The consequences of just one DUI can be severe, but habitual drunk driving can lead to a nightmare that most individuals are unprepared to deal with. The ramifications for habitual status vary wildly, as do the reasonings behind the label. Here’s everything you need to know.
The Habitual Offender
While it might seem like a habitual offender is someone with multiple DUIs in a short time period, that isn’t always the case. Most states define this type of criminal as someone who has violated particular laws over a certain period of time. Those laws can include:
- Driving under the influence
- Driving while your license is suspended or revoked
- Reckless driving
- and Vehicular manslaughter or homicide
Each state defines their limits for the number of times these crimes must be committed and what timeframe they are committed in for habitual status. DUI defense attorneys recommend familiarizing yourself with your state’s laws, especially after your first arrest.
Your sentence depends on multiple factors. First, the judge handling your case can choose to be lenient or harsh depending on the severity of your crimes. Second, the culmination of your offenses can change the outcome of your verdict. Multiple DUIs, for instance, are often different from two DUIs and an automobile accident that resulted in a personal injury.
While there are no clear-cut sentences for habitual drinking and driving offenders, you can expect to lose your license for several years. In some states, harsher penalties include jail time as well as increased fines. Most states also charge you with a felony DUI if you have prior convictions.
You should keep in mind that these charges increase if your DUI includes reckless driving, driving without a license, or vehicular homicide. It is in your best interest to hire a defense attorney to help lessen your charges wherever possible.
You Have Options
No court looks kindly on habitual offenders of any kind. However, you do have options available to you. With a skilled lawyer, you can work to petition the court in a variety of ways. First, however, you have to show that you are committed to turning your life around.
In some states, showing a push towards positive life changes allows you to petition the court for a reinstatement of your driver’s license. This process often takes a few years of being sober as well as rehabilitation efforts such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
You might also be able to have your prior convictions vacated, effectively lessening your sentence and possibly saving you from the habitual label. The rules, again, vary from state to state. Most importantly, you can hire a skilled DUI attorney.
Lawyers in your state are well-versed in its laws, providing insight into your options as well as what type of convictions you may be facing. They can fight for your right and help lessen charges in most cases, or help you start working towards recovery and getting your life back on track. Either way, you don’t want to face these charges without an attorney by your side.