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Alexandria Third Offense DUI Lawyer

A third DUI arrest in Alexandria could have a potentially severe impact on a person’s personal and professional life. Given the potential consequences of a conviction, individuals are advised to speak with an Alexandria third DUI lawyer immediately. A skilled defense attorney could explain your rights and champion your case.

Where are Third-Offense DUI Charges Heard in Alexandria?

A third offense DUI is a felony that will be tried in one of two places. Originally, if the offense is brought as a felony, it will be heard in the general district court through a preliminary hearing. At that point, if probable cause is found to believe that this offense has been committed, it will be certified and indicted to the circuit court. The case will be tried in the circuit court in Alexandria. During the preliminary hearing or at that court appearance, any deals worked out with the prosecutor to have a plea to a misdemeanor, such as a second-offense DUI, would remain and be finalized in the general district court.

In what ways are third offense DUI charges prosecuted more vigorously than first or second offense charges?

The immediate difference between the second and third offense DUI charges is the fact that the third offense is a felony rather than a misdemeanor. In other states, even three charges for a DUI/DWI will not result in a felony charge and may lead to jail time. In the State of Virginia, a felony conviction which raises the stakes for anybody. Having a felony conviction could prevent individuals from obtaining certain jobs, may impact the job they already have, and could also affect their voting privileges. If someone actually gets a conviction for a third offense DUI, the ensuing felony could lead to them having their voting rights completely taken away.

Potential Penalties for DUI Third Offenses

A third offense DUI charge is a Class 6 Felony which carries jail time from one to five years (which can include suspended time). Even if the court sentences the person to a year, they could suspend part of the year. There is:

  • A mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days up to five years if the person is convicted of three DUIs within 10 years
  • A mandatory minimum of six months and $1,000 mandatory minimum fine if all three DUIs were committed within five years

How does the time between DUIs matter?

The time period between being charged with a DUI may impact their case based on a 5 a to 10 years. If a defendant has three convictions for DUI within five years, the third conviction will guarantee a Class 6 Felony and a mandatory minimum time of six months to five years in jail. If the individual accumulates the three DUIs within 10 years rather than 5 years, they could be looking at 90 days mandatory minimum in lieu of six months mandatory minimum, and up to five years in jail.

Diversion Programs or Probation Options For Offenders

There will be probation on a third-offense DUI after a conviction. Any suspended jail time will be conditioned upon completion of probation. The individual will typically be guaranteed to have probation. There will be some term of probation and it will be supervised. The length of time for probation and the requirements for probation will be determined by any plea deal that is worked out with the prosecutor and approved by the judge.

How Courts Typically Treat Third-Offense Drunk Driving Charges

Courts consider third offense DUIs very seriously and prosecute them very harshly. They are fully prosecuted and then, as a felony charge, the court will impose jail time. Authorities are willing to consider jail time in excess of the mandatory minimum. If an individual is charged and convicted with three DUIs within a 10-year period, the person is going to be charged with a felony for the third offense and the court will have to give them 90 days in jail. It should be noted that the court will also consider giving them more than that 90 days.

Defendants could be facing even up to 5 years in jail depending on how bad the offense is. Authorities may look to see:

  • If it caused an accident
  • If there were any injuries
  • If there was damage to property.

At this point, if the court determines that the individual did not learn a lesson during the first two offenses and considers them an extreme danger to society, they will impose harsher penalties and more jail time. A person may be considered a risk to society simply by drinking when they are out in the community, which could lead to authorities assuming that they do not have the sound judgment not to drive and not to risk other people’s lives.

How an Attorney Could Build a Person’s Defense

Building defenses for a third-time DUI charge will be very similar to a regular DUI initially. The defense attorney will review all the facts surrounding the traffic stop and why the person was charged with the DUI to determine if there is a way to show that there is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual was knowingly drinking while intoxicated or driving while intoxicated. An Alexandria third DUI attorney may check to determine:

  • If there is a faulty blood test
  • If there was a faulty breathalyzer test
  • If the person was not impaired and should not have been arrested
  • If there was a constitutional problem with the stop itself.

