Fairfax County
A DUI as a Second Offense in Virginia is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. As a result, the maximum punishment is 12 months in jail. However, such jail time is rarely imposed. Rather, there are mandatory minimum confinement requirements that the court must follow which typically results in a jail sentence much less than one year. The mandatory jail terms will depend on the blood alcohol level and the amount of time that has passed since the first offense. It should be noted that the license loss is much different in this case. Specifically, a person can expect to lose their privilege to drive in Virginia for 3 years. A restricted license will only be granted under certain circumstances with the added component of ignition interlock. Finally, ASAP will be ordered regardless and you can expect an additional treatment requirement by ASAP since it is a second offense.
DUI 2nd Offense in 5 to 10 years
If the new DUI conviction is within 10 years of the first offense but longer than 5 years ago, it will be treated as such. There will be some jail time and it will depend on the final blood alcohol level.
- BAC up to .14: 10 days mandatory jail time ($500 fine)
- BAC .15 to .20: 20 days mandatory jail time ($1000 fine)
- BAC greater than .20: 30 days to serve ($1000 fine)
Additionally, there will be a 3 year loss of license. A restricted license is possible after 4 months with the added component of ignition interlock. The Judge will typically impose an additional suspended jail sentence to ensure that ASAP is completed and that no new offenses are obtained over the course of one year.
DUI 2nd Offense within 5 years
If the new DUI conviction is within 5 years of the first offense, there are additional and harsher penalties that will be imposed by statute. The amount of additional jail time will also depend on the final blood alcohol level.
- BAC up to .14: 20 days mandatory jail time ($500 fine)
- BAC .15 to .20: 30 days mandatory jail time ($1000 fine)
- BAC greater than .20: 40 days mandatory jail time ($1000 fine)
There will be a 3 year loss of license and a restricted license will only be permitted after 1 year with the requirement of ignition interlock. Additional suspended jail time will be imposed with ASAP and one year of good behavior required.
DUI Second Offense Defenses
The Defenses to a DUI second offense are generally the same as with all DUI cases with a few differences. First, we will look at whether the prior offense is within the past 10 years. Next, was it substantially similar to Virginia law. Finally, we will look at whether there was proper reasonable suspicion for the stop (typically the individual's driving behavior). We will look at whether there was proper probable cause for the arrest. Field sobriety tests were likely administered so we will look at the terrain conditions, weather, and how the client actually did on the tests (notwithstanding the police officer's purported observations). We will look at whether the breath test was administered properly. Just because it is a second offense does not mean you are guilty.
We Can Help Your DUI Case
We are in court everyday. Many cases are ripe for trial given the right facts. Other times, we can work out a plea deal to lessen the jail time and speed up your ability to get a restricted license. We recommend you give us a call so we can discuss your particular case and your specific facts. We respectfully submit that this is one charge you want to have a lawyer with you.