Third Offense DUI Charges in Chantilly
In Chantilly, third offense DUI charges are going to be heard in two different places; a case will start out in Fairfax general district court, but will have a different process than it would for a first or second offense DUI.
Third offense DUIs in Chantilly, if they occur within 10 years, are charged as a felony. A person will have a preliminary hearing and their case will follow the felony track, which means after the preliminary hearings, it goes up to circuit court in Fairfax County and goes to trial at the circuit court level.
Due to the severity of third offense DUI charges in Chantilly, it is crucial that a person facing these charges contact a Chantilly DUI lawyer right away to ensure they receive a strong defense.
How These Cases Are Handled
Prosecutors handle third offense DUI charges very seriously. To prosecutors, a person facing a third offense DUI poses an enormous public safety risk, and, therefore, are going to treat a third offense DUI charge much more harshly than a first or second offense.
Chantilly courts are strict about third offense DUI charges as well. Not only do they have the mandatory minimum in place for third offense DUIs, but they also treat them as a felony and can give a person up to five years of time in prison.
The penalties for a third offense DUI depends on the time between the DUIs. If a person is charged with their third offense within 10 years, that is when it is going to be prosecuted as a felony and there will be a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 90 days. If it is not within 10 years, it will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.
A third DUI offense within five years carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail, and the maximum sentence is five years.
Additionally, a Chantilly third offense DUI charge and conviction within 10 years will result in a minimum fine of $1,000 and an indefinite suspension of a person’s license, and they may never be able to get that back.
After a five-year period, if a person is able to keep their record clean, it is possible to petition to obtain a license, but it is certainly not guaranteed.
Enhanced Penalties or Aggravating Factors
A heightened BAC can enhance penalties for someone who is convicted of a third offense. They will have a mandatory minimum of five days incarceration if it is 0.15 to .20, and a minimum of 10 days incarceration if they have 0.2 and above.
In addition, if it is a person’s third offense within 10 years, then they face a mandatory minimum of 90 days incarceration up to five years in prisons, at least a $1,000 fine, and an indefinite license suspension.
Additionally, because a third offense DUI is a felony in Virginia, a person will suffer the consequences of a felony conviction, including the loss of your right to vote and the loss of the right to own and carry a gun.
If minors are in the vehicle, the judge is going to also consider that as an aggravating factor and they are going to be harsher on the defendant and probably increase their jail time. The person could also be charged with a separate felony charge of child endangerment because they had minors in the car while they are driving while intoxicated, and, therefore, the judge may increase jail time more toward the maximum penalty.
Hiring an Attorney
If a person is charged with a third offense DUI in Chantilly, they should look for a local attorney. A local attorney knows the prosecutors, knows the judges, and knows the makeup of the jury and what the jury is going to essentially decide. They can gauge these factors because they are going to be the ones that are going to help the defendant decide whether or not they need to take their case to trial or what can happen in that situation.
An attorney from a different area might be unfamiliar with the Chantilly system, which could ultimately hinder a case.
Building a Defense
As a lawyer defends someone facing a third offense DUI charge in Chantilly, they can look at what is happening in a specific case and look for the flaws in the evidence, which can help a person either get a not guilty, get some of the evidence thrown out, or negotiate with the prosecutor to make a better deal.
Some of the defenses for a third offense DUI could include whether the individual’s preliminary breath test or breathalyzer was done correctly, and whether or not an individual was actually intoxicated at the time or what the signs were for that.
A third offense DUI, because the consequences are so serious, oftentimes needs to actually be negotiated down to a different charge and the risk of going to trial become much, much higher when facing up to five years in prison. The defenses for a third offense DUI, therefore, are going to be very robust and they are going to have to be taken much more seriously.