The best defense for a third offense DWI could be working with the prosecutor prior to a court hearing for a plea deal and trying to get the individual off of that felony conviction and away from felony time.

Factors a Defense Lawyer May Consider

In building a defense, an Alexandria third DUI lawyer may consider:

  • The constitutionality of the stop
  • The level of the blood alcohol concentration that was found
  • The type of test that was used to determine the blood alcohol concentration
  • The other field sobriety tests that were performed

Any attorney may also examine facts related to the stop, which could include:

  • An accident
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Any damage to property
  • Any injury to other people at the scene.

Comparing Third Offense DUI Defenses to a First-Time DUI Defense

Defending a third offense DUI is more difficult than defending a first offense DUI since the stakes are higher for the accused. If someone is in a felony defense in lieu of a misdemeanor defense, more jail time, higher fines, and a higher potential of injury to the accused may be on the table. This could have a lasting impact on the individual. Consequently, the third DUI defendant will need a zealous defense from an Alexandria third DUI attorney. While there may be the same effort of defense, the type of defense will be targeted in a different way than an original DUI conviction or offense.

Impact of a Conviction on a Person’s Driver’s License

If there is a conviction, the person’s driver’s license is revoked for three years.

Since the charge is a third offense, their license may already be revoked. In such a case, their license remains revoked and an additional three years would be added. It should be noted that if it is a third offense and it has been long enough for the suspension or the revocation to be lifted, they may not have their license necessarily immediately taken and might be required to surrender it upon conviction.

There are two caveats that individuals should keep in mind. The Virginia DMV may contact them and require them outside of the court system to surrender their license. Alternatively, while it is not a requirement, the police officers upon arrest may also take their license. Individuals in Alexandria could speak with a third DUI defense attorney to learn how a conviction may impact their ability to drive in the future.

How to Challenge the Suspension of a License After Third-Offense DUI Charges

There is not much of an ability to challenge the suspension. Usually, there is one year of full revocation and after that for the remaining two years, there is the ability to apply for a restricted license. This typically involves ignition interlock for those two years, and it may also involve restrictions to travel as far as going from work or school to home. There is not much that could be done to challenge the suspension. While there are a few ways that one may request restrictions on the suspended license in some cases, it is very difficult after a third offense.

Applying For a Restricted License After Being Charged and Not Convicted

If a person is charged for a third DUI offense, they cannot apply for a restricted license. Through the court system, the only way they may be able to apply for a restricted license is upon conviction. There is a one-year period that is mandatory that the license must be completely revoked. While there might be an ability to apply for a restricted license afterward, it is also possible that the court may completely revoke the license.

Steps Drivers Could Take After an Acquittal to Get Their Licenses Back

They may already have their license so they simply would not surrender it to the court. If their license has already been taken, they have to apply back through the Virginia DMV. It requires going in person down to the DMV location. While it may also require submitting a new application or a renewal application for the license, there may be steps outside of the court system that the person has to do through the DMV for their license return.

Penalty Enhancements or Aggravating Factors

There are immediate enhancements depending on the BAC level. While a third offense could lead to a maximum of five years in jail and mandatory minimum jail times, a person could get hit with additional mandatory minimum 10 days in jail if the blood alcohol concentration is between 0.15 and 0.19. If if the BAC is over a 0.20, there is an additional mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail.

If minors were in the vehicle, the sentence itself could be raised. If someone is transporting a person 17 years or younger, there is an additional mandatory minimum fine of $500 and an additional mandatory minimum of five days to serve in jail.

How BAC Determines any Penalty Enhancements

If the BAC is over a certain amount, it automatically enhances the punishment for the crime. If the blood alcohol concentration is between 0.15 and 0.20, an individual has an immediate five days mandatory minimum in jail, and if it is above a 0.20, they have 10 days mandatory minimum. If someone has a second-offense DUI and a 0.15 to 0.20 BAC,  there is a mandatory minimum 10 days in jail, and if it is above a 0.20,  there is a mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail and a mandatory minimum fine of $500. The higher the BAC, the more likely there is will be jail time. Once someone starts hitting 0.15 and above, they start getting into mandatory jail time and fines.

