Third Offense DUI in Virginia
Most traffic offenses in Virginia are either traffic infractions or misdemeanors. A Third DUI Offense in Virginia is one of the few traffic offenses that is a felony. Unlike a DUI First Offense or DUI Second Offense a Third Offense DUI is life changing. Because it is a felony, a conviction will result in an individual's loss of certain civil rights and will substantially impact the ability to drive. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other Non-Profit organizations have really leaned on the courts and legislatures over the years for harsher punishments and the resulting consequences really transforms a person's life. These types of cases really start to show a need for treatment and will require the assistance of a DUI Lawyer.
DUI Third Offense is a Very Big Deal
The big issue with third offense DUI's in Virginia is that it is a felony. The other problem is that the court is aware that the individual has two prior DUI convictions. As a result, most people are held without bond by the magistrate when they are charged. If the bond hearing for potential release is not done properly (or not held at all), the person will be held in jail until their trial date and possibly later. The big issue here is that, because a Third Offense DUI is a felony, the trial date will be a ways off. Instead, there will be preliminary hearing held to determine if there is sufficient evidence to send the matter to the Grand Jury for Indictment of the offense. If indicted (which most offenses are - "you can indict a ham sandwich"), the case will be set for trial. In Fairfax County, you can expect to have a Jury Trial on a DUI Third Offense charge. The Jury will decide guilt or innocence and an appropriate sentence (which will be reviewed by the Judge at a later sentencing date).
Third Offense DUI Punishment in Fairfax County
A DUI as Third Offense in Virginia is a Class 6 Felony. As a result, the individual will face up to 5 years in prison. In addition, a conviction will result in the indefinite suspension of the license. There is no restricted license available (and no ignition interlock since there is no restricted license permitted). Instead of ASAP, the individual will be put on probation with the State and will be required to follow any recommended treatment options that are available. There will also be, at a minimum, some jail time. A major difference with a DUI Third Offense from misdemeanor DUI's is many Judges will give more jail time to serve than the minimum required.
DUI 3rd Offense in 5 to 10 years
If the DUI conviction is within 10 years of the prior offenses but not within the past 5 years, there will be a mandatory jail sentence of 90 days. The mandatory time is the least amount of jail time a Judge can give. As indicated above, you can expect a Judge to strongly consider giving a greater amount of jail time than 90 days unless the person has proven they are not a danger to the community and the minimum will serve its purpose. There is a mandatory $1000 fine (up to $2500).
DUI 3rd Offense in 5 years
If the new DUI conviction is within 5 years of the prior offenses, there will be a mandatory jail sentence of 6 months. This will not include any additional jail time the Judge thinks is appropriate. There is a mandatory $1000 fine (up to $2500).
DUI Third Offense Defenses
Because each of the two prior DUI offenses must be within the past 10 years, a close look at the record will be important here. In fact, unlike other types of cases, obtaining copies of the prior sentencing orders for the other DUI cases will be vitally important. If any other prior to two offenses are outside the 10-year mark, the Third Offense DUI charge would have to be reduced to a Second DUI charge (and therefore be a misdemeanor only).
In addition, if any of the prior DUI offenses were sustained outside of Virginia, they will need to be substantially similar to Virginia law. If one or both prior offenses are not substantially similar then the third offense would need to be reduced.
Finally, the police officer's grounds for the stop of the vehicle and the arrest will need to be investigated. Just because it is a third offense does not mean "they must have done it this time." Even though it is a felony charge, the individual retains all the trial and due process rights that a person with a misdemeanor charge has.
Be Candid with Your Lawyer
There is a lot on the line in Third Offense DUI cases. Be sure to tell your lawyer everything about the case. Even if you are in denial or embarrassed we are here to help you. One the best feelings for us to help a client avoid a felony conviction and/or a substantial jail sentence. Everyone deserves a good defense and to be free from unlawful restraint.