Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information.
One drunk driving conviction is bad enough. Now you're facing a second? Like any other criminal offense, the statute is aimed at discouraging repeat offenders, so the penalties you may be facing are bound to be more severe than the first time around.
Here's what could happen if you're convicted of a second DUI, and how you might be able to minimize those penalties.
Misdemeanors to Felonies
Each state treats DUIs a little differently, even down to whether they can them DUIs or DWIs or OWIs. So your state DUI laws, and how they treat a second offense, may vary from other states. Most states, however, allow for increased charges if you have a history of DUI offenses. So what is normally charged as a misdemeanor for first-time DUIs could be a felony in the case of a second. For instance, a first-time DWI in New York could get you up to one year in jail for a misdemeanor. But a second conviction in 10 years can become a felony DWI and land you in prison for up to four years.
Along with a change in charge classification comes a change in penalties and how it will affect your criminal record. Felonies often include the possibility of higher fines and more jail time. And when it comes time to expunge the DUI from your record, you may no longer be able to.
Interlocks and Added Monitoring
In most states, a second DUI conviction can also mean that you have to install an ignition interlock device on your car, meaning you would need to breathe into the system in order to start your car, and in some cases continue to blow while driving. While interlock devices are normally reserved for repeat offenders, many states are beginning to require them for first-time DUIs, and then increasing the time the device must remain in the car for subsequent convictions.
Some states may also impose house arrest or other electronic monitoring following a second DUI conviction. And in some cases, you may lose the opportunity for probation or conditional release and need to serve jail time instead.
If you've been charged with a second DUI you need legal help. An experienced DUI attorney can inform you of the possible punishments, possibly negotiate a better plea bargain, or defend you in court. Contact one in your area today.