Elevating DUI Charges to a Felony Offense

DUI charges could be elevated immediately to a felony offense if it is a third-offense DUI. If it occurred as a third-offense within 10 years, it is automatically raised to a Class 6 felony. The first two offenses of DUI convictions are misdemeanors. A third offense raises it to a Class 6 felony. If someone has three or more, they are automatically in felony territory. Basically, it is based on the number of times of a conviction. If it is three or more,  one would have a felony.

Differences Between Felony and Misdemeanor DUI Cases

The felony DUI will go through a preliminary hearing in lieu of a trial when it is in general district court. At the general district court, the judges hear cases to their conclusion if it is a misdemeanor case. For a felony case, they will only hear the probable cause and will have a hearing to determine if there is probable cause that the person who is charged with the third-offense or more DUI committed that offense. If probable cause is found, the case would be transferred up to the circuit court, and the case would be finalized by plea or by jury or bench trial in the circuit court for a felony case.

Initial Steps an Attorney Could Takes to Prepare a Defense for Felony DUI Charges

One of the first things they are going to do is to request what is called discovery from the prosecution by making a formal motion in the court. This is done to ask the commonwealth attorney or the prosecutor to turn over any and all documents relating to statements made by the defendant during the traffic stop or in relation to the DUI offense, any criminal record of the defendant and also anything that is exculpatory to the defendant.

This is typically an immediate need for the third DUI attorney in Alexandria in building the defense to find out exactly what the prosecution has. Usually, they are also able to find out what is in the police report and get a copy of the police report. Alexandria has an open-file policy, which means as long as the defense attorney gives notice and shows up at the office,  they are allowed to view everything that is not confidential or sealed from the public about the charge the defendant has been charged with, and they can start preparing their defense from there.

While felony DUI charges are not any more difficult than a regular DUI in terms of the type of evidence that would be presented and required for the defense of the case, they are more difficult to defend in terms of sentencing and pleas. Assuming that there is enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was guilty of driving while intoxicated in Virginia, the hard part of the defense may then become finding a way to reduce the case from a felony to a misdemeanor or to negotiate the case from a felony to a misdemeanor and to reduce any terms of sentencing to reduce or suspend all of the jail time that may otherwise be imposed. An attorney may also attempt to reduce any fines and other penalties that they the accused may receive, which may include supervised probation.

What are the Penalties for a Felony DUI in Alexandria?

The possible penalties are one to five years in jail. It is a Class 6 felony and those are the requirements. It is one to five years in jail, and it is a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. If the third DUI conviction occurs within a 10-year period, not only are they facing one to five years in jail, but 90 days of that is a mandatory minimum sentence. If the defendant has three DWI convictions within five years, six months of that is a mandatory minimum jail sentence. They will also be facing supervised probation time, and they will also be facing revocation of their license.

Value of a Local Attorney When Charged With Felony DUI

A defendant with a local third DUI attorney in Alexandria who knows the laws and codes of Virginia, how to present evidence and the best defense, and is familiar with the local players could be invaluable to have. Such an attorney may be familiar with the local judges, the commonwealth’s attorneys, and the officers who may be involved in the case. They may have better access to the players in the cases.

They may also have better information as to what those particular people would be looking for, what the judge would want to know about the defendant and his case in regards to sentencing in order to give a lower sentence. They could also know what the prosecutor would be looking for, and what kind of information they would want to get a better plea agreement.

Speak With an Alexandria Third DUI Attorney

Defendants may benefit from speaking to an experienced Alexandria third DUI lawyer who knows every single piece of the code in Virginia for DUI laws. Their attorney might be required to know what the laws are and what the penalties are upon conviction. An attorney may also need to know the specific DMV issues and license issues that they will following a DUI conviction or charge.

An experienced Alexandria third DUI attorney who is familiar with the local court system, what the judges normally do in these cases, what the normal sentencing is, and how the prosecutors handle these cases could give a defendant a leg up in negotiations for plea agreements and in finding alternate measures for convictions and for sentencing. Call an attorney today to learn your rights

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