When facing a new DUI charge in California, it’s natural to feel a surge of anxiety, especially if you’ve previously been convicted of the same offense. Understandably, questions abound: Will a prior DUI conviction weigh heavily on my current case? How will the courts perceive me now? Please continue reading and reach out to a seasoned Tehama County DUI lawyer to learn more about how a previous DUI conviction may impact your current case.
Ways a Previous DUI Conviction May Influence Your Current DUI Case
One of the most straightforward implications of a prior DUI conviction is the potential for heightened penalties. In California, DUIs are “priorable” offenses, meaning the penalties for them escalate with each successive conviction within a 10-year period. So, if you’re facing a new DUI charge and have a prior conviction within the last decade:
- Your jail time may increase.
- You could face higher fines.
- The length of a mandatory DUI education program might extend.
- There may be a longer driver’s license suspension.
Reevaluation of Your Driving Privileges
With a fresh DUI charge and a prior conviction, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will likely scrutinize your driving record. There’s a heightened risk of an extended license suspension or even a permanent revocation, particularly if multiple prior DUIs appear on your record.
Sentencing and Probation Terms
Sentencing for a subsequent DUI can be more severe if there’s a previous conviction. Not only might you face longer jail time, but probation terms could be stricter. This could include mandatory attendance in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, or frequent check-ins with a probation officer.
Influence on Plea Bargaining
While every case is unique, having a prior DUI can sometimes make plea negotiations more challenging. Prosecutors might be less willing to reduce charges or offer lenient terms if they perceive a pattern of behavior.
Perception in the Courtroom
Although judges strive for objectivity, they’re not immune to the influence of repeat offenses. A previous DUI can sometimes lead to a perception of recidivism, which might color the judge’s attitude and decisions related to your case.
What steps should I take if I’m accused of driving while under the influence?
If you’ve recently been charged with a second, third, or subsequent DUI, you need to take the following steps:
- Seek Experienced Legal Counsel: Now, more than ever, you need a skilled California criminal defense lawyer by your side. They can help navigate the complexities of your situation and mount a robust defense.
- Gather Evidence: Just because you have a prior conviction doesn’t mean you’re automatically guilty of the new charge. Work with your attorney to gather compelling evidence that supports your current defense.
- Consider Alcohol or Drug Treatment: Voluntarily enrolling in a treatment program can sometimes positively influence the court’s perception of your commitment to change.
For further questions, or if you need an attorney to effectively defend you, contact Cohen Criminal Law today.