Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious matter. A person charged with this criminal offense can expect a loss of driving privileges, fines and court costs, counseling and educational fees and possible incarceration. That is for the first offense. A second or subsequent offense can be much more costly. The likelihood of incarceration increases from a possibility to a probability and all other punishment s are multiplied several times over. Every state has differing laws on DUI and multiple offense punishments. The first line of defense is to find an attorney who has experience in handling this type of case and listening to his advice.
Avoidance of Multiple Offense DWI Charges
The most practical way to avoid a multiple offense DWI is not to drink and then operate a motor vehicle. Have a designated driver, call a cab, ask someone for a ride home. Finding a hotel room and “sleeping it off” is cheaper than the costs associated with a multiple offense. Sometimes though, life happens and a person wakes up realizing he has to be in court for the second time explaining his actions. It is this explanation that can, sometimes, save a person from the stigma of multiple offenses. Prosecutors do have some discretion in filing a charge with the court. How a complaint is worded makes a difference. Prosecutors will look at aggravating and mitigating circumstances and consider these.
An uncooperative suspect is less likely to get a break from the prosecutor. This doesn’t mean a person has to admit guilt, but a lack of belligerence and a remorseful attitude will be beneficial. A refusal to take a breath test gives the officer one less piece of evidence. A high BAC will be considered an aggravating factor. An accused must remember though that failure to submit to a breath analysis will usually mean an automatic license suspension. Other aggravating factors would be such things as having an open container, transporting a minor in the car while under the influence, excessive speed or being involved in a personal injury accident. When these factors are present it is less likely the accused will be able to bargain down the charge.
When there is a long time frame between alleged offenses it is easier to bargain down the charge to a first offense. Some states will disallow a charge of second or subsequent offense if a period of years (usually ten) has passed between offenses. The presence of an older offense can be considered in sentencing though. Genuine remorse and a sorrowful attitude can win an accused some brownie points, but may not be enough to get a charge reduction. Likewise a history of good behavior is a good thing, but in and of itself, not a great bargaining chip when facing a multiple offense DWI. Everyone is expected to be a model citizen and only true saints get extra credit.
Getting an experienced attorney is the best way to attack a multiple DWI charge. The attorney can try to work out a plea bargain to a lesser offense and work with the prosecutor and the probation department to present the mitigating factors and mask the aggravating factors. Truly the best way to avoid a second or subsequent DWI is to not let it happen. If it does happen getting a strong legal advocate can sometimes lessen the punishment.