As a Washington, DC DUI lawyer, I often get calls from people who have been arrested on a second offense DUI charge. Sometimes, it is actually a third, or even fourth time they were arrested on suspicion of DUI. They are worried because while you might get a good deal on a first offense DUI, they have heard that the punishment is much worse for repeat offenders. First, let me say that DC courts do treat repeat DUI or DWI offenses very seriously. The best thing to do is to not drink and drive. Unfortunately if you are reading this blog, you have probably already been given a citation to appear in traffic court.
As for the potential penalty, according to the Washington, DC code a second conviction for DUI within a 15-year period carries a fine of up to $5,000 and maximum of a year in jail. If convicted, you must serve at least 5 days in jail. This cannot be waved. A third conviction for drunk driving carries a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in jail. The difference here is that on a third offense, you must serve at least 10 days in jail if convicted. It should also be noted that the penalty might be greater if the driver has a minor child in the car at the time of his or her arrest.
The question you are probably asking now is what can be done to avoid a conviction and jail. Well there is often a lot that can be done if you hire an experienced DUI defense attorney, he can review your record and may be able to get you a disposition where you are not considered a second offender. As I Have discussed in previous posts, he can also challenge the vehicle stop, the administration of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, (SFSTs), breath or urine testing, and fight the case at trial. It is important to remember that an arrest is not a conviction and there is often a lot that can be done. Your life is not